Reinventing Events on the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail

Vintners association focused on safety, reinventing wine trail events for 2020

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Leelanau Peninsula Vintner’s Association President Rick DeBlasio at Shady Lane Cellars. (Photo by Rick D2 Christopher O’Non, Grand Traverse Media)

The fall season at Leelanau Peninsula’s wineries might look different this year, but many highly anticipated events are set to return.

And they’ll do so in a way that provides safety and peace of mind for all who visit.

Leelanau Peninsula Vintner’s Association President Rick DeBlasio, who also serves as general manager of Shady Lane Cellars in Sutton’s Bay, said the Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association (LPVA) has been working on new ways to keep guests and ticket holders engaged with the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail while ensuring their safety and the safety of area winery staff, too.

“We are really excited about the fall event line-up and think it will offer a really fresh way to enjoy the wine trail,” said DeBlasio.

He assured that all 27 LPVA member wineries are practicing safety protocols and meeting the requirements of the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services guidelines, which include but are not limited to: mask requirements, social distancing and capped group sizes.

“We introduced the month-long style of events a number of years ago with the launch of The Hunt for the Reds of October and it’s a format that is really more conducive to engage with the individual wineries — as opposed to the events we have always run,” he said. “The old marathon-style events make it really hard to manage crowds and it’s a challenge to prevent large numbers of individuals congregating in small spaces. This format allows for responsible event attendance and a new experience.”

The events will kick it all off with Harvest Days, a month-long seasonal celebration. Harvest Days will replace the Harvest Stompede in this new format. It features a VIP experience where ticket holders receive Wine Club benefits for one visit to at each participating winery throughout the month of September. Tickets are $35 at lpwines.com or visit MyNorth.com.

“This is really an opportunity to become a wine club member for a month,” said DeBlasio. “It’s as if there was a Wine Trail Wine Club so to speak. Each winery you visit will extend member benefits to the ticket holder. This will create a unique experience at each winery because wine club benefits vary.”

That will likely include complimentary tastings or wine flights, discounts of up to 20 percent off purchases, as well as priority seating or private rooms, and priority reservations.

Come October, the LPVA hosts its month-long fan-favorite, The Hunt for the Reds of October. Each winery on the wine trail will feature a red wine to highlight for ticket holders. Tickets are $25 and will be available at the wineries or online at lpwines.com. For each ticket sold, part of the proceeds will again be donated to the American Red Cross.

In its 5th year, The Hunt for the Reds of October grew from a weekend event to a month-long endeavor in 2016. It provides a memorable experience and a chance for winemakers to spotlight reds in a region traditionally known for world-class white, sparkling and rose wine.

Michigan grape growing and winemaking is all about capturing the cool climate characteristics of our region,” said DeBlasio. “This means that red wines are bright and vibrant with lush fruit notes and are refreshing in nature. Understanding Michigan red wine is really about understanding style. We grow specific varieties and craft them in ways to truly express our region and our climate.”

Toast the Season, traditionally held the first two weekends in November and a kicking off the holiday season, has been canceled for 2020. The LPVA has intentions to bring it back in the future.

Information submitted by the Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association.

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