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.
The pedal pushers at Albrights Cycling & Fitness have been retailing and custom fitting a sporty selection of bicycles and bicycling accessories for 97 years. Store snacks, bags, and friendly extraterrestrials in a bike basket ($16–$55), or nab a baby seat, perfect for securely transporting tots or smaller, more fragile baby seats ($100+). Lights ($11–$130), helmets ($30–$130), and locks ($9–$65) are also on hand to help ensure a safe ride, and tire pumps will keep a sensitive cycle’s road donuts and their fragile egos from deflating midride ($30+).
Rockie Rick left behind the apples, peaches, and cherries of the farm he grew up on to pursue a business degree. But as he worked at different jobs, he realized that he missed working outside and yearned to be his own boss. Seeing southwest Michigan’s wine industry flourish, he bought land and began growing grapes to sell to a winery. Next, he organized bus tours of area wineries, the success of which enabled Rockie to buy more land for a total of 30 acres. In 2011, he and his staff began making wine from their own grapes, crafting the small batches in oak barrels and stainless-steel tanks.
Rockie’s independent streak flourishes at Gravity Winery, from the modern indoor seating area with deep blues, crisp whites, and an industrial steel bar to a wine named after Rockie’s dog, Oliver, who’s known for greeting guests. “We tried to break the mold of what people think of when they go to a winery,” he says. “We figured … let’s be really different.”
Rockie’s favorite wine is an “awesome peppery cabernet France” called The Theory, which sports an image of Sir Isaac Newton on the bottle. During wine flights—Gravity Vineyard’s version of a tasting and the best way for guests to sample a variety of glasses—he pairs it with dark chocolate laden with almonds and sea salt that is made locally by Vineyards Gourmet. The flights feature four wines paired with cheese or chocolate, and guests can savor their chosen flavors inside or on the patios for hilltop views of the nearby lake or vineyard.
Though the knowledgeable staff can expertly pair each wine and easily converse with the staunchest of wine-lovers, Rockie and his staff eschew snobbery. “If you want to drink a big bowl of red cabernet with your fish, great. If that’s what you enjoy, that’s what you should do,” he says. “We don’t want anyone to be intimidated because they like a certain wine over another, or they don’t know the right word to describe it.”:m]]
Producing wines, full-bodied beers, and grape-based spirits, the Moersch family is as well-rounded as the Amish barn that anchors their 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 and Distillery & Public House produces red, white, dessert and sparkling wines, eight different brews, and traditional grain-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.
In more than 100 locations around the country, ThrillZown's staff facilitates adrenaline-filled excursions full of extreme water, air, and land adventures. Under the supervision of experts, brave souls defy gravity as they skydive, hang-glide, bungee jump, or play films of apples falling off trees in reverse. On land, crews harness the power of horses, stock cars, and snowmobiles; in the water, groups navigate whitewater rapids or explore aquatic depths as they scuba dive or surf.
Imagine holding a king salmon so heavy you can barely lift it for a picture, only to hear the captain yell a new fish just took another trolling rod down. The guides of Captain Hook's Charter Fishing venture into Lake Michigan for such trophies, taking anglers out for perch fishing, sport fishing, and salmon trolling. Operating one of the state's largest charter fleets, the captains can take up to 40 perch fishers on a climate-controlled party boat and accommodate smaller groups of 4–5 anglers on smaller crafts. A FAQ page preps guests before going out, covering topics such as how to get a fishing license and what pattern suit is customary fishing attire.
In 1939, Everett Cook purchased what would become the Cook family farm and was told it was the worst investment he had ever made. But in the spirit of tenacious American homesteaders, three generations of Cooks turned that bad investment into a thriving bison ranch. After years of research, Peter Cook—Everett’s grandson—became a member of the National Bison Association, and ordered the ranch's first 30 bison in 1998. The hulking, majestic curiosities began drawing in groups from area schools, cross-country motor-coach tours, and time-traveling harmonica players to the 83-acre farm in northern Indiana's Amish country.
During the ranch’s signature one-hour tour, guests board a wagon and venture out to interact with and feed the animals as guides regale them with facts about North American bison. After the tour, groups can also sit down for a meal of bison burgers or bison brats. The animals receive no growth hormones or stimulants and graze on the ranch's own hay and grain, which produces tender and healthy meat, unlike animals fed with growth hormones, which produces meat that won’t stop quoting Arnold Schwarzenegger movies. Bison burgers, brats, and steaks are available for purchase online or inside the ranch's gift shop. In addition to the tours, the ranch also allows guests to hunt their own game during guided hunts, taking home bison, deer, and wild turkey.