California’s Napa and Sonoma wine country deservedly receives national and international attention. However, the United States has more noteworthy wine-producing regions, including one off the southeastern shore of Lake Michigan.
The Lake Michigan Shore Wine Country enjoys a moderate climate, free from extreme heat and cold, which bears similarities to that of several known European wine areas. The trail includes 13 wineries, some located near the Indiana-Michigan border, others stretching north along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan and northeast towards the city of Kalamazoo (see map below).
The region’s proximity to Chicago (about 1.5 hrs away) makes it an easy weekend or day trip. It is well-worth a visit for its award-winning wines and a laid-back vibe.
Here are five recommended wineries, all in the southwestern corner of Michigan.
Lemon Creek Winery & Fruit Farm
533 E. Lemon Creek Rd.
Berrien Springs, MI 49103
Phone: (269) 471-1321
Located on a 300-acre farm, Lemon Creek specializes in both grape and fruit growing. There are close to 30 wines on the menu, including Cabernet Sauvignon (the Lemon family were the first winemakers in the state to commercially plant the grape varietal) and the recent addition, Cabernet Sauvignon Ice Wine. A souvenir glass is included in the price of a wine flight.
Jetting Around’s choice: Grands Lacs Blanc
Domaine Berrien Cellars
398 East Lemon Creek Rd.
Berrien Springs, Michigan 49103
Phone:(269) 473-WINE (9463)
A short walk from Lemon Creek, the winery is surrounded by an 80-acre farm and has been certified by the state for implementing environmentally-sound practices. In summertime, an outdoor sitting area is open and visitors can enjoy it over wine and locally-produced delicacies. Domaine Berrien grows over 20 grape types and is known for Rhone varietals (e.g. Viognier, Marsanne).
Jetting Around’s choice: 2010 Marsanne
10220 Lauer Rd.
Baroda, MI 49101
Established in 2011, the small-batch Gravity is a new addition to the wine country. The tasting room is located on a hill overlooking the vineyard and a lake, with seating both indoors and outdoors. Each wine in a flight comes with cheese or chocolate. When visiting the winery, you may be greeted by a friendly dog named Oliver.
Jetting Around’s choice: Pinot Gris
Tabor Hill Winery & Restaurant
185 Mount Tabor Rd.
Buchanan MI 49107
The large winery was founded in 1968 and has received many awards for its wines. It was the first one to grow the European venifera grape in the American Midwest. Besides wine tastings, Tabor Hill offers guided tours of the vineyard and production facilities. A chocolate boutique and restaurant with views of the surrounding hills are also found on site.
Jetting Around’s choice: Vintage 2010 Chardonel
Round Barn Winery
10983 Hills Rd.
Baroda, MI 49101
Phone: (800) 716-WINE (9463)
In addition to wine, Round Barn produces microbrews and spirits (there are separate tasting rooms for wine and beer) and is known for its DiVine vodka made from grapes. The barn from which the winery takes its name dates back to 1911 and was moved from Indiana to the current location.
Jetting Around’s choice: Vineyard Tears