California, New York, Oregon and Washington don’t have a monopoly on sun, dirt, water and talented winemakers. Here we look at the best producers in America's unsung wine regions.
Left Foot Charley; Traverse City, Michigan
Michigan: that great mitten in the north, home of Motown, Eminem, Little Caesars and some pretty tasty white wine. Left Foot Charley, located in the former North Michigan Asylum of Traverse City, makes an excellent white blend called Murmur ($15) that has bright acidity and a floral and fruit inflected nose that’s not cloying or tropical. Murmur is what founder-winemaker Bryan Ulbrich (who, as a child, had an inward turning left foot), calls an “all-star wine.” “It’s made very deliberately,” he says, with the idea being to pick from vineyards that will give the blend terrific aromatics and solid body. Left Foot Charley also specializes in Riesling—dry, as well as the excellent Missing Spire ($18), which has enough residual sugar to act as a German wine substitute at your favorite Chinese BYO. In fact, Riesling was Bryan’s first love. He moved to Michigan in the mid ‘90s and started Left Foot Charley in 2004 with one Riesling vineyard. “I’d tasted Michigan wines and the acidity and vibrancy reminded me of Germany. And in Michigan, we didn’t need to be landed gentry to work in the wine business.” Though Missing Spire is a bit sweet, it's terrifically balanced. “The acid is the main driver of the wine,” says Ulbrich, “The sugar just wraps around it to glue everything together.”