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, fruit wines, full-bodied beers, and a grape-based spirit, the Round Barn is as well-rounded as the Amish barn that anchors the 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, Distillery & Brewery produces red, white, fruit, dessert and sparkling wines, microbrews, and traditional rum, bourbon, and grape-based vodka bearing the DiVine logo. The Moersch family invites visitors to tour the barn and sample the potent potions, with wine tastings taking place in the Round Barn and beer available in the post-and-beam barn. Just a few miles down the road, Round Barn's new Brewery & Public House offers 20 taps of their unique beers, wines, and hand-crafted DiVine cocktails, as well as beer and wine flights and a full menu that highlights locally-sourced ingredients.
Spring Creek Equestrian Center doesn't know if every kid really wants a pony, but kids who do can come here. At the center's camps and birthday parties, kids can learn to ride horses in a relaxed farm environment. The center's team also hosts horse shows that give participants a chance to strut their stuff for competition and offers horseback-riding lessons for students of all ages.
The friendly staff at Hacker's Golf and Games occupies thrill-seeking sportsters by unfurling an 18-hole miniature golf course, a paved go-kart track, and other entertainment options. Smack 40 dimpled spheres into orbit from the natural-grass driving range ($5), or scale back club velocity while navigating around the mini golf course's lazy river (up to $6). Satisfy the need for speed and stylishly windswept hair during five-minute races around the go-kart boulevard ($6.50), or fine-tune your swing in the batting-cage areas that feature two slow-pitch softball stations and five baseball stations ($10 for 180 pitches).
Comedy. Drama. Romance. All these emotions across the silver screen at Wonderland Cinema like a flipbook, but way, way better. Wonderland?part of the Moore Theatres family?digitally projects first-run movies (including 3D features) as well as special programs and kid-friendly screenings. And the concession stand serves up all the candy, drinks, and popcorn that make going to the movies such a popular alternative to begging the beadle for more gruel. On Thursdays, the theater offers free popcorn refills of our $3.00 returnable popcorn bucket.