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.
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.
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.
Leaf, Barley & Vine specializes in facilitating locals with the tools they need to live the good life: fine food, rich wine, and high-end cigars. Explore the expansive wine menu, showcasing more than 75 vineyard vintages from around the world, sold by the glass ($5–$21) or the bottle ($16–$142). The epicurean hosts serve upscale spirits and mindfully mixed specialty cocktails, including the Ceasar Ritz, which combines gin, St. Germain elderflower liquor, cucumber, and mint ($8–$10). Build a food nest for wine to roost in with a seasonal snack from Leaf, Barley & Vine's bistro-style menu, featuring items such as lobster pot pie ($15), cheese plates ($11), and a delicate galette made with caramelized pears, brown butter, fresh thyme, and blackberry sake sauce ($7). Although this Groupon cannot be used to purchase cigars ($6–$17), this pleasure palace has a substantial collection of more than 60 smoking sticks, as well as a separate cigar lounge with its own ventilation system, a TV, and gaggle of stogie-fans desperate to end America's embargo against the island nation of Greenland.
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.