Wine Trip - Southwest Michigan - April 2, 2018

Hello again! and sorry about the delay, this previous week was super busy.  My wife and I took a trip to replenish our wine stash.  The wine racks were looking empty, so we decided to take a day trip to some of our favorite vineyards and wineries in southwest Michigan.  I planned it out ahead of time with some awesome birthday surprises for my wife along the way.  This is one good thing about living in the center of the state we are 2 hours from each coast and never too far from a great adventure.


Our journey Started at getting coffee at Starbucks in Okemos, then down I-96 to I-69 to I-94.  Once on I-94 we stopped at Sweetwater's Donut Mill for some of Michigan's best donuts.  Driving conditions were perfect, not a lot of traffic, blue skies and sunshine, alittle chilly, 34 in the morning, but not uncomfortably cold.

Our first stop was Karma Vista Vineyards & Winery just outside of Paw Paw in Coloma right off of I-94.  This is by far one of our favorite vineyards because the tasting room is in the center of the vineyard.  There are acres upon acres of grapevines and fruit trees in a 360 degree vantage point from the tasting room.  Their wine is outstanding too!  They have won various awards and with increasingly warmer and more dry summers the crops have been thriving.  However, this  year may see an impact because the spring has been so cold, the late start hasn't allowed ample growth and blooming that would normally be out now, but we'll see what the rest of the year brings.


At Karma Vista we sampled some new wine on the tasting menu.  A "Cotes de Loma" that is a similar blend to a "Cotes De Rhone" from France.  We also got to try different vintages of the Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Merlot.  The vintage years we got to try were 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.  I am a big fan of the vintage 2013 but I was impressed with the 2015 vintage.  One of my wife's favorite wine, the "Starry Starry White" was such a big hit we bought a case for our wedding party.  I've written a post about "Starry Starry White" and you can read more about that here.

One of the benefits of tasting during the off-season is that you usually have more time to talk with the winemakers.  Most of the time you will be talking with the owners of the winery.  We were fortunate enough to get to talk wine with the owners because I was curious about the different years and which ones produced more quality grapes than others.  We ended up buying some wine to drink right away and a few bottles to lay down for a while to see what aging would do for the quality of those wines.


Looking at the clock, we spent way too much time at the first place, but we still had all day ahead of us.  About 30 minutes down the road in a small town called Baroda, we stopped at Baroda Founder's Wine Cellar.  This is a very fun place with some of our favorites like "Cuvee Rosé" and "Oh Hell Yeah" red.  Their pretzels are a really good compliment to the wine tasting.  The same person was serving us who did back in September.  We left there with some new wine to try an award-winning wine as well.

My Wife, Bogey and I in front of the cut off Baroda Founder's Wine Cellar sign.  

Upon arrival we encountered a man named "Gouch" who claims to be the cousin of the owner.  He was very nice and took my wife and I's picture in front of the sign.  After tasting some wine he proceeded to offer us a spicy bourbon pickle.  At this point things seemed to get weird, however It actually turned out to be ok!  Anyway, with us not really knowing what to think of this guy, who probably is not actually related to the owner at all,we headed over to Lemon Creek Winery about 2 miles outside of Baroda.  Now we were in the middle of nowhere surrounded by vineyards and farmland.

Lemon Creek Winery is located down in a valley with a farmer's market on site, which is pretty cool too.  When you enter the ranch style building there is a big tasting bar.  We wanted to see what new wines they were releasing and if we could snatch up any of the remaining limited release bottles.  We found a "Malbec" which is unusual for Michigan.  The flavor of this Malbec was completely different from any Malbec I've tried before, but due to its limited availability we purchased a bottle, along with the "Peach Spumante" that is smooth, light and not too sweet.  We bought a few more bottles to get the 15% discount.  This winery is in a beautiful locale and right across the street and up the hill is Domaine Berrien Cellars, our next stop.

Domaine Berrien Cellars has lots of acreage full of vineyards.  We captured our dog playing in the vineyard.  They have a big patio for when the weather is nice.  At this point of the day the clouds were rolling in and the wind was picking up.  It was about 42 at this time.  Approaching the tasting table we noticed they were selling the entire wine barrel, empty of course so you can use it for whatever you come up with.  This was our first time to this winery and they had some unique whites and reds.  We got to learn about the history of this winery and learned how they tried to mimic Chateaus in France.  We bought a "Marsanné" which is almost like a "Blanc De Blanc" without the bubbles, very tasty.  We also bought a deep red wine that stains concrete called "Wolf's Prairie Red."  You'll see a post about this winery soon.

Our trip was going to lead us to the Warren Dunes State Park on the shore of Lake Michigan, but unfortunately we were running out of time and were getting pretty hungry.  We will be going to Warren Dunes State Park for the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Festival on June 16.  You'll learn more about that after we go and you can follow the link to read more in case you want to attend.

Marvin In the vineyard

We had to make it to St. Joseph in time for my wife's birthday surprise at Schu's Bar & Grill for our lunch/dinner.  It was a carrot cake with "Happy Birthday" written on it.  The food was amazing and they even gave my guide dog some raw turkey to gobble down.  He was really happy after that and the same went for my wife after such a fun and tasty surprise.  Now that our bellies were full it was time to taste wine at White Pine Winery.


White Pine Winery is one of my favorite stops in St. Joseph, not only due to the service you receive but also because their owner is a master winemaker who worked for St. Julian Winery before he decided to open White Pine Winery.  He got his PhD in Viticulture with concentration in cold climate grape growth.  He uses a combination of science and knowledge of the horticulture behind growing amazing grapes to produce award-winning wine.  We tried some new wine and a "2011 Merlot" that was so smooth, I had to buy a bottle.  Their "Serendipity" wine was amazing but I wanted to get my hands on the "Merlot."  We also loved the "Lady Slipper Blush" was so smooth too, made from the Chambourcin grape.  After having a very in-depth conversation with the owner's wife we bought some bottles and headed next door to Lazy Ballerina Winery.


Vineyards preparing to bloom in less than a month.

It was about 5:30PM when we entered Lazy Ballerina Winerywe knew that we would not be able to make it to Lawton Ridge Winery all the way in Kalamazoo by 6PM.  Lazy Ballerina Winery is a unique place where all of their wine's names are ballet or dance related.  One of my favorite wines from this winery is the "Barrel Rouge" a red wine aged in old bourbon barrels.  They can benefit from aging in the bottle, if you can wait that long.  We also tried a new wine that wasn't released yet, which they let us purchase.  Delicious!  It was about 6:15PM when we left St. Joseph.  This was a very long day full of fun and excitement.


With the taste of multiple different wines on my tongue, 3 boxes of wine in the car and tons of new material to write about, we decided to head home to properly store our new wine.  I do love these day trips but I think 6 wineries is a good maximum to visit in one day.  I'll have posts about the wineries and vineyards we visited in the weeks to come.  In the meantime, enjoy the pictures and posts.  Wine trips are fun and especially great for replenishing your wine stash.  Remember I would love to hear your wine adventures too.


Stay thirsty for more wine posts!  Cheers.

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