From Equations to Enology, the birth of bigLittle Wines
Episode 1251st September 2023 • Total Michigan • Cliff Duvernois
00:00:00 00:26:00

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Mike Laing gave up a promising career in teaching mathematics in order to pursue their family passion for winemaking. All these years later and Mike and his brother Peter have carved quite a niche for themselves in Michigan wines. In this episode, Mike shares how they create fantastic wines with unique names, what wines you should try, and how to best enjoy your wines.

Links:

https://biglittlewines.com

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Transcripts

Speaker:

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines: you know, I'm lucky.

Speaker:

A very lucky, obviously.

Speaker:

and the real like beauty of, growing grapes and making wine

Speaker:

is sharing it with people.

Speaker:

It's a social, beverage.

Speaker:

It's a beverage that really shines when paired with the right foods.

Speaker:

And, these are stories that we try to tell in our tasting room and things that

Speaker:

we hope unite people with bigLittle.

Cliff Duvernois:

Hello everyone and welcome back to Total Michigan where

Cliff Duvernois:

we interview ordinary people who are doing some pretty extraordinary

Cliff Duvernois:

things in our Michigan community.

Cliff Duvernois:

Today's guest definitely would fit that bill.

Cliff Duvernois:

We are continuing, our trek around, the Leelanau Peninsula to actually

Cliff Duvernois:

take some time to stop in at some vineyards and some pretty cool things

Cliff Duvernois:

that are actually going on there.

Cliff Duvernois:

Today I am sitting with Mike Laing.

Cliff Duvernois:

He is the owner, co-founder of bigLittle Wines.

Cliff Duvernois:

Mike, how are you?

Cliff Duvernois:

I am doing awesome.

Cliff Duvernois:

Thank you for asking.

Cliff Duvernois:

Why don't you tell us a little bit about where you're from and where you grew up?

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

Absolutely.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

My brother and I, my brother's name is Peter.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

We grew up in Ann Arbor.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

And, always visited northern Michigan because our grandparents, lived

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

part of the year in Frankfurt.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

And so we had a connection to this area.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

Where we're sitting is Sutton's Bay, about an hour east.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

But still, similar area.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

From Ann Arbor, visited this area growing up.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

And, I don't know.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

Our parents really created this opportunity for us to, work together,

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

to grow grapes and make wines here.

Cliff Duvernois:

So your parin, so your parents were in already into wine.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

they're more entrepreneurial than wine lovers.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

they enjoy wine.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

but my father really wanted to change careers and get into agriculture.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

He's always, he was always interested in that and never really had an

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

opportunity until he he quit his, his career in manufacturing in the

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

Detroit area and said, you know what?

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

I'm gonna, I'm gonna do this.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

I'm gonna grow grapes.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

specifically I'm gonna, I'm gonna grow something, farm something.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

Grapes.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

Grapes were, the crop.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

And, he fulfilled his own lifelong dream, of farming.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

he'd always had that kind of in the back of his mind.

Cliff Duvernois:

He just really wanted to create the life that he

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

yeah.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

Yeah.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

and then, combined with that was his vision of bringing the family together

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

to work together in a family business.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

bigLittle was started by my brother and I to put our own

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

stamp on Leland a Peninsula Wines.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

so yeah.

Cliff Duvernois:

Now before this, before you got into wine,

Cliff Duvernois:

you were actually a teacher?

Cliff Duvernois:

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines: I was a teacher, yeah.

Cliff Duvernois:

So grew up in Ann Arbor.

Cliff Duvernois:

But left to go to school in Ohio, not Ohio State, in case anybody's

Cliff Duvernois:

got some serious thoughts about that.

Cliff Duvernois:

went to Miami of Ohio, got a math education degree.

Cliff Duvernois:

I taught high school math, both in, the suburbs of Chicago as well

Cliff Duvernois:

as overseas for about six years.

Cliff Duvernois:

And then, and then I came here to pursue the opportunity of growing

Cliff Duvernois:

grapes and making wine with my family.

Cliff Duvernois:

So what was the attraction?

Cliff Duvernois:

Then if you went off and started your career and you're obviously doing

Cliff Duvernois:

really well, you're teaching overseas.

Cliff Duvernois:

What was the attraction to come back and say, you know what, I'm gonna hang up

Cliff Duvernois:

my hat on education and go into wine?

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

Yeah.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

It was a hard decision, honestly, because I had, always, I had wanted

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

to be a teacher, specifically a math teacher since I was 17.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

before I went to college, I knew what I wanted to do.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

Went, went out and did it and was rather independent.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

living overseas.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

had great experiences teaching both domestically and internationally

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

traveled a lot, so it was a big decision for me to to try this, to come home

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

and actually start at an entry level position because I was just establishing

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

my teaching career, getting going.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

I wanted to try something different.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

And something with my family and, it was hard at first, honestly,

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

but, but now it's awesome.

Cliff Duvernois:

And I can imagine that the one thing that having a career is

Cliff Duvernois:

you have the comfort of that weekly check coming in all of a sudden now

Cliff Duvernois:

when you're working for yourself, all of a sudden it's like very different.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

Yeah.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

when I first started, so I first started working in the wine industry for Mawby.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

And we spun bigLittle off a few years later.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

But that was 2007 and I was just hourly.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

My family was not yet involved in Mawby on a partnership level, so I was hourly.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

However, I was making 10 bucks an hour doing this, that, or the other.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

Odd jobs trying to prove myself.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

So that was hard.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

And yeah, and living at home where I was independently living by myself in

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

another country, traveling all over.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

So it was, at the f at the beginning, it was touch and go for me.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

Sure.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

I was close to saying, forget this.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

But then my family partnered with Larry Mawby, which was a great decision.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

He's a real leader and has been for decades, in the

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

Michigan wine making community.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

So he was a very good per person to partner with.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

He was a very, good person to learn the business from.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

And I slowly was given more opportunities in the cellar, as

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

well as on the sales side, as well as other decision making freedoms.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

And, it all developed from there.

Cliff Duvernois:

Now, when bigLittle Wines was first formed, right?

Cliff Duvernois:

And you and your brother decided to do this, did you approach him?

Cliff Duvernois:

Did he approach you?

Cliff Duvernois:

How did that conversation go?

Cliff Duvernois:

Yes.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

So to give a little bit more context,

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

when we first entered a partnership with Larry Mawby on the Mawby

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

business, that was a seven year deal.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

After which time he could have taken one of the brands and

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

kind of done his own thing.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

Ultimately he, Larry Mawby, decided not to.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

He decided to stay partners with us.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

But we were looking at that as, an opportunity to start a different brand

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

that would compliment Mawby or maybe be its own thing if Larry decided to

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

take, some of those Mawby wines with him and, and go his own direction.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

So I think for my brother and I, it was a lot of conversations.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

and ultimately it was the desire to create wines that we thought

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

were cool styles from fruit grown in the Leelanau Peninsula.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

it's kind of like our artistic outlet and as it ended up, bigLittle, big

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

Brother, little Brother is essentially an extension of really who we are.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

So it's very easy for us to talk about the brand.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

It's, all the wines are named after childhood memories.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

So it's really an extension of ourselves and hopefully, some of these

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

wine names or labels or stories or whatever, others can relate to as well.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

mix tape.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

a lot of people made mix tapes.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

yeah.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

tree house, crayfish, dune climb.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

these are things we both experienced growing up in Ann Arbor as well

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

as visiting Frankfurt as kids.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

And memories that that, I'm sure other people have had either in northern

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

Michigan or in their childhood.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

So yeah, it's, it's an extension of who we are.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

But it's also like an olive branch for others to hopefully remember those

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

memories as well and connect with the brand in their own unique way.

Cliff Duvernois:

When I pulled up here today, one of the things that I saw

Cliff Duvernois:

upfront was a sign that said 10 years.

Cliff Duvernois:

So it's 10 years you guys have been in business.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

Yeah, it's been a little bit longer

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

than that, but the tasting room itself has been open for 10 years.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

it's been a little bit longer than that because we started selling bigLittle

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

wines, to restaurants and retailers before we opened our tasting room.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

But in the winter of 12, 13 we, converted a, what was formerly a

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

rental unit, a rental residence into our bigLittle tasting room.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

there are certain things you have to make, you have to make the,

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

tasting room handicap accessible and re we had to redo the bathroom

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

and just this, that, and the other.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

But yeah, so it was 2013 that we opened our doors here next to Mawby.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

So we're celebrating our 10th anniversary.

Cliff Duvernois:

congratulations.

Cliff Duvernois:

Thank you.

Cliff Duvernois:

I ha if I'd known that I would've brought a birthday cake or something.

Cliff Duvernois:

' cause this is big deal.

Cliff Duvernois:

next time, I wanna go back and explore something that you were just talking

Cliff Duvernois:

about because you're relatively at this time, going back to 2012, 2013,

Cliff Duvernois:

you're relatively unknown, but as you just shared, you were out there

Cliff Duvernois:

selling bigLittle wines to restaurants.

Cliff Duvernois:

So how did you go about I guess positioning yourself so when you go in

Cliff Duvernois:

there, you can let these people know, Hey, we're producing great quality wines.

Cliff Duvernois:

We're doing it consistently.

Cliff Duvernois:

So if you serve it to your guests, they're always gonna have

Cliff Duvernois:

a great experience in a glass.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

Yeah.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

we we approached it from the angle of, we're part owners of Mawby.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

This is our side project, because you'll find this all over the world where

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

maybe the younger generation or, a winemaker that kind of wants to do their

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

own thing might start their own brand.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

even though they have, a day job that pays the main bills with another

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

brands, they'll spin off their own.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

So this is pretty common all over the world.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

we we, told that story like, we've learned how to make wine, from Larry Mawby and

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

we want to get to, we wanted to really get to know those people around the state

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

that were buying and selling wine because, that's what really makes wholesaling

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

your wines work, our relationships.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

and it was important for us.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

To be pretty well distributed so that we're a little more visible, to

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

the consumer so that, you earn some street cred that way being listed

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

on a, a menu of a nice restaurant or featured in a nice bottle shop.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

so I don't know if that answers your question,

Cliff Duvernois:

Oh, it certainly does.

Cliff Duvernois:

Somewhat.

Cliff Duvernois:

No, it certainly does.

Cliff Duvernois:

That's great.

Cliff Duvernois:

What I would like to do now is explore, because really coming in,

Cliff Duvernois:

you've got an opportunity to just create any wine that you want.

Cliff Duvernois:

why did you decide to pick those wines?

Cliff Duvernois:

And we're gonna talk more about that in the second half of the show.

Cliff Duvernois:

But why did you decide to pick these particular wines to make?

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

Well, first we have to use grape varieties that

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

grow well here in Northern Michigan.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

So we're somewhat limited there.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

For example, we cannot grow, Cabernet Sauvignon.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

Or, nebbiolo or, picpoul or, I don't know, grapes like this.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

We can't grow those here.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

We don't have enough heat.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

So we're limited there, on the varieties we can grow.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

And also one.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

And opportunity we have with the bigLittle brand is that if we have

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

excess fruit growing in the vineyards that are designated for bigLittle

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

wines, and what I mean by excess, so we make wine to our sales numbers.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

And if we have extra, if we have too much fruit, we can channel those

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

grapes towards, Wines in the ma Mawby program and that's pretty unique.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

Not all wineries can do that because not all wineries have that option.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

so there's flexibility there.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

to get to the core of your question, we wanna make wines that are

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

interesting to us, that we think will be interesting to others.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

We want to use grape varieties that grow well here.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

We wanna select blends, combine grapes that work well together.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

And, we think, for example, varieties like Pinot blanc or Gamay or Pinot

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

noir or Pinot gri, those can go a lot of different directions.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

Those could be made as nons sparkling wines.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

Those could be made as Rosé.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

Those could be made as Pét-nats.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

Those could be made as, in some cases red wines.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

So I like flexibility.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

It makes sense from a business perspective.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

And so we're thinking about a lot of different things when we choose blends

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

or what to plant, or what wines to make

Cliff Duvernois:

sure.

Cliff Duvernois:

For our audience, we're gonna take a quick break to think

Cliff Duvernois:

our sponsors when we come back.

Cliff Duvernois:

We're gonna dive into some of these absolutely delicious

Cliff Duvernois:

wines from bigLittle wines.

Cliff Duvernois:

We'll see you after the break.

Cliff Duvernois:

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Cliff Duvernois:

Hello everyone, and welcome back to Total Michigan.

Cliff Duvernois:

I'm your host, Cliff DuVernois.

Cliff Duvernois:

Today we're talking with Mike Laing, co-owner, co-founder of bigLittle

Cliff Duvernois:

Wines up in the Traverse City area.

Cliff Duvernois:

Mike.

Cliff Duvernois:

It's that time of the show where we're gonna start talking about the good stuff,

Cliff Duvernois:

right?

Cliff Duvernois:

So what do you have for us today?

Cliff Duvernois:

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines: in front of us.

Cliff Duvernois:

There's a wine called Mixtape.

Cliff Duvernois:

This was the third wine we produced.

Cliff Duvernois:

Our first vintage of this wine was 2011.

Cliff Duvernois:

This is the 2021 mixtape.

Cliff Duvernois:

So this is 10 years of Mixtape.

Cliff Duvernois:

And, again, bigLittle wines.

Cliff Duvernois:

all the wines are named after childhood memories.

Cliff Duvernois:

So mix tape.

Cliff Duvernois:

We, we remember making, mixed tapes of carefully arranged tracks meant to,

Cliff Duvernois:

convey a specific message to the listener.

Cliff Duvernois:

And, For this wine, this is a field blend.

Cliff Duvernois:

So the grapes, for this wine, of which there are several varieties used, are

Cliff Duvernois:

grown together and harvested together.

Cliff Duvernois:

And we use Alsatian varieties that are native to, Eastern France,

Cliff Duvernois:

such as, Riesling, Gewurztraminer or Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc.

Cliff Duvernois:

And, every year that wine, this wine is a little bit different because

Cliff Duvernois:

the crop, is not always the same.

Cliff Duvernois:

And one variety might yield a little bit more than another, or we might

Cliff Duvernois:

choose to pick a little bit more of this or that just based on what's

Cliff Duvernois:

available, to go into the wine.

Cliff Duvernois:

But it is comprised, of a Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Blanc and

Cliff Duvernois:

Pinot Gris, those percentages vary.

Cliff Duvernois:

It's an off, dry, very crisp, food friendly wine.

Cliff Duvernois:

And the, the, the, the real cool factor about this wine mixtape is it crosses,

Cliff Duvernois:

or unites the sweet and dry wine drinker.

Cliff Duvernois:

it's not too sweet for the dry wine drinker.

Cliff Duvernois:

It's not too dry for the sweet drinker.

Cliff Duvernois:

It's a nice in between.

Cliff Duvernois:

It's a nice in between.

Cliff Duvernois:

And it really pairs well with a lot of ethnic foods.

Cliff Duvernois:

For example, asian foods like, sushi or Thai food, Ethiopian food,

Cliff Duvernois:

ethnic foods, also like, uh, middle eastern food or even Mediterranean.

Cliff Duvernois:

So something with a little heat is very nice with mix tape.

Cliff Duvernois:

Because again, it has a little residual sugar, but it's very crisp and refreshing

Cliff Duvernois:

and it's an awesome summer option too.

Cliff Duvernois:

It's the first wine we pour for folks.

Cliff Duvernois:

We pour this wine, typically we pour this wine as our complimentary

Cliff Duvernois:

pour to introduce them to, bigLittle and to talk about sweetness levels.

Cliff Duvernois:

And, it's just a good introduction to the brand and to, white wine.

Cliff Duvernois:

Now, before you talk about the memories that each

Cliff Duvernois:

one of these wines like Invoke.

Cliff Duvernois:

So I guess my question for you then would be, for this particular one,

Cliff Duvernois:

when you were putting it together, what made you think of mixed tape?

Cliff Duvernois:

Or did you write down the memory first and then say, okay, maybe the next bottle

Cliff Duvernois:

we'll make, we'll call it mix tape.

Cliff Duvernois:

How does that naming process go?

Cliff Duvernois:

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines: we like blends.

Cliff Duvernois:

Not all of our wines are blends by any means, but Oh but we like

Cliff Duvernois:

blends so mix tape by nature of that compound word or whatever.

Cliff Duvernois:

it means, it, it means a blend, a mishmash, a combination of

Cliff Duvernois:

different flavors and, and textures.

Cliff Duvernois:

So, you know, the idea of a mix mixtape makes, yeah.

Cliff Duvernois:

It makes one think of a blend and that's what this is.

Cliff Duvernois:

And so it works.

Cliff Duvernois:

we, we were, we look at the fruit we want to plant.

Cliff Duvernois:

And then we look at the wines we wanna make.

Cliff Duvernois:

And then we look at sales and we say, okay, all those things factor

Cliff Duvernois:

into what we produce, right?

Cliff Duvernois:

So this wine is a product of .. Four varieties that grow

Cliff Duvernois:

really well in northern Michigan.

Cliff Duvernois:

And, work we think, pretty harmoniously as a blend.

Cliff Duvernois:

a lot of Alsatian wineries called this style of wine,

Cliff Duvernois:

Edelzwicker, which essentially is, a blend of sation varieties.

Cliff Duvernois:

You know, if you go to Alsace, and you eat the food and you taste the wines.

Cliff Duvernois:

they work really well together.

Cliff Duvernois:

There's a lot of rich foods, like a lot of heavy foods, very German

Cliff Duvernois:

influenced because it's on the border.

Cliff Duvernois:

So these crisp, acid driven Alsacian varieties aromatic whites, work with that

Cliff Duvernois:

style of food and we can grow them here.

Cliff Duvernois:

and the blend.

Cliff Duvernois:

The blend works and it, again, it changes.

Cliff Duvernois:

But if you go to Alsace, you'll see Edelzwicker style

Cliff Duvernois:

blends all over the place.

Cliff Duvernois:

Most producers have one,

Cliff Duvernois:

at least one Edelzwicker right?

Cliff Duvernois:

Excellent.

Cliff Duvernois:

So this is delicious.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

Thank you.

Cliff Duvernois:

I'm thoroughly enjoying it.

Cliff Duvernois:

So I guess my next question would be is, 'cause we're talking about a blend, right?

Cliff Duvernois:

You're bringing all these different grapes together, mixed tape.

Cliff Duvernois:

So my, then my question to you is that when you do this, obviously it's not.

Cliff Duvernois:

let's do 25% of this one, 25%.

Cliff Duvernois:

it's, could be a mix, it could be 70% with 30% or maybe, not even,

Cliff Duvernois:

not that 70% with 20%, 5% something.

Cliff Duvernois:

Yeah.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

Yeah.

Cliff Duvernois:

do you find that right balance?

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

So it's predominantly Riesling, so it

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

has to stay that way, otherwise it loses its essence in my opinion.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

So it's predominantly Riesling.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

And then we like predominantly, what I mean is 50% and then we layer in different

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

percentages of those other varieties, Pinot blanc, pinot gris, gewurztraminer.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

sometimes the deer eat a lot of T's demeanor and we don't have a lot, so

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

we'll have less in the blend sometimes.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

we use gewurztraminer for another wine called Tire Swing.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

And sometimes we have to dip further into that block to, to get more of that.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

Sometimes we don't make C-3 Pinot, which uses Pinot Blanc.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

So we have more Pinot Blanc.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

It's just a matter of, again, Producing wines based on sales numbers, based

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

on what's working, what's, what's not.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

And moving great varieties around between different programs.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

But also trying to create wines that are consistent in style year after year.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

So there's constraints, but there's also freedom of, um, creativity as

Cliff Duvernois:

certainly

Cliff Duvernois:

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines: within those confines.

Cliff Duvernois:

one of the things that you mentioned before is you

Cliff Duvernois:

talked about, you talked about how the grapes taste different year to year.

Cliff Duvernois:

You just mentioned probably about a minute ago that you know if the

Cliff Duvernois:

deer eat a lot of this grape.dot, so there's a lot of external

Cliff Duvernois:

influences that impact to the grape.

Cliff Duvernois:

So your 21 might not taste the same as the 22.

Cliff Duvernois:

Which is gonna taste completely different than the 20.

Cliff Duvernois:

So talk.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

Yeah.

Cliff Duvernois:

So talk to us about those environmental impacts on the

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

hopefully not completely different because

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

there, there are some threads of, consistency that we're looking for.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

For example, in this wine, I'm getting a little white pepper grapefruit.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

that's that's mixed tape.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

Like we can, adjust that subtly.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

but that's the core of the flavor right.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

That we're looking for.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

s, but yeah, like a cool vintage, like 18 or 19 will result in

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

higher acidity in the fruit.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

Because as fruit ripens with heat, sugar accumulates and acidity diminishes.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

if we don't get heat, we have more acidity in the fruit, which

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

means typically that we'll need to balance with more residual sugar.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

If we have a hot year, acidity diminishes, we may be able to

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

make mixtape in a dryer style.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

Because there's not the need to balance with as much residual sugar.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

So yeah.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

those are the decisions when it comes to this wine, that we're thinking

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

about on any particular year,

Cliff Duvernois:

And so Mixed Tape is one that you would recommend, if you took this

Cliff Duvernois:

to a party, this would have mass appeal.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

It would, because again, it crosses, it bridges the

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

gap between sweet and dry wine drinkers.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

The, the, the real beauty of this also is when you start pairing it

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

with, like I mentioned, foods that might have a little bit of heat.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

But a lot of flavor and, some good richness.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

this can hold up to some fat fattier foods, like what?

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

I don't know, like pork belly tacos or something, something like that.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

Or, spicy tuna, spicy tuna roll or, you know, things like that.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

So it's a crowd pleaser.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

It's refreshing, it's crisp and it pairs well with food.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

So this is what I'm looking for in a, an off dry white wine for sure.

Cliff Duvernois:

Now, is this something that you only have here at bigLittle,

Cliff Duvernois:

or have, is it available in stores?

Cliff Duvernois:

People can go get it.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

This is available across the state of

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

Michigan in, select retailers.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

But if you, for example, the consumer needs to know this.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

if there's a wine that you're looking for and you can't find it

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

on a store shelf, of your local retailer, you can always ask them.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

You can always say, look, I was up north, or I've had this wine before,

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

or You've even carried this wine before, and I'm interested in it.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

they'll find us.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

they know who to contact to get our wines.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

We're well distributed in Michigan.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

But sometimes you gotta ask.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

Sometimes you have to ask for things that you

Cliff Duvernois:

Certainly

Cliff Duvernois:

yes,

Cliff Duvernois:

You're not gonna get it unless you ask.

Cliff Duvernois:

'cause there are a lot of wine shops.

Cliff Duvernois:

Throughout Michigan that carry a pretty good balance between Michigan

Cliff Duvernois:

wines versus, I'll say national wines versus even international

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

Sure, yeah.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

They're all over the place and, those are the, I don't know, those are the,

Cliff Duvernois:

So anyways, yeah, it's great to have that just simply because of

Cliff Duvernois:

the fact that you can go into the store, support local and know that you are going

Cliff Duvernois:

to be, you're gonna pick up a bottle that's going to, like you said, appeal.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

Yeah.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

Masks.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

we don't rely just on tasting room sales.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

We rely on the support of

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

independent retailers and wholesalers across the state and, and, they're

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

great resources for the pro, the promoting of Michigan products.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

And, we thank them for that.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

yeah, our wines are available across the state.

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines:

If you can't find it, ask for it.

Cliff Duvernois:

Nice.

Cliff Duvernois:

One of the questions that I would like to, as we get to the end of the interview

Cliff Duvernois:

here, one of the questions that I would like to ask you is that this whole thing

Cliff Duvernois:

started because your dad gave up his job in manufacturing to come up here.

Cliff Duvernois:

'cause he really wanted to pursue being in the wine business.

Cliff Duvernois:

So what does he say that you and your brother have started your own vineyard?

Cliff Duvernois:

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines: he's pretty soft spoken.

Cliff Duvernois:

I think he's proud of us.

Cliff Duvernois:

I know he is.

Cliff Duvernois:

But he, he's just, he's sort of old school in that way that, he doesn't,

Cliff Duvernois:

um, he doesn't always express emotions, express his emotion super, super clearly.

Cliff Duvernois:

But, we know that he is proud of us and what we're doing and what we're

Cliff Duvernois:

doing with the fruit that he has grown.

Cliff Duvernois:

We take a lot of pride in the quality of our products.

Cliff Duvernois:

And we take a lot of pride in our work ethic.

Cliff Duvernois:

And that was obviously a result of how we were raised, by both our mom and our dad.

Cliff Duvernois:

And, and, We'll probably have a wine very soon.

Cliff Duvernois:

We don't have anything in the works per se, but.

Cliff Duvernois:

A dedication to, the people that made this possible for us, our

Cliff Duvernois:

parents, and, our grandparents for, exploring Northern Michigan.

Cliff Duvernois:

Creating, creating an opportunity for us to visit as kids and,

Cliff Duvernois:

really fall in love with the area.

Cliff Duvernois:

and, then, work together as a family to, to create something

Cliff Duvernois:

cool and fun and, yeah.

Cliff Duvernois:

it's just, it's cool.

Cliff Duvernois:

it's a, it's an opportunity that a very small percentage of the population

Cliff Duvernois:

are gonna have an opportunity to do.

Cliff Duvernois:

So as I sit here and reflect on that, you know, I'm lucky.

Cliff Duvernois:

A very lucky, obviously.

Cliff Duvernois:

and the real like beauty of making wine and growing grapes and making

Cliff Duvernois:

wine is sharing it with people.

Cliff Duvernois:

It's a social, beverage.

Cliff Duvernois:

It's a beverage that really shines when paired with the right foods.

Cliff Duvernois:

And, these are stories that we try to tell in our tasting room and things that

Cliff Duvernois:

we hope unite people with bigLittle.

Cliff Duvernois:

Certainly.

Cliff Duvernois:

Speaking of uniting with bigLittle, if somebody is listening to this

Cliff Duvernois:

interview and they wanna connect with you, they wanna find out what

Cliff Duvernois:

bigLittle's going on, maybe they wanna stop by your tasting room, what's

Cliff Duvernois:

the best way for them to do that?

Cliff Duvernois:

Mike Laing, bigLittle Wines: bigLittle wines.com is, those are

Cliff Duvernois:

the coordinates for our website.

Cliff Duvernois:

And we're located in Suttons Bay, five miles south of Sutton's Bay.

Cliff Duvernois:

two thirds of the way from Traverse City to Sutton's Bay.

Cliff Duvernois:

So that's where our taste room's located.

Cliff Duvernois:

But yeah, bigLittle wines.com.

Cliff Duvernois:

And again, if you can't find our wines on a store shelf, ask

Cliff Duvernois:

the retailer, to bring it in.

Cliff Duvernois:

And, thank you for your support.

Cliff Duvernois:

And for our audience, you can always roll

Cliff Duvernois:

on over to total michigan.com.

Cliff Duvernois:

Click on Mike's interview and find the links that he mentioned up above.

Cliff Duvernois:

Again, bigLittle wines mixed taped.

Cliff Duvernois:

Definitely check it out.

Cliff Duvernois:

We'll see you again next week when we talk to another Michigander, doing

Cliff Duvernois:

some pretty extraordinary things.

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