Ryan, Robert and Shawn
Brengman Brothers winemaker Robert Brengman has directed the winemaking since its beginning and has taken the cellar reins himself with the 2017 vintage. He has always practiced dry farming, thinning the crop and harvesting the grapes by taste over chemistry. The goal has always been to develop a Leelanau terroir with an old-world spirit that, through time, becomes the benchmark for the region.
The cellar at Brengman Brothers has added a couple of key personnel to support raising the bar of the finished wines. Ryan Tompke is the new assistant wine maker and Shawn Walters from One World Winery is the all-important consultant to the process.
The timing of this brain and brawn addition to the cellar has created an upward shift in the quality of the finished wines as we have seen in the 2019 vintage and every vintages since. According to Robert, the relationship with these guys has changed the way the process is handled from the crush all the way through the bottling that allowed for a ‘less’ action practice in winemaking -- less movement through tanks and pumps, less time open to oxygen, less usage of fixing chemistry. A mastery of timing, temperature and positive use of gravity are the keys. I feel that all the wines have taken a notch up the quality scale, and we’re hearing it from our members and fans.
FINE WINE BRANDS - France’s finest vineyards are often designated ‘Grand Cru.’ We believe the location and work that goes into Brengman Brothers vineyards help grapes to ripen as well as the best vineyards on the planet. Our vineyards have a special spirit that express themselves as the vines mature. Dirt does matter! Entering our twentieth season we find ourselves looking at our past and, more importantly, future. We are excited and grateful to be part of Michigan’s contribution to the world wine revolution. It wouldn’t exist if the wonderful flavors of the vineyards were not here. Those flavors are here, and their existence is crucial to our own. We have found this wonderful gift from the unique dirt that we tend and special climate that nurtures it. We love it, tend it carefully and competently, and see that it continues to sing.
FINE SPIRIT BRANDS - Making grape brandy is similar to making whiskey, in that it begins with fermented grape juice — a simple wine. The wine from Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Ugni Blanc (Rotgiphler) is grown, produced, and bottled by Brengman Brothers. Our plan is to harvest slightly later than the norm, to produce wines between 10% and 10.5% alcohol. We want a lot of fruit character in the spirit at the end, so for that we need to have plenty of fruit at the beginning.
Another detail that we add to the process is to distill using both the lees of fermentation and the lees left after the settling process prior to fermentation (the bourbes) in the first distillation. This is technically challenging, but it is proven to produce a finer spirit of greater depth and complexity in taste and aroma.
All the spirits aging program takes place in wooden casks. They absorb flavors, color, and scents from the wood. The spirits are aged in both young and middle-aged French oak casks that were used in the winemaking program.