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Find Out How This Northern Michigan Winery Has Prepared Its Staff for This Safe, Busy Harvest Season

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SUTTON’S BAY, MICH. (Oct. 27, 2020) – At Shady Lane Cellars, the 2020 fall season feels  comfortably familiar – amid a challenging year.

In an industry so reliant on shifts in weather and requiring a lot of work in the open-air, many of the activities at the vineyard and winery in Sutton’s Bay will look very much the same this harvest season. And that’s a hopeful feeling for all involved. 

Winemaker Kasey Wierzba, of Shady Lane Cellars, said she considers herself and her co-workers lucky when it comes to the kind of work they do. The team often works outside in the open air, or within large buildings with plenty of space to social distance. Still, they’re being extra cautious in this era of COVID-19.

“We have all agreed to operate in a pod here,” Wierzba said. “Our interaction with people outside of work and our close family is limited.”

The decision to do so was important to the staff at Shady Lane Cellars so they can focus safely on the work at hand, while protecting one another as well as their families and visitors to the winery.

“At this time of year, we all know how important it is for us to all stay healthy and get the job done,” Wierzba added. “There really is no wiggle room to get sick. COVID-19, or not, the grapes are going to ripen and they are going to need to be picked.

“So, this fall, we will hand-harvest grapes as usual using our fantastic vineyard crew. We will process them the same day for ultimate quality on site at our estate winery and we will ferment and make wine as usual.” 

This past summer’s temperatures and growing season have set up Northern Michigan wineries like Shady Lane Cellars for a great vintage, according to Wierzba. She anticipates the harvest season will be as busy as usual, but is looking for ways to manage the anticipated high workload.

Most years at Shady Lane Cellars, the team will harvest its Cabernet Franc in early November. That timing provides less than seven weeks to process more than 100 tons of fruit in their vineyard.

“That’s an insane amount of work to do in such a short time,” Wierzba admitted. “This year I’m looking to pull the trigger on some varieties a little earlier, in an effort to spread our work out.”

Wondering what to expect from the winery in the meantime? There’s plenty whether you reserve a space on the patio or order online.

Shady Lane Cellars recently released its 2017 Pinot Noir Reserve. Wierzba fermented this wine using four different yeast varieties, then barrel-aged it for 23 months, blended and bottle-cellared it for a year. The result? Expect to taste a concentration of dark cherry, baking spice and hints of smoke and earth.

For those not ready to let go of the sparkle of summer, Wierzba announced that Brio by Shady Lane Cellars has a second release of Brio Bubbly Vibes. For sparkling wine fans, this is a chance to experience the newest brand of wines and friendly new can concept. So far, Wierzba said, Brio Bubbly Vibes has been a popular new choice. 

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. Tours, tasting experiences, private events and a wine club membership are all available. Visit www.shadylanecellars.com

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