A family-owned winery in Traverse City is just waiting on the final stamp from the State of Michigan to open its new tasting lounge, kitchen and retail space in downtown Grand Rapids.
Forty Pearl, the latest venture from brothers Robert Brengman and Edward Brengman, who own Crane Hill Vineyard, expects to open its doors this month and host a grand opening celebration in early February.
“We expect to start stocking this week,” Robert Brengman said. “We are bringing some neat partners with us.”
Brengman said the Grand Rapids tasting lounge will carry wine from Crane Hill Vineyard as well as two additional Northern Michigan wineries, Bel Lago and Bonobo. It will also offer spirits from Grand Traverse Distillery.
The kitchen will serve small plates with menu items including charcuterie boards, oysters, tenderloin tips, shrimp cocktail, clams and other shellfish, salads, and sandwiches.
The menu will also provide pairing suggestions.
Brengman said because Forty Pearl is housed in a historic building, the interior design is meant to enhance its historic elements while blending them with modern fixtures and a bright environment.
Instead of dark woods reminiscent of the late 1800s, when the building was constructed, expect light woods and light accent colors. Concrete is also used to create a modern feel.
The atmosphere was also designed to create a welcome and relaxing environment. Forty Pearl is meant to be a place for people to socialize. Brengman said a series of farm tables creates a communal feel and invites conversation between strangers.
Forty Pearl will also be an educational center for those interested in learning more about Michigan wine.
“We are going to have a calendar of events and seminars. We think it’s important that we spend time on education if you want to learn about winemaking and Michigan wines,” Brengman said.
Brengman argues Michigan wineries make some of the best wines in the world and he wants to help people understand why the state produces such a high-quality product as well as increase the appreciation for Michigan wines.
“This is a chance to see and taste what we consider premier wine options, made from grapes grown in the state, and from an area everybody loves,” he said.
Brengman expects Forty Pearl to be a big hit with Grand Rapids residents. He noted, the Traverse City winery sees about 65 to 70 percent of its customers coming from Grand Rapids.
“Most people walking through our door are from Grand Rapids, so that is a sign for us, why not get closer to our base and put a tasting room in downtown Grand Rapids,” he said. “Why not give them the chance to visit us more than once or twice a year.”
Brengman and his brother started Crane Hill Vineyard in Traverse City in 2003, after purchasing a 45-acre plot of land. They’ve since bought up more acreage and now operate three approximately 50-acre grids, producing 5,000 cases of wine per year.
The pair began producing their own wine in 2010 and selling it in 2011, realizing they were sitting on land capable of producing “five-star” grapes. “We found out our grapes were five stars, really good fruit, and then we decided to make own wine,” Brengman said.