Cogdal Vineyards is located a 1/2 mile off Lake Michigan off of the scenic Blue Star Highway, just north of South Haven MI. It was a beautiful drive in October at the time of this visit by me and my wife. The property has a rich history, from the early years of being farmed by Harry Cogdal, who bought the farm in 1910, to the establishment of the vineyard in 2008 by his grandson Jack Murdoch, and his wife Deb.
The property has been been used to grow fruit trees, vegetables, Christmas trees, asparagus, a nursery, and now the vineyard. There are currently 7 acres of a variety of vines, with plans to expand to 18 acres.
The tasting room is small and cozy, with a selection of souvenir and gift items in the shop. The interior design incorporates cherry and maple that was harvested and milled on site from the property.
The staff are extremely personable and knowledgeable about the vineyards and wines. We had a nice time visiting with them while sampling wine selections.
Cogdal Vineyards Wines are the signatures wines, while Little Man Winery Wines are a collection of fun wines with names that pay homage to family and the wonderful Lake Michigan area. The wines are all created using estate grown and locally sourced grapes.
In the beginning, Dan McNulty, a former wine maker at Fenn Valley Vineyards & Wine Cellar, helped them make the wine and start the vineyard. Over the years Jack was able to learn Dan’s wine-making knowledge and techniques and is now the wine maker.
I always try to do a little online research before visiting a winery. One of the things that drew me to visit Cogdal Vineyards was their large selection of wines. It was not necessarily the size of the menu, but that it incorporates many varieties that I like, along with a few of which I am not familiar.
My selected flight concentrated on the dry reds, but there are many dry and semi dry whites, and sweet whites and reds from which to choose. My tasting included the following, which includes the wine makers tasting notes, along with my own.
- Vin Rouge – “Scents and tastes of juicy red and blue fruits are plentiful in this easy drinking wine with a velvety smooth finish. This zesty wine is a wonderful addition to our dry red line up. The grape used in our Vin Rouge originated in Austria and Germany and is called Lemberger and Blaufrankisch. Made with Lemberger @ 0.2% r.s.” This was my second time trying Blaufrankisch, and was one of my purchases.
- Reflection – This dark red wine begins with hints of cedar on the nose, followed by a unique balance of jammy blue fruits and spice on the palate. The sun’s bursting radiance through dark clouds defined the moment and brings reflection when drinking the wine. The label photo is a cell phone picture taken through the car window while driving on vacation. Made with Chambourcin @ 0.5% r.s. Chambourcin is one of my favorite mid-west specific varieties.
- Red Tail – This unique wine starts out smooth with red fruity flavors and ends dry, with a hint of the bourbon barrel. Additionally, the bourbon barrel brings out notes of cedar and spice on the palette. The red tail hawks have been here since the very beginning, perching on the top of the winery while it was being built. Made with Chambourcin @ 0.5% r.s. Sure, another Chambourcin, but bourbon barrel storage adds complexity to the flavor profile that is always worth trying.
- Cabernet Franc – This medium bodied oaked wine has a dark cherry and strawberry nose, abundant spice, and a long finish that lingers on the palate. The first red grape we planted has responded favorably to our location. We love the Cab Franc as a single varietal as well as with our many blends. Made with Cabernet Franc @ 0.5% r.s. I’m still blown away that Cabernet Franc thrives so well in Michigan. Being a Bordeaux Varietal shoots it to the top of one of my favorites. This was another purchase of the day.
- V.P.S. (Vision Private Selection) – This complex, medium bodied wine offers a cedar and spice nose, complemented with dark red fruit notes, and rounded out with a touch of oak. This label extends our “vision” of dry reds with a version of a classic blend of old world grapes. Made with Cab Franc, Merlot, and Cab Sav @ 0.4% r.s. I love Bordeaux blends, especially those that are Cab or Cab Franc heavy. Of course I had to try it and purchase a bottle.
Jack was present on the day of our visit and took time to visit with us. He also invited me to step into his production area. I truly appreciate opportunities like this to learn more about the owners, wine makers, and operations.
It is always nice to see a business that gives back to the community. Every month Cogdal Vineyards designates a charity to receive $0.25 of every bottle sold.
I thank Jack and the staff for their hospitality, and recommend this as a stop when in the area. Enjoy the wonderful wines being created in this small but impressive winery.