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.
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.
Fueled by the passion of winemaker and obsessive-compulsive grape-stomper Lisa Berry, Vintner's Cellar offers several wines fermented in Royal Oak. During your tasting, you'll get to sample five different wines from a diverse range of red, white, fruit, and specialty libations. You'll also get to snack on cheese, crackers, grapes, and crackery grapecheese creations while soaking in the lively décor of intermingling dark and vivid tones like a sponge tuxedo. The wine tasting is good for two people, so buddy up or carefully wheel a frenemy's bed to the cellar before he or she wakes up.
The Kunhenn brothers spend every day of the week brewing and overseeing the production of beers at Kuhnhenn Brewing. That kind of dedication is what makes the brewery a well-deserving recipient of numerous brewing awards. In 2012, the highly sought-after DRIPA?or Double Rice IPA?took home a gold medal at the World Beer Cup, and the insanely popular Raspberry Eisbock has consistently been one of the highest-rated beers in the world since its release in 2004. Inside the brewery's lively tasting room, visitors can sip on flights to sample a variety of beers, or order larger glasses or pints of their favorite brew.
Founded by Traverse City natives Sam Porter and Abby Walton Porter, Porterhouse Productions operates several festivals and special events in the northern Michigan region. The company has run the annual Microbrew & Music Festival, an Evening with Mario Batali, and other recreational events, from concerts to culinary events.