The 45th parallel--roughly halfway between the equator and the North Pole--cuts across the famed Hermitage Hill in the Northern Rhone and some similarly high-powered Barolo vineyards in the Piedmonte region of Italy. In North America, that latitude marks the Willamette Valley in Oregon...and the Leelanau and Old Mission Peninsulas in Michigan.
While lacking the prestige of these other wine-growing areas, Leelanau and Old Mission are certainly capable of producing world-class wines. When I first started visiting the area and tasting wines in the early 1980s, there were only a handful of wineries--L. Mawby, Good Harbor, Boskydel, Leelanau Cellars and Chateau Grand Traverse. New wineries are cropping up nearly every year, but these five early pioneers are still my favorites. Because they bought land when it was relatively inexpensive, their prices are reasonable, and their vines have reached a good state of maturity. More important, for me, the winemakers clearly share my view of wine as a beverage to be enjoyed with meals every day.