Michigan Wine at its Best: Burgdorf’s Winery, Tasting Room and Gift Shop

By Jane Whitttington on June 26th, 2015 / Comments

Viniculture (wine-making) is both an art and a science. And Deb and Doug Burgdorf have both disciplines covered. Deb is a microbiologist who previously worked in the fermentation field, and Doug is a long-time wine connoisseur and wine-making hobbyist who turned his interest into a vocation. Now their boutique winery, Burgdorf’s Winery, is a welcome addition to the Michigan landscape for oenophiles (wine lovers).

This year, Burgdorf’s Winery is celebrating its tenth year, but it all started very modestly in the Burgdorfs’ garage. Deb says, “Doug grew up on a farm while I was from the suburbs of Chicago. He was working for the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), and I worked in industrial fermentation. One year, Doug picked a bumper crop of black raspberries. I had done just about everything I knew how to do and still had so much left; I told him he would have to do something with all these berries. So he decided he’d try his hand at making wine. It was very elementary. After our sons grew up, I decided to leave my job and suggested that we go into wine-making seriously. We opened up the winery a year later.”

She continues, “We are not growers; we buy our grapes as locally as we can. All our grapes come from Michigan. We also get grapes from Michigan State University—they grow grapes that we use, and, in return, we work with their students to help them acquire skills. We make a Spartan Red, a Spartan White, and a Spartan Blush.”

They also made fruit wines including their first foray into the wine business, blackberry and others such as strawberry-rhubarb and elderberry.

Two of their newest wines hold a special place in their hearts: Faye, a Cabernet Franc, and Finlay’s Reserve, a bold, dry red wine, are named after their grandchildren.

There are numerous wine competitions around the country, and Burgdorf’s Winery has a substantial number of wins.

All of the wines are made onsite in their state-of-the-art facility. They now have eight part-time employees who work both in the wine-making side and in the gift shop and tasting room. The gift shop specializes in wine-related items, and the tasting room offers wine lovers the opportunity to try several different wines and choose their favorites.

According to Deb, “Wine doesn’t really have a season, but we are always busy around the holiday season, and during the summer, people seem to enjoy visiting to enjoy some country atmosphere with their wine.

“The winery is set amongst trees and fields in Haslett, Michigan, and is part of Southeast Michigan’s Pioneer Wine Trail, a consortium of wineries that holds special events from April through October. For more information, visit www.pioneerwinetrail.com

The Burgdorfs sell wine to area wine shops and restaurants including Dusty’s Cellar, Gracie’s Place and the Blue Gill Grill, all in the Lansing area.

During the recent recession, sales fell but have rebounded nicely. 2013 produced a record harvest, while last winter’s cold weather was not as good. Their wine production depends on what is available from local growers, and they have learned to conserve during bountiful years. According to Deb, last year was a great year for sales, and they are continuing to grow steadily, both in popularity and in the variety of wines they offer.

They participate with local restaurants, wine clubs and private parties for wine tasting and wine pairings, finding both those who have enjoyed their wine for years as well as those who are just discovering the pleasures of Burgdorf’s Winery.

For more information about the winery, visit their website at www.burgdorfwinery.com

About the Author

Jane Whitttington

Jane Whitttington

Jane Whitttington is a freelance writer and editor who lives in Grand Rapids. A Michigan native and Michigan State University grad, she enjoys reading, travel, politics and volunteering.