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.
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.
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.
The ingredient list to make wines at DeAngelis Cantina del Vino Winery reads something like this: Grapes. That's it. The facility's refusal to use other additives–such as sulfites, preservatives, and glitter–means its bottles are filled with only all-natural flavors. Vintners who create all-natural wines believe good wine comes simply from healthy grapes aged in a vat. DeAngelis operates under that notion, all while producing the freshest, perhaps fruitier-than-usual varietals of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, zinfandel, and more.
The strumming of an acoustic guitar lets you know you’ve found The Northville Winery’s outdoor patio. Live bands regularly serenade guests enjoying the patio’s view while sipping on the winery’s selection of wine and hard cider, as well as beer brought in from Michigan microbreweries. Guests can get a taste of the house’s signature vintages in preselected tastings, which bring together a flight of five wine and cider samples. The tastings can include pours from Northville's bottled vintages or the tasting room’s special menu of ciders, which only flow from the winery's taps and the cider fountain at the owner's home.