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Local winery offers jazz, food and wine

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On a cold, winter Sunday morning, nothing warms better than a piping hot cup of coffee.

Unless it is a glass of solstice sangria with chunks of fresh fruit. Or a glass of wine.

Drinks, an upscale food menu and the sounds of jazz are all part of the 2nd Sunday Jazz Brunch each month at Sandhill Crane Vineyards, 4724 Walz Road, Jackson.

“This is the whole package, jazz, food and wine. It’s a wonderful time,” said Andrea Morrison of Battle Creek who meets a friend, Susan Dryden of Heartland, at least once a month for the brunch. Jackson is a halfway point for them.

“I’d seriously move closer to Jackson just to come to all the great events the winery hosts,” said Dryden. “The food is fabulous and we stay all day talking, moderately drinking and knitting.”

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Yes, knitting. The women as well as Heather Price, a member of the family-owned winery, are all knitters. Morrison and Dryden met on an online knitting site, ravelry.com, and then met in person at a wine and wool festival the winery hosts twice a year, the last Saturday of January and the last Saturday of July. So the women bring their knitting to the winery and work on projects after they are finished eating.

Sandhill Crane has a café and a large room for receptions or parties, and Price came up with the brunch idea a little more than a year ago.

“I love brunches and I just wanted to see if the idea would go. We introduced it in November 2015 when things quieted down and it just took off,” said Price, wearing a red apron and working in the kitchen at the January brunch.

Each menu is different, often with seasonal themes. The February brunch, of course, will include romantic type foods and surely some chocolate items. March will be the time for tapping maple trees for the sap, so the menu will revolve around a maple festival.

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In January, Price offered two “starters,” seven entrees and three different desserts. She does this with the help of three assistants. Entrees always include a quiche (on this day artichoke and parmesan) and a couple Paninis (smoked trout; local harvest; or Nutella with fresh raspberries). Lately bowls have been popular, on this month a veggie quinoa breakfast bowl.

Brunch is served from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. when between 75 and 80 guests who can relax over their meal and drinks throughout the serving time. The only exception is Mother’s Day because they are so busy the tables are turned over at least once.

Price has a pool of about eight musicians from Jackson, Ann Arbor and even a pianist from Grand Rapids. In January the musician was Kevin Krieger, band director at the Middle School at Parkside, a saxophonist who plays for parties and gives music lessons.

In the large room with its huge windows overlooking the trees and rural setting, some Sundays it becomes a winter wonderland with thick flakes of snow; in warmer temperatures there are birds and greenery to enjoy.

“It’s nice to have something special for people to enjoy. We have a lot of regulars and semi-regulars,” said Price, saying people drive from Ohio and Indiana. When the brunch is over, guests like Morrison and Dryden move into the café area, which is open until 6 p.m.

“We truly enjoy ourselves,” said Morrison.

For more information visit www.sandhillcranevineyards.com or call 517-764-0679. Brunch reservations are highly recommended; the next one will be Feb. 12. Prices for entrees range from $8.95 to $14.95.

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