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, 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, Brewery & Distillery produces red, white, dessert and sparkling wines, eight different brews, and traditional grape-based vodka, rum, and bourbon bearing the DiVine logo. The Moersch family invites visitors to tour the facilities and sample the potent potions at their two tasting rooms, with wine tastings taking place in the Round Barn and beer tastings in the post-and-beam barn.
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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.
Though his own family has crafted wines for more than a hundred years, D'Avella Family Winery founder John D'Avella "specializes in making wines for people who don't typically enjoy wine," according to an interview for WNDU Channel 16. John transforms locally sourced grapes into more than 35 smooth, Italian-style wines, whose recipes he honed across 150 trial batches. The tasting room offers 1-ounce pours of these handmade vinos, which include blackberry sweet, concord dry, and Niagara semisweet varieties.
When Amo Scotese first arrived on American soil at the age of 18, he carried with him not only his suitcase but a lifetime of experience in traditional Italian cuisine. Shortly after that day, more than 76 years ago, the Naples native and his wife, Rose, opened La Cantina Ristorante Italiano to showcase their family’s time-honored Italian dishes. Determined to keep the aroma of those recipes in Paw Paw’s collective nostrils, Amo and Rose’s children continue running the kitchen to this day, captaining chefs as they fold housemade sauces into the authentic pastas, pizzas, and specialty dishes that have been honed over generations. The restaurant's renowned meatballs were described by a reporter from the Kalamazoo Gazette as “simple and soothing, redolent of fennel, just enough for an evening and left a slight tingling in the mouth from a scant touch of red pepper flakes—a token to remember.” Staff sommeliers, meanwhile, stand by to assist clients in pairing dishes with selections from the extensive wine list, which spotlights fine Italian and international varieties.
Servers roll vintage serving carts out into the energetic dining room, where hundreds of chianti bottles dangle from the ceiling. Amo and Rose’s wedding portraits gaze out over the red-checkered tablecloths to pay respect to the restaurant’s history, the family’s trailblazers, and the dark period in America before colors existed.