Winter Delights to showcase wine, jazz, food

Published 10:21 am Thursday, January 9, 2014

Bryan Lubeck will be performing at the Winter Delights Festival. (Submitted art)

Bryan Lubeck will be performing at the Winter Delights Festival. (Submitted photo)

Although the trellises in Michigan’s vineyards may well be covered by drifting snows, the Mendel Center at Lake Michigan College will soon offer wine lovers an opportunity to mingle with Michigan vintners and sample the fruits of their labors at the 5th Annual Winter Delights Festival.

“We have 23 Michigan wineries and a few local restaurants that will have booths with foods to taste,” said Tonya Martindale, director of conference and event services for the Lake Michigan College Mendel Center.

The event will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. Jan. 18 in the Grand Upton Hall of the Mendel Center on the Lake Michigan College campus, located at 2755 E. Napier Ave. in Benton Township, Mich.

“Tickets are $35 pre-purchase and $40 at the door,” Martindale said. “That includes 15 wine samples and $10 in food tickets.”

Event tickets can be purchased by calling the box office at (269) 927-1221 or by visiting the event’s website at Special pricing on tickets for designated drivers is also available. These tickets are just $15, and they include $10 worth of food tickets. All event-goers must be 21 years or older.

“It’s nice to pair some local food with the wines,” Martindale said.

“It’s fun to go around to the booths and meet some of the people who are making the wines,” Martindale said. “They can answer questions about the wines they’ve decided to bring to the festival. There will be some of the same wines from last year, but there will also be a lot of different wines as well.”

Michigan wineries that will be featured in the festival include local favorites as well as those from farther afield. Event-goers can expect to meet vintners and sommeliers from 12 Corners Vineyards, Baroda Founders Wine Cellar, Domaine Berrien Cellars, Leelanau Cellars Winery, Lehman’s Orchards, Lemon Creek Winery and White Pine Winery, just to name a few. A complete list of participating wineries can be found on the event’s website.

Restaurants and catering companies will include Santaniello’s Glenlord Restaurant, Tabor Hill Winery & Restaurant and the Mendel Center’s Conference and Event Catering Services. Piggott’s Farm Market & Bakery and the Michigan State University Extension will be represented as well.

“Purely Michigan and Lambrecht’s Liquors of St. Joseph will also be there with booths,” Martindale said.

For those who would like to learn even more about Michigan wines, two classes will be offered for an additional $10 each.

In “Wine 101,” certified sommelier Jason Forbes will teach participants how to evaluate wine like a professional in a fun and educational 40-minute seminar. “Judgment of Michigan” offers participants the opportunity to engage in a blind taste test in which Michigan wines will be set up against California counterparts.

Entertainment during the festival will be provided by Bryan Lubeck, known for his special blend of Spanish guitar and urban grooves.

“Bryan Lubeck is just amazing,” Martindale said. “His CD is in the Top 40 for the jazz charts.”

Lubeck has released four albums, including the most recent, “Tuscan Sky,” which came out in 2013. The single, “Tuscan Sky,” was listed by “Billboard” as one of the top five songs added to radio play in October 2013. His other albums include “Acoustic Vineyard,” “Vineyard Groove” and “We Three Strings.”

With Lubeck’s stated goal being the creation of albums that people can enjoy along with a glass of wine, organizers view him as a natural choice for entertainment at the Winter Delights Festival.

“This festival is for anyone who enjoys listening to smooth jazz and who wants to support local Michigan wineries,” Martindale said. “We look forward to it every winter. It’s a nice break for people to come out of the cold and enjoy Michigan wines.”