As a backup quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bruce Gradkowski often has his hands full training and running drills. Whenever he gets a chance, though, he heads back to Toledo?where he first made his name as starting QB for the Toledo Rockets?to visit the restaurant he opened at the edge of campus. Echoing Gradkowski's love of his adopted hometown, the menu overflows with dishes made with locally sourced ingredients, such as the salmon filet, praised by the Toldeo Blade for its "light coating of salty parmesan cheese crust ? cooked perfectly and served with a compound butter that added to the richness of the dish."
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.
When Colio Estate Winery opened in 1980, they were the first winery in the area to seek a license since prohibition was lifted. This is surprising, since these vineyards lie on the same latitude as famed wine regions in northern California and Tuscany, Italy, which indicates that the regions could have similar growing climates. The area also boasts lush, fertile soil and a growing season longer than most of Canada, making it a favorable place to ripen grapes.
Today, Colio Estate Winery produces more than 400,000 cases of wine per year, including big red wines and refreshing whites. Knowing collaboration is key in the winemaking process, winemaker Lawrence Buhler and vineyard manager Kevin Donohue work in tandem to produce high quality wines in varietals such as Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Guests at the winery can learn about their process on tours, wander the vineyard, or recline in the outdoor pavilion to enjoy glasses of wine in the open air.
Food and wine, Italian and French, fine dining and casual bar snacks?Luc? Nuovo is a place of complementary dualities. Dishes such as fresh-tomato bisque and creamy shrimp risotto are united by their locally farmed ingredients ingredients, and their ephemerality: because executive chef Mason Conway relies on the freshest produce, his menu changes with the seasons. (His staff do make mozzarella and pasta in-house all year long.) In the bar, surrounded by beer taps and wine bottles, diners peruse more streamlined snacks such as mortadella-stuffed stromboli and roasted portobello sliders topped with caramelized onion and arugula.
If you really want to drink in an oenophilic atmosphere, there's the option of booking a private dinner in the wine cellar. The bottles filling the ceiling-high wine-storage system have all been selected with an eye toward complementing the food, never overwhelming it, and menus offer many seasonal pairing suggestions. Elsewhere in the sprawling villa-style buiilding, a stone fireplace dominates the main room amid earthenware floor tiles, exposed ceiling beams, and rustic wooden half-walls. Outdoor seating fills up during the warmer months, although Luc? Nuovo draws crowds indoors on Thursday evenings for live jazz performances.
Nestled among 100 acres of lush vineyards that have blossomed for more than 25 years, Mastronardi Estate Winery cultivates 18 different kinds of grapes that resident winemaker Lyse Leblanc transforms into a prize-winning slate of wine varietals. Lakes Erie and St. Clair sandwich the region, naturally maintaining a suitable vine-harvesting climate that yields the building blocks of sweet dessert wines, crisp whites, bold merlot-cabernet amalgams, and sparkling varietals. Visitors tap into a rainbow of elegant elixirs during tours, tastings, and seminars, decamping to the winery's European-inspired tasting boutique, where a knowledgeable staffer points out oft-overlooked subtleties, such as the pinot grigio’s hints of honeydew and longing. Mastronardi Estate Winery donates a portion of proceeds from the floral-inspired Brianjë riesling to the Batten Disease Support and Research Association in memory of the daughter of owners Eadie and Tony Mastronardi.