Equipped with an in-house brewing system, Old Hat Brewery churns out a medley of homegrown suds to pair with an extensive menu of hearty pub fare. Whistles receive a thorough wetting with a bevy of brews ($4–$5), such as the house-brewed alt ale, which glows with a ruby hue and creates a bitter balance of malt and hops; and the pub’s original gluten-free brew, a sudsy beverage that gives sippers with vendettas against whole grains the opportunity to quench thirsts. Old Hat Brewery fills in the nooks and crannies left in the stomach after a brew-dousing with noshables such as the prime-rib french dip sandwich, a mound of meat marinated in homemade stout and resting atop billowy bread ($6.99); or a half-pound burger cooked to order ($5.99). Burritos, nachos, and quesadillas satisfy southwestern appetites ($5.99–$7.99), and an array of hand-tossed dough disks come adorned with your choice of fixings or inspirational quotes penned in marinara sauce ($8.99–$12.99).
Granite City Food & Brewery, a casual family restaurant founded by a hospitality expert, boasts a beefed-up menu stuffed with more steak, seafood, pasta, flatbread pizza, burger, and sandwich options than Abe Lincoln had dollar bills stuffed in his top hat. Appetizers such as crab-artichoke quesadillas ($11.99) and crispy buffalo shrimp diving into shimmering blue-cheese pools ($11.99) take taste buds on a road trip across the culinary hot spots of America. A savory selection of steaks include the 14-ounce New York strip ($25.99), honey-rosemary filet mignon ($17.99), and a classic Angus top sirloin caught catnapping on a bed of golden onion strings ($22.09). Flatbread pizzas and nine pasta plates keep tongues from running off to Italy, and small plates such as the half-pound mediterranean chicken ($10.99) quell tiny hunger swells. The half-pound Napa Valley burger, dressed for the season in balsamic spring greens and topped with mozzarella and crispy prosciutto ($9.89), as well as 10 sandwiches pitch in to settle belly debts and prevent collection agencies from gathering on tongues.
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.
Nestled along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, Fenn Valley Vineyards & Wine Cellar capitalizes on the water's air-warming capabilities, growing tender grapes and crafting them into award-winning wines. Their 20th annual Wine Festival takes place on the winery's expansive lawn under a 4,000-square-foot tent pitched for the occasion. Revelers deepen the connection between their ears, noses, and throats with classic rock courtesy of The Trace, traditional Mexican fare and barbecue chicken and ribs, and a palate-wowing library of wines. Guests equipped with a souvenir glass can catch a ride on a People Hauler and move between three tasting stations set up throughout the vineyard, choosing between multiple small tastes or one full glass of a Fenn Valley oeno-explosion. Reds include the delicately fruity capriccio and the more robust merlot, while whites delight with an apple-kissed riesling and an ice wine sweeter than a pineapple Gummi Bear hitting a half-court buzzer beater.
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.
Wine-A-Palooza combines international wines with musical performance during a five-hour evening celebration. Attendees sample a selection of wines from around the world, testing their palate as they suss out the differences in each red and white. While sipping wines, they can also nibble on a variety of international dishes from the buffet. Live music fills the space with rhythms and harmonies, giving attendees a soundtrack to their wine tasting and purchasing experience.
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.