Sunday, March 15, 2009

Wine Country In Southwest Michigan

When most people think of doing a girls weekend winery tour they automatically think of California, but what about Michigan?

Southwest Michigan has great sandy fertile soil which gives the area the name “fruit belt” of Michigan. Another great quality that helps the grapes grow so well is the proximity to Lake Michigan. Lake Michigan moderates the temperature for this area which helps wine grapes grow so well. Southwest Michigan is designated as a American Viticultural Area (AVA) just like Napa Valley or Sonoma Valley. This viticultural area contains 11 wineries plus other tasting rooms as listed on the Michigan Wine Trail.
Three Southwest Michigan wineries that top my list when I want to take a quick girls weekend getaway are Karma Vista, Lemon Creek, and Round Barn .

Karma Vista Vineyard

Karma Vista has such a great laid back feeling when you walk in that you could almost stay there all day. They have a tasting area and a patio area where you can chill and look out at the vineyards and have some food pairing with your bottle of wine you just bought. One of the things you will notice about their wine bottle labels is that they are similar to record covers.
That is not a mistake they are! The according to Karma Vista's website, "Our kids will never understand the thrill of buying an album and studying the cover in all its glory, reading every word of every song printed somewhere on the inside and trying to figure out what the lyrics really meant. Cherry Amour, Starry Starry White, and Pink Side of the Moon all take us back to a time when we were younger and everything was analog instead of digital. There might even be a few hidden messages on the back labels." It truly is a special place and one place you can not miss if you are doing a wine tour in Southwest Michigan.
Looking for more info about Karma Vista year round? Try their DeVine blog!

Lemon Creek Winery

Lemon Creek Winery is also a u-pick fruit farm. When you enter the tasting room get ready to taste some of the best wine ever. Seriously, they have some great tasting wine. Forget California, France, Italy, and Spain ... these wines are some of my favorites and my girlfriends agree! If you like ice wine they have a couple of that you can taste. Ice wines are very sweet wines and are unlike any wine you might have tasted previously. The reason for the name ice wine, is because the grapes that are used for that wine are picked later in the season after the first frost and are usually frozen when they are pressed. This makes the wine much sweeter and almost like syrup because the excess water is removed as ice. Lemon Creek's tasting room, like most others in Michigan are free, but ice wine is an additional charge since it is such a rare and expensive delicacy.
One of the other things that is great about Lemon Creek Winey is that a few wine names and labels reflect the area and a couple give homage to the local beach town near by St. Joseph, MI, including Lighthouse White, and Silver Beach Sauterne.

Round Barn Winery


Another winery, just down the road is Round Barn Winery. In addition to being a great winery, Round Barn is also a distillery and brewery. One of the remarkable tastes you can't miss here is their DiVine Vodka, which was rated "The Best" by Chicago Magazine - even better than Grey Goose, Ketel One, and Belvedere in January 2007!
Round Barn has one of the more active vinyards in the area, and there are often entertainment available in the summer as well as guided tours for a small fee and a picnic spot, so it makes a great place to plan a lunch. Unlike other wineries in the area though, they charge a small fee for purchasing a tasting glass (makes a great souvenir!), but it includes 5 wine samples, 1 desert wine, and 1 vodka (straight or martini of the day).

Exploring the Area ...


The Southwest coast of Michigan is filled with lots of cute little beach towns that you can find millions of things to do on a chick vacation. The beaches are beautiful white sand dunes. It is really heaven. The towns of St. Joseph, South Haven, and Saugatuck have cute downtowns with different shops and a variety of restaurants. All of the towns also have festivals and fairs of some sort going on all year round.
While the summer is obviously the best time of year to get the most out of the area, most Michigan tasting rooms are open year round.
The wineries featured in this article are less than 2 hours from Chicago, less than 3 hours from Detroit, and about 3.5 hours from Indianapolis.
If you are thinking about planning a girls getaway, don't forget to contact us so our Chick Vacations Travel Concierges can help plan your perfect women only weekend!