Austin Beeman

L Mawby Vineyards Review

4519 Elm Valley Rd, Suttons Bay, MI 49682
Phone: (231) 271-3522

The quality of L Mawby Vineyards is no secret to the residents of Michigan and Northern Ohio, who flock to the Leelanau Peninsula and Traverse City by the thousands every Summer.  This deceptively humble vineyard is making the finest Sparkling Wine in the United States, and doing so without the spotlight of the rest of the wine world.

With irreverent names like Fizz and Sex, you might expect this to be a fun place to relax with friends and eat delicious whitefish pate and you’d be right.  Don’t miss fifteen different sparkling wines made across the L Mawby and M Lawrence brands, from the refined classic Champagne Method to the simple Prosecco-style fun bubbles.  The wines also run entire spectrum from aged and dry to very sweet with all stops in-between.

There is always a wine for tasting free of charge; and paid tasting flights of 2 sparkling wines with small bites of food, costing $9; and wines by the glass for $6 or $9.   The hours fluctuate based on the season with summer hours being much more expansive.

Group tastings and elaborate dinners or weddings in the vineyards are frequent, but that requires a little advance planning.  There is also a wine club for locals where you can attend a BUBBLYbbq and BUBBLYbrunch.

Some of my favorite wines are.

L Mawby Blanc de Blancs.  $23.00 This is bone-dry Champagne Method sparkling wine with lean crisp purity.  The wine that you wish cheap Champagne was, but never is.

37. Mawby Talismon.  $37.00 A blend of vignoles, pinot noir, pinot gris, and chardonnay grapes that are hand picked and carefully whole – cluster pressed.   Then aged solera for quite a long time for the extremely yeasty thick flavors inherent in old Champagne. Not for everyone, but incredibly distinctive.

Donkey & Goat Winery & Tasting Room

1340 5th Street, Berkeley California 94710
Friday – Sunday 1-6pm

On a quiet street in the ‘warehouse district’ of Berkeley, you find the unassuming entrance to Donkey and Goat.  This urban winery feels like something new and fresh, but they’ve been making wine here since 2006. You definitely feel the solid metal structure in the living room, but the wines are organic.  Mostly biodynamic naturally, with all of the complexity and vibrancy of acid that is pregnant in that title.

The staff is warm and knowledgeable as you belly up the bar.  There isn’t a lot of room here, but you get the feeling that this place is a secret of sommeliers and geeky wine folk.  If that is you, you’ll have a home at Donkey and Goat.

The wines are sourced from throughout California with a serious emphasis on a coolest vineyards (calorically, not popularity.)  You’ll see a lot of regions that you likely won’t recognize. The wines are low alcohol, as a rule, with funky aromatics, and lots of acid and complexity.  

Donkey and Goat produces wines that have more in common with the European wines of Kermit Lynch (a few streets over in Berkeley) than the richness fruit of Napa Valley (only 1 hour away.)