by Fred McMillin
for March 24, 1999


The Little Grape That Could


St. Julian  
"There are more than a few Michigan wines that I have rated among the fine wines of the world."

...The late dean of American wine writers, Leon Adams

"In the winter of January 1994 Michigan vineyard temperatures dropped to 22 degrees below. If we planted only European vines like Chardonnay and Merlot, there would have been no wine in '94."

...Dr. Stan Howell, Michigan State University

The Rest of the Story

So how does Michigan make award-winners even in the frigid years? They include such varieties as Seyval Blanc (say-vahl blahn), bred to withstand all sorts of adversity, including the cold, phylloxera, etc. It was created in France nearly a century ago by botanist Bertille Seyve and his father-in-law Victor Villard. A Michigan-grown St. Julian Seyval Blanc won Best of Category at the last L.A. Fair judging, and that's today's wine.

The Wine of the Day

1997 Sweet Reserve Seyval Blanc
Appellation—Lake Michigan (eastern) Shore.
This is important. I remember those bone-chilling westernly winds sweeping across the lake during my WW II navy training. Well, the Grossman Guide tells us that the east shore offers the most protection against those chillers, since the lake warms them. "And the resulting climate is similar to that of Germany. Hence, white wines are often vinified in the German style."

The Back Label on the St. Julian: Our Sweet Reserve is made in a Germanic style, that creates highly-flavorful semi-sweet wines.
Service—Give it about an hour in the frig before pouring. Delicious with rich crab and lobster dishes.
To My Students—Important to taste this wine to put the varietal and the region into your data base. Seyve and Villard created two zillion hybrids and this is their best. Regarding the region, my last figures show that if Lake Michigan and Lake Erie wines are combined, this is the third or fourth largest producing district in the U.S.
The Winery—St. Julian is Michigan's oldest and largest winery. Mariano Meconi founded the "Italian Wine Company" in Canada in 1921. He moved to Michgan in 1933 when Prohibition ended, and the name was changed to "St.Julian," the patron saint of Falaria, Italy, Mariano's birthplace. Winery President—David Braganini, grandson of the founder


If the name Julian sounds familiar, there are two JuliEns (note it's "e" not "a") in the wine world, the great Bordeaux township of St. Julien, and in Carmel Valley, the Chateau Julien Winery.


About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


WineDay Annex

More articles by
Fred McMillin


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