After respective careers as a research scientist and an educator, Larry and Pam Satek were ready to settle into retirement. They anticipated relaxing on the plot of land purchased by Pam's great-grandfather in 1915—a verdant space that had matured from an apple orchard into an overgrown tangle, and which the Sateks turned into a commercial vineyard where other Indiana wineries bought their grapes. Now that they had escaped the daily grind, the Sateks' plan was to begin crafting their own wine. They did so with well-recognized aplomb, and soon, their "retirement business" was winning awards at the INDY International Wine Competition. In the past three years, almost 80% of their wines have medaled—the 2012 contest alone landed them 23 awards, including two Concordance Golds, which signify a unanimous decision by the judges. Their success is hardly surprising, though, if one looks at the descriptions of their wines. They deem their Old Vine red zinfandel "a searing of lightning and poetry," and liken the sweet Mango Mania to "sunshine in your glass."
The Sateks remain continually tapped into the community in an effort to share these wines, many of which are made from exclusively locally grown fruit. Their Twitter feed and Facebook page keep fans posted regarding new releases and suddenly sold-out varieties, and those hoping for a closer look can take a tour of the vineyard and bottling facilities. Additionally, special events such as dinners and pairing classes teach visitors how to expertly marry sips to bites without disappointing both of their families.
St. Julian is Michigan’s oldest, largest and most awarded winery. This family-owned winery, founded by Mariano Meconi in 1921, is nestled in the picturesque fruit-growing region along the southern shore of Lake Michigan. Today, grandson, David Braganini, has adopted the family tradition of wine making.
Producing wines, fruit wines, full-bodied beers, and a grape-based spirit, the Round Barn is as well-rounded as the Amish barn that anchors the winery. The striking structure wasn?t always the southwest Michigan property?s main landmark, however. Biology teacher?turned-winemaker Rick Moersch had been cultivating the land for five award-winning years when he came across the 1911 structure in Rochester, Indiana. Timber by timber, he and his crew dismantled the barn and moved it to Baroda by truck after realizing it wouldn?t fit in a plane?s overhead bin.
The round barn was a natural fit for the round copper-pot still where Moersch was beginning to distill European-style brandies from his grapes. After his sons Matthew and Christian returned from college, they helped further expand the winery?s scope. They launched a grape-based luxury vodka, DiVine, in 2006, and entered the beer brewing business the following year.
Today, Round Barn Winery, Distillery & Brewery produces red, white, fruit, dessert and sparkling wines, microbrews, and traditional rum, bourbon, and grape-based vodka bearing the DiVine logo. The Moersch family invites visitors to tour the barn and sample the potent potions, with wine tastings taking place in the Round Barn and beer available in the post-and-beam barn. Just a few miles down the road, Round Barn's new Brewery & Public House offers 20 taps of their unique beers, wines, and hand-crafted DiVine cocktails, as well as beer and wine flights and a full menu that highlights locally-sourced ingredients.
For more than 25 years, the Moersch family has grown, crushed, and fermented grapes into carefully cultivated small-batch wines. Today, Matthew, Christian, and Nicole Moersch preserve their family's legacy wines while exploring their own winemaking instincts. Using the bounty of vineyards located in Berrien Springs, they craft several red and white wines, bottling their own takes on dry reisling, dry gew?rztraminer, pinot meunier, cabernet franc, and table wines. They also produce spirits, such as brandy.
Though they're a long way from Europe, the winemakers at Hickory Creek Winery draw inspiration from the centuries-old spirit of crafting European-style wines. The locally grown grapes are crushed and pressed before making their way to steel tanks or French oak barrels, eventually emerging as semi-dry riesling, cabernet franc, or a zero-oak chardonnay?just to name a few of the wide variety of styles.
In 1997, Kip and Dennise Barber sold their suburban home. But it wasn't because they were downsizing or moving to the city. Instead, they used the money to purchase a large, wooded plot of land in Grass Lake, which they cleared and planted with rows of grapevines. And thus, Lone Oak Vineyard Estate was born. Over the years, the couple worked to add more and more varietals to the vineyard, and today, their estate is home to 12 types of grapes spanning 25 acres. Handpicked at the peak of ripeness, each of the European grapes is transformed into estate wines, such as dry reds, semidry whites, and utterly sarcastic dessert wines.