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CLOSING YOUR EYES YOU CAN HEAR THE GULLS KEOWING calmly as the sun sizzles over the horizon of Lake Michigan. You gaze on as it slowly transforms the sky into iridescent shades of soft violet hues. spicy florals of the region invade your senses. You didn’t have to travel far this weekend to get to this spot right here—and you are glad you made the call. Inhaling deeply from your wide brimmed glass of Traminette, spicy florals of the region invade your senses. You didn’t have to travel far this weekend to get to this spot right here—and you are glad you made the call.
Michigan is abounding with wine trails throughout the state, and there’s enough fun to fill every weekend. The southwestern part of the MI (near the border), and along the shores of Lake Michigan, is home to over 20 different wineries in the area. Once you’re in, you needn’t travel too far to have a good time.
When flying into Michigan, you have a variety of choices for airports. Just keep in mind that some of these routes are a little more affordable than others.
• Main Airport: The Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport is a three-hour drive west, but it is the closest main airport in Michigan (in case you were doing other sightseeing in the state).
• Closest – cheap: The airport that requires the least amount of travel time would be out-of-state in Indiana. The South Bend International Airport is only a 30-minute drive south from your weekend wine trail.
• Closest – VIP: The Southwest Michigan Regional Airport is located right in the middle of wine country. It may not be for everyone’s budget, so call ahead when planning your flights.
Michigan is cradled by the great lakes, but this wine trail is on the border. When you are driving in, there are only a few main roads to get there from the rest of the country. Once you are in-state, it’s pretty simple to get to your wine trail starting point.
• I-90 West from Toledo, Ohio
• I-69 North from Fort Wayne, Indiana
• I-94 North from Gary, Indiana
Michigan is about sunsets, good wine, and good times. The southwestern part of the state
(along the shores of Lake Michigan) is topped with fertile soil that provides the perfect
nourishment for vineyards. As your wine trail adventure begins, you’ll soon discover why
Michigan is where it’s at when it comes to wine.
Grand Mere State Park
Before you get too far down the tasting rabbit hole, check out Grand Mere State Park for some keen photo ops. The park runs a mile along the shoreline and is known for its rolling sand dunes and in-shore lakes. It’s also super close to where you check-in for the first night of your trip.
Waverland Beach Bed & Breakfast
A quaint accommodation, Waverland B&B literally has it’s own road right on the water (with no one else around). The B&B also plays host to a private beach, hot tub, sauna, and everything else you need to encourage your wino ways. Throw your bags on the bed and head over to your first winery.
Gravity Vineyards and Winery
Family-owned and operated, Gravity Winery’s claim is that they “do things a little differently.” Their 2,000 square foot tasting room is open every day (the schedule varies by season) where they offer their signature flight pairing. You select 4 glasses of wine which are then paired perfectly with palate pleasing samples (say that 5 times fast).
Their outdoor patio accommodates over 40 people and there is also seating on a large wooden deck overlooking the bay. During your visit, go for a taste of the Peaceful White, a crisp Chardonnay substitute, or their Peach Paradise—part of an exotic line of fruit wines.
Tabor Hill Winery & Restaurant
Why not kill two birds with one stone? The next stop on your tour is the ideal place to sample local wines while enjoying an incredible dinner. The vaulted dining space serves up regional fare like the Lake Superior Walleye stuffed with spinach and roasted beets. For wines, order the Tabor Hill Pinot Gris, a light-bodied white, or the Tabor Hill Dry Traminette, bursting with intense florals.
Howard Performing Arts Center
If you are itching to catch some entertainment in the area, the Howard Performing Arts Center at Andrew’s University has a packed calendar year round of shows put on by performing artists, students, and the local community. Shows include events like “Vienna Boys Choir,” “Wind Symphony Vespers,” and the “Lake Michigan Orchestra.” Ticket prices range from $15-$30 depending on the event.
Grab breakfast at Waverland (their home cooking is delish) and head out on the next leg of your Michigan wine country tour. First stop: Dablon.
Dablon Vineyards & Winery
Producing some of the best grown and bottled wines in the region, the 44-acre vineyard was established in 2009 with 4-acres of Chardonnay and 4-acres of Pinot Noir. Since then, the winery has expanded rapidly. The tasting room at Dablon features an arcing granite bar, fireplace, and patio overlooking their rolling vineyards.
Samples start at $12 for 6 wines and the tasting room is open 7 days a week. If you are going to grab a bottle for the road, try the 2013 Dablon Pinot Noir with spicy hints of cherry, or their 2014 Music Box Sweet Seyval Blanc, with sweet honey and citrus.
Domaine Berrien Cellars
Just down the street is another local winery known as Domaine Berrien. Priding themselves on their dry reds and Rhone varietals, they are the first winery in Michigan to grow and vinify Syrah. The winery is on the smaller side, but their tasting room is open every day from 12 p.m.- 5 p.m.
The tasting fee is $10 per person and includes a souvenir glass. They currently grow 21 different varieties of grapes, so the sky is the limit on their custom crafted vintages.
Lemon Creek Winery
Right around the corner from Domaine Berrien (all of these wineries are within a few miles of each other) lies Lemon Creek Winery. The family-owned winery was established by the Lemon ancestors in 1855 and remains successful to this day.
With over 31 years of winemaking, the winery has earned hundreds of awards over the years with their impressive collection of red, white, and specialty wines. Their tasting room is open 7 days a week and features different prices on tastings (starting at $8 for 5 standard wines). The tasting room also houses special events, pick your own fruit, and live winemaking sessions.
For take-homes and wines by the bottle, try their 2013 Riesling with notes of crisp apple, or the 2013 Merlot Reserve with subtle barrel toast aromas.
Four Winds Casino
Just because you are in wine country, it doesn’t mean you can’t get down with a little gambling. After a long day on the wine trail, what better way to unwind than to throw the dice on some tables, catch a show, order room service, and top the night off with a hot-stone massage? The casino also has several places to dine and a shopping promenade (if you still have any shred of energy left).
You know you’ve had fun when you’re dead on Sunday. Use this day to recover and explore before you head back to your normal life.
Head down Whitaker Street for the best shopping in the area. From surf stores to posh art galleries, you are sure to find something as a souvenir. The street ends at New Buffalo Beach and Marina. Have lunch at the Terrace Room while the boats laze easily on the water. A hidden gem on the New Buffalo waterfront, the restaurant features rustic Italian fare paired perfectly with—of course—local wines. Try the Grilled Branzino with roasted cauliflower, or the Skuna Bay Salmon with sautéed escarole.
The greatest thing about Michigan wine trails is that they are the best-kept secret in the country. There wouldn’t be 20 or so wineries popping up in one place if it wasn’t prime pickins. Forget about Sonoma, who cares about Napa Valley, Southwestern Michigan has everything you need to whisk yourself away for a weekend of good food, amazing scenes, and of course, incredible wine!
Gravity Vineyards and Winery:10220 Lauer Rd, Baroda, MI 49101 | (269) 471-9463 12
Corners Vineyards: 1201 N Benton Center Rd, Benton Harbor, MI 49022 | (269) 927-1512
Dablon Vineyards & Winery: 111 W Shawnee Rd, Baroda, MI 49101 | (269) 422-2846
Lemon Creek Winery: 533 E Lemon Creek Rd, Berrien Springs, MI 49103 | (269) 471-1321
Karma Vista Vineyards and Winery: 6991 Ryno Rd, Coloma, MI 49038 | (269) 468-9463
Hickory Creek Winery: 750 Browntown Rd, Buchanan, MI 49107 | (269) 422-1100
Domaine Berrien Cellars: 398 E Lemon Creek Rd, Berrien Springs, MI 49103 | (269) 473-9463
Places to Eat
Tabor Hill Winery & Restaurant: 185 Mt Tabor Rd, Buchanan, MI 49107 | (269) 422-1161
Lake Street Eats: 4228 Lake St, Bridgman, MI 49106 | (269) 465-3287
D’Agostino’s Italian Restaurant and The Navajo Lounge: 8970 Red Arrow Hwy, Bridgman, MI 49106 (269) 465-3434 221
Main: 221 Main St, St Joseph, MI 49085 | (269) 982-4000
Copper Rock Steakhouse: 11111 Wilson Road, New Buffalo, MI 49117 | (866) 494-6371
Frankie’s Other Place: 16036 Red Arrow Hwy, Union Pier, MI 49129 | (269) 469-9865
Santaniello’s Glenlord Restaurant: 2262 W Glenlord Rd, Stevensville, MI 49127 | (269) 429-3966
Full Circle Café & Espresso Bar: 5729 St Joseph Ave, Stevensville, MI 49127 | (269) 429-8696
Grande Mere Inn: 5800 Red Arrow Highway, Stevensville, MI 49127 | (269) 429-3591
Places to Stay
Waverland Beach Bed & Breakfast: 7022 Waverland Path, Stevensville, MI 49127 | (269) 465-5777
Dove Nest Bed and Breakfast: 5000 Scottsdale Rd, St Joseph, MI 49085 | (269) 429-2211
The Painted Turtle Inn: 3205 Lakeshore Dr, St Joseph, MI 49085 | (269) 982-9463
South Cliff Inn: 1900 Lakeshore Dr, St Joseph, MI 49085 | (269) 983-4881
Rabbit Run Inn: 6227 Elm Dr, Sawyer, MI 49125 | (269) 405-1050
Duncan House Bed and Breakfast: 1117 State St, St Joseph, MI 49085 | (269) 930-9698
The Boulevard Inn & Bistro: 521 Lake Blvd, St Joseph, MI 49085 | (269) 983-6600
The Heritage Museum & Cultural Center: 601 Main St, St Joseph, MI 49085 | (269) 983-1191
Weko Beach: Stevensville, MI 49127
Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve: 13988 Range Line Road, Niles, MI 49120 | (269) 695-6491
Revive Spa: 313 Main St, St Joseph, MI 49085 | (269) 982-3800
Lana’s Boutique: 400 State St, St Joseph, MI 49085 | (269) 983-8777
Four Winds Casino: 11111 Wilson Rd., New Buffalo, MI 49117 | (866) 494-6370