How did you get the name Left Foot Charley?
As a child, Bryan was an impulsive kid with an inward leaning left foot. This combined with the unencumbered enthusiasm to run before thinking caused him to trip and eat a lot of earth in his day. The nickname grew our of family parties and to this day its true origin remains a bit of a mystery. His taste for dirt has been refined over the years – more in line with the concept of terroir.
Where are your vineyards?
LFC does not own any vineyards. Instead, we have long-term relationships with several growers on Old Mission and Leelanau peninsulas and in Antrim and Benzie County. These are individuals who own 1-12 acres and farm grapes to our mutual specifications. They are all experienced farmers who have very significant sites for growing the grape varieties we need. These small vineyards are more like a family farm so you will not find a tasting room there. They concentrate on growing beautiful grapes for us so we can then concentrate on making beautiful wines.
We are fortunate to buy our grapes from guys who love wine, relish in a challenge, and own parcels of land well suited to raising vines. Our terrain is varied. The glaciers carved out pastoral rolling hills but their retreat also dictated that the vineyards sites must be carefully chosen. We look for west and south facing slopes, conditions which help the vines capture the precious glow of the sun.
Each vineyard has a story to tell and it is being told right now in the wine. Follow the wines and you will hear an unwritten tale.
How can you grow grapes in Michigan? It’s too darned cold!
It’s not cold it’s cool. We are protected by water. The bays are very deep and act as a heat pump. In the spring the cool water delays bud break and this helps us avoid spring frosts. During the summer it is typically warm, sunny, and dry. The bays heat up. During the fall they release this heat and keep us above freezing often into November. This extends our growing season and allows us to pick perfectly ripe fruit. The winter brings a lot of lake effect snow which insulates our vines from frigid temperatures. This is a micro-climate and usually does not fall below zero in the vineyards.
Are your wines available near me?
You are most likely to find us in smaller, specialty stores and markets. You can find us in markets and restaurants around Michigan, Minnesota, and New York. If you’re over 21 we can ship! To find out shipping availability and pricing, please visit our Wines and Ciders page.
Are your grapes organic?
No. We try to follow an organic program but we keep a few tools in the box just in case. We follow a program called Integrated Pest Management to limit the necessity of spraying. We use a lot of organically rated material like clay, baking soda, and compost but none of our vineyards are classified organic. The nice thing about Northern Michigan is that we have very low disease and pest pressure. Most bugs can’t handle the winter and it’s relatively dry up here so we don’t get excessive mildew pressure. This keeps our reliance on chemicals to a minimum. No sprays are applied after August so the grapes arrive with no residue.
Do you charge for your tasting?
Yes. We offer 6 wines or ciders of your choice (that’s just over one glass of wine!) for just $5.