Arbor Brewing Company serves organic pub fare that incorporates local farmers’ and growers’ fresh, seasonal meats and produce. The dinner menu showcases Lake Superior whitefish ($13) and the Ar-burger ($13), a 1/3 pound patty of beef from McLaughlin Farm, a local producer of grass-fed, hormone-free cattle. Vegetarians rejoice when served the beer-battered tempeh sandwich ($8) from the lunch menu. Night owls can nosh hearty bar fare from the late-night menu, such as pierogies ($8) or a half pound of chicken strips ($7).
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.
Lorenzo Lizarralde's two passions—winemaking and aeronautics—may seem unrelated, but they coexist in harmony at Chateau Aeronautique Winery. There, the winery shares its space with an airplane hangar and grass runway on which the vintner frequently lands his 1956 Cessna 172. Fermented from Michigan grapes, the chateau's handcrafted wines span the gamut, from dry to semisweet, wafting strawberry bouquets, apricot aromas, and floral notes.
To spotlight his elixirs, Lorenzo regularly hosts events amid his idyllic environs, which take inspiration from the wineries in Bordeaux, France. Guests traipse across the grounds en route to a gazebo or the hangar, where they can revel with up to 80 fellow sippers. For more intimate flavor exploration, they flock to a private tasting room, replete with an ornate, wooden bar that provides the coziness of a grandparent's wine cellar, but with more wine and fewer Clark Gable posters.
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 Lakes, 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.
The knowledgeable winemakers at Hops & Harvest delight in teaching customers how to transmute grapes in varietals such as chardonnay and pinot noir into nuanced wines. Hops & Harvest stocks the tools and resources that beginning and veteran home-brewers need to concoct fresh, delicious organic wines from the comforts of their homes as well as the hops and malts needed to bottle, keg, and barrel homemade brews. Live displays, samples, and classes keep the spacious store abuzz. Most wines and beers can be made indoors at any time of year, eliminating the final reason to leave the house during January.m]]
Master distiller Jon Dyer leaves nothing to chance, tasting every batch of vodka before it goes into bottling. With Ugly Dog Distillery’s ever-expanding distribution market, he recognizes it’s a potentially daunting responsibility—but he wouldn’t want it any other way. Along with his partner Dewey Winkle, Jon follows in the tradition of early American moonshiners, distilling one potent, handcrafted batch at a time. Jon processes the Michigan winter wheat with his handmade grinder, transmuting the wheat into the slow, clear drops of the distillery’s near-final product through copper tubing into a large vat. Originally starting with vodka, Jon and the gang have expanded into rum and a unique brand of bacon-flavored vodka, with more flavors in the works. The small but thriving distillery sometimes works round the clock, with Jon juggling the duties of company accountant, salesman, marketer, dishwasher, and occasional graphic designer. Visitors can tour the bubbling copper workshop during the day, and share beauty tips with Ruger, the German wirehaired pointer who gave the company its name.
A car comes to life with a blanket of animatronic fish. An engineer pours a computer casing from liquid resin. Pedal-powered creations fly across a stretch of asphalt. Rather than let the processes of invention and tinkering stay confined to basements and workshops, the annual Fort Wayne Regional Maker Faire, powered by TekVenture, thrusts them into Headwaters Park for a family-friendly outdoor event. Up to 100 "makers"—artists, scientists, and tinkerers who invent, experiment, and create—showcase their crafts through live demonstrations and hands-on interactive experiences. These displays cover the spectrum of technology, using materials ranging from wood and fabric to electronics. Beyond the exhibits, the annual event features engineering challenges, live sets from local musicians, and stunt-filled BMX demonstrations. Locally produced food is also available for purchase.