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Shady Lane Cellars braces for busiest summer season yet

The team at Shady Lane Cellars is preparing for its busiest summer season yet. And they want all who open a bottle or fill a glass with Shady Lane Cellars wine to know it was cultivated with a conscience.

Winemaker Kasey Wierzba, Vineyard Manager Andy Fles and General Manager Rick DeBlasio believe in the wine they make at this Leelanau Peninsula destination. Their sustainable practices are deeply imbedded in winemaking and were recognized when Shady Lane Cellars earned SIP – Sustainability in Practice – certification for its Michigan vineyard last fall.

“The SIP certification is something we are extremely proud of,” said DeBlasio. “It is a true testament to the care and consideration we farm and operate with and I think it should give customers a lot of confidence that our wines are not mass or commercially-produced. They don’t contain all sorts of chemicals to simply engineer a flavor profile. It all starts in the vineyard and we work to steward what is there and what is natural right into the bottle – and ultimately your glass.”

Wine doesn’t come with an ingredient list, DeBlasio added.

“Our region, Leelanau Peninsula, is everything to these wines,” adds Wierzba. “It’s my utmost intention to express the fruit within the context of time and place. We aren’t trying to emulate another wine growing region, we are committed to showing how fantastic this wine growing region is.”

And that’s also why they are working toward earning SIP certification for the wines themselves.

“As a 100 percent estate-grown vineyard and winery there is a direct link between our farm and our wine,” DeBlasio said.

He believes consumers are more and more knowledgeable about sustainability than ever, that they understand the link between what we consume and how it impacts our health.

“Sustainability is really important,” he said. “We see it in their purchasing habits.”

This spring activities are gearing up at Shady Lane Cellars to provide their estate grown wines to guests at the tasting room and across the region. In the vineyard, crews are out pruning the vines, which will begin the seasonal process that goes from bud to fruit. Weather plays a key role, too.

“In a year of complete unknowns, the 2020 growing season was pretty straightforward,” said Wierzba. “We had a later and cooler spring than our average, but with the warm summer, the grapes made up for lost time. The fall was dry, with few rain events and that provided us with great quality fruit. Our white wines will go into bottle later this spring and our reds will age in barrel for another year.”

Inside the winery, it’s nearly time for spring bottling of Shady Lane Cellars white and rose wines. For Wierzba that means preparing the wines, the spaces needed to bottle and scheduling it all very methodically.

In the tasting room, Shady Lane Cellars’ staff is training and preparing to open up again for a busy season. They are readying the outdoor bar and patio for guests. DeBlasio expects regional travel to boom again this summer.

He’s anticipating double the amount of guests Shady Lane Cellars saw in 2020 based on the interest the region’s rental properties are already experiencing. And the operations at this and other wineries have changed slightly to safely manage visitors.

“Reservations are here to stay,” said DeBlasio, which benefits all parties involved. “Consumers are more thoughtful about the experiences they choose.”

 ABOUT SHADY LANE CELLARS 

Located at 9580 E. Shady Lane in Suttons Bay, Mich., Shady Lane Cellars produces one of the largest percentages of estate-grown wine in its region. Offering hilltop views of the Leelanau Peninsula in northern Michigan, the winery and its staff create a comfortable approach to wine. The winery was founded in 1999. Since 2017 all Shady Lane Cellars wines are 100 percent estate-grown. And in 2020, Shady Lane Cellars’ vineyard earned Sustainability in Practice – or SIP Certified – status. Visit www.shadylanecellars.com. Connect on Facebook or Instagram.