Brewvine: Soul Squeeze Cellars Prepares for Grape Growing Season

“Bud break” is an important time of year for Northern Michigan wine makers.

Whitney Amann and photojournalist Jeremy Erickson are visiting Wooden Fish Vineyard in Leelanau County to show you how Soul Squeeze Cellars is preparing for this year’s grape growing season.

“We had a pretty good year last year in 2020 but this year we’re actually 10 days ahead in terms of bud break so that any day we can get growing day wise really helps out,” said Luke Pickelman, owner of Soul Squeeze Cellars.

“Bud break” is the first indication that the grape growing season is underway.

The signs of vine life are starting to show up all throughout Wooden Fish Vineyard in Leelanau County where Soul Squeeze Cellars grows seven of its varietals.

“Soul Squeeze works with a few growers in the region and they are the backbone of the entire industry,” said Pickelman. “We leased this from Randy but he planted it with an enthusiasm for grape growing and they’re essential to what we’re trying to do here.”

During bud break, Soul Squeeze takes time to evaluate any damage to the vines from the winter months and begins putting together their game plan to care for their vines.

Adapting to things like weather and pest control all throughout the growing season.

“The pinot gris that comes from this vineyard is called ‘The Good Fight’ for a reason because this is a battle every year, every vineyard, every season has its own challenges and you have to rise up and deal with those challenges,” he said. “And it’s a fight but it’s good because we do it because we love the process. We’re connected to the fruit and we really want to bring people the best wine that we can.”

That connection to the fruit, the partnerships and all of their hard work caring for these vines is paying off.

Resulting in a few victories for Soul Squeeze Cellars.

“We just received word that we won some awards for our wines our Riesling, received the judges selection award which is a pretty high for this particular international wine show,” said Pickelman. “The pinot gris from Wooden Fish received a silver award and we’re really excited about that and it’s one of our most popular products in the tasting room and statewide in terms of distribution.”

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