Wyncroft began in 1998 as a labor of love for Rae Lee and Jim Lester, who moved from Washington State to southwest Michigan in the early 1980's. Their goal: to craft world-class, wines that reflect Lake Michigan Shore's microclimate and their low-yield, unirrigated vineyard.
Wyncroft operates in the style of a tiny French "garagiste" winery. With no tasting room, its limited-release wines are more frequently talked about than tasted, available only by mailing list and at a select group of restaurants. Wyncroft now offers a small amount of wine through its website wine shop.
After a long illness, Rae Lee passed away in February, 2009. Jim, now joined by their son, Eric, has rededicated himself to the wines he and Rae Lee have loved, with one hope: when you taste Wyncroft, you say to yourself, "THAT'S the kind of wine Michigan is capable of producing."
Website photographs by Trevor Rudderham
Avonlea Vineyard is just outside the small town of Buchanan, less than ten miles from the Lake Michigan shore. That's near enough to benefit from the lake's moderating climatic influence, yet far enough for the vines to take root in a clay loam soil that's rich in minerals, rather than the sand that predominates closer to the lakeshore.
We planted the vineyard in 1990. About 10 acres are currently under vine, with nearly five of Chardonnay, half an acre of Riesling, an acre of Pinot Noir and the rest Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc for our Shou blend.
Our Pinot Noir is similar to Pommard or Chambertin, with deep color, bright ripe berry and cherry aromas and flavors, fairly crisp acidity when young, and velvety texture when mature. The barrels contribute chocolate and spice to the nose and palate, while Avonlea Vineyard reveals itself in the mineral notes. Find out more. CURRENT RELEASE: 2011 SOLD OUT
Our flagship wine, Shou (the Chinese symbol for longevity, pronounced "show") blends Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc in the style of the wines of Pauillac and Margaux. Our fruit ripens fully at fairly low sugar levels, so the resulting wine has the refreshing character and bright fruit of fine Bordeaux. Find out more. CURRENT RELEASE: 2011 SOLD OUT
Our traditionally Burgundian Chardonnay shows lush ripe fruit, crisp acidity, and mineral, vanilla, and spice on the palate. Grapes are harvested at optimal maturity, immediately pressed, and the fresh juice put into oak barrels for fermentation and maturation. Our Chardonnay is ready to drink on release, though it can age well. Find out more. CURRENT RELEASE: 2008
CHARDONNAY -- CUVÉE RAE LEE
Starting with the 2011 vintage, we began to produce Chardonnay in the style preferred by Rae Lee Lester -- fermented and aged on the lees for several months in neutral barrels, with only partial malolactic fermentation (or none at all). This yields a wine with crisp, apply acidity and a full body, styled like Premier Cru Chablis. CURRENT RELEASE: 2012 SOLD OUT
We make Riesling in the style of Alsace and Austria -- full-bodied, dry, with crisp acidity, pear, apple, and mineral elements. After pressing, the juice is transferred to a tank and cold-fermented dry to emphasize the wine's fresh fruit and structure. Riesling can age far better than most white wines; we enjoy drinking a bottle both when it's young and fresh and after it's had time to develop more complex flavors and depth in the bottle. Find out more. CURRENT RELEASE: 2012
Wyncroft is proud of the fine restaurants throughout Michigan, Northern Indiana and the Chicago area that include our wines on their lists.
Some are featured on this page; click here to view or print the entire list of restaurants currently serving Wyncroft.
We encourage you to dine at these restaurants and ask for our wines while you're there. Since our production is limited and not every restaurant stocks the entire Wyncroft range, please understand if a particular wine isn't available when you visit.