‘Leelanau casual’

Forty Pearl brings a taste of Up North to the city.
Try the wine at Forty Pearl and then grab a bottle to-go on your way home. Photos by David Sparks

If you are looking for the feeling of “Up North” without having to drive three hours, Forty Pearl is here for you. Located at 40 Pearl St. NW downtown, the restaurant and tasting room is an extension of Brengman Brothers’ Leelanau tasting room and a vehicle to share the winery’s products with Grand Rapids.

Brengman Brothers owns four vineyards in the Leelanau peninsula, where it grows, produces and bottles wines. It is best known for its white wines, but it also has red offerings.

In mid-2017, Brengman Brothers opened Forty Pearl as a tasting room with plans to add a full food menu, which it did this past fall. The menu is Michigan-focused with items including Lake Michigan perch and a venison burger. You’ll also find oysters, seafood and filet mignon on the menu, but rest assured, everything pairs perfectly with wine.

Executive chef Tyler Boeschenstein said while he wants the menu to include “something for everybody,” it also was important to keep that Leelanau spirit. “I like to stay in the realm of Michigan-centric and Leelanau casual,” he said.

The restaurant offers entrées, but Boeschenstein said there are a lot of shareable options meant to inspire a communal spirit and to encourage people to take their time, ordering small plates until they are full — and, of course, giving them ample time to taste plenty of wine.

Alivia Rutkowski, general manager of Forty Pearl.

Alivia Rutkowski, general manager of Forty Pearl, said Brengman Brothers has won several awards for its wines. “They started making wine in 2011, and they’ve been winning awards for their wines throughout the years,” she said, noting, “The Right Bank and Left Bank reds, they’re really proud of those.”

But white wines are the winery’s specialty, and it uses a concrete barrel process for several of them. “The concrete aging process, which is new to the scene, porous concrete barrels give it a lemony and acidic note,” Boeschenstein said.

One of the best times to visit Forty Pearl is on Wednesdays when it offers $10 select wine flights. You can grab a table by the window or at the bar and enjoy the calming feeling created by the softwoods and bucolic scenes of sheep and vineyards framed on the walls. Forty Pearl also has space for larger parties and offers catering.

If you try a wine you like, you can take it home with you. Forty Pearl offers wine to-go, with a vast selection lining the wall just opposite the doorway.

So, take a trip “Up North” without leaving home.

Wines for all
Sauvignon Blanc
2018 Vintage silver medal winner at the 2019 Jefferson Cup. Lime and green apple flavors produced from the unique dirt and special climate in Leelanau. Glass $7, Bottle $26
2016 Pinot Noir
Aromas of candied cherries and lemongrass, leading into toffee and autumn olive with satin tannins. Glass $11, Bottle $41
Left Bank
Award-winning 2017 Red Blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and petit verdot. Aromas of violet and blueberries, medium full body with an extremely long, perfect finish. Glass $18, Bottle $68

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