Why We RecommendNo need to spend time and miles venturing to the tip of the peninsulas for a great pour when you can visit this amazing urban winery right in the heart of Traverse City. And since Left Foot Charley features bottles comprising the best grapes from 18 of Northern Michigan’s premier growers, it doesn’t scrimp on quality either. You’ll feel the synergy of this growing power in Murmur, a blend of Pinot Grigio, Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay. The grapes join perfectly, just like the wine’s namesake—those clouds of starling birds (or “murmurations”) that seem to soar together as one.
The tasting room is a striking, modern-industrial space. Once the laundry facility to the former Michigan State Hospital (read: asylum!), it boasts 16-foot ceilings and gleaming greenhouse windows from top to bottom. Needless to say, you’ll feel wildly nurtured here, much like the 18-foot-tall fig plant climbing the wall. In this historic place, Left Foot Charley has been making history of its own, being the first local winery to offer hard cider in what has since been seen as a major trend-setting move for the region.
The out-of-the-box location and offerings are just some of the examples of how Left Foot Charley approaches things a bit differently. In the wine world, where “sideways” often describes getting tipsy on fine beverages and seeing the world from a new perspective, owner and winemaker Bryan Ulbrich seems to have had a uniquely inspired vantage point his entire life. Urban legend tells how Bryan, as an enthused child, was prone to moving too fast and stumbling, where he’d inevitably end of peering at his surroundings from a new angle. What started out as his clumsy nickname, later inspired the name of his drinking establishment. Even some of the bottles, like Stumble (a collision of Riesling and Gewürztraminer), hint at the idea. He, and his co-owner wife Jen, must be doing something right. Locals and visitors alike love returning to Left Foot Charley for its delightfully off-kilter approach to traditional wineries.
What's Up Recommendation
Cinnamon Girl Hard Cider: This is their best seller for good reason. It harbors a strong scent and subtly sweet taste, courtesy of Sumatran Korjinte cinnamon and Vietnamese cinnamon, along with Michigan heirloom apples. For a special treat during the long winter, try warming this liquid low and slow over heat so as not to lose the alcohol. Toss in some orange peels, a dash of sugar and a cinnamon stick for a rich mulled-wine experience. Or for a bite of tart green apple taste, blend chilled Cinnamon Girl with the Antrim Country Hard Cider.