TV home-improvement guru Carter Oosterhouse is out to create a new kind of Michigan winery—with a big assist from his wife, Amy Smart, and star chef Mario Batali. (Batali helped with the tasting room menu, he's not an owner).
Golf and a shared love for northern Michigan helped create a bond between star chef Mario Batali and hunky HGTV host and carpenter Carter Oosterhouse. “Mario is a damn good golfer—much better than I am,” Carter says. Now the two are collaborating on a menu for the tasting room at Bonobo, Carter’s winery project with his wife, actress Amy Smart, and his brother Todd and sister-in-law Caroline. The menu focuses on classics like pasta all’Amatriciana and local ingredients like cherries and whitefish. Says Carter, “I always felt that we needed a great complement to our wines, and I was fortunate enough to know Mario, so I thought, Why not ask him to help us?” Bonobo, located on a former cherry orchard where the Oosterhouse brothers worked as kids, has an oversize tasting bar that Carter built. “I bought three old barns from a friend and used the wood to make it,” he says. Constructing a bar wasn’t difficult for Carter; growing Riesling and Chardonnay and making terrific wine is more challenging. “Wine feels like something you never fully master,” he says. “It’s like golf.”
Below, Mario Batali quizzes Carter and Amy on their new winery, cooking and their favorite local restaurants.