Did you know that Michigan’s Great Southwest is home to almost 30 wineries and tasting rooms as well as acres upon acres of vineyards? In fact, 45% of Michigan’s grapes are grown here in the southwest region of the Mitten State. Although many of us hate to say it, fall is just around the corner, which means the grape harvest season is upon us!
With so many wine tasting opportunities right in our backyard, visiting wineries and tasting rooms in southwest Michigan is a must this fall season. To guide you during your upcoming wine adventures, I’ve put together a list of tips that will help you make the most of your trip.
Plan Your Path
The wineries of Southwest Michigan are spread out across a large area from as far north as Fennville, as far south as Union Pier and as far east as Kalamazoo. It is helpful to limit yourself to four or five wineries in a day so that you can thoroughly enjoy your experience at each location. Visit www.MichiganWines.com to get a full listing of the wineries in the area and links to all of Michigan’s wineries’ websites or check out the downtown Welcome Center and pick up a map featuring the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail or Michigan’s Wine Country Guide.
You don’t have to be a wine connoisseur to enjoy wine. It’s okay if you don’t know exactly what you like or which wines to taste. Winery and tasting room employees are happy to point you in the right direction, whether you prefer a dry oaky red, a sweet white, or a seasonal fruit wine. There are usually numerous options for all tastes at each location.
Bring Home Your Favorites
Winemakers take pride in their vintages and love that you enjoy the fruits of their labor (literally!). Many of this area’s wineries have won awards throughout the state and country for their specialty wines. Bring home a bottle for yourself and to share with friends to show them what Michigan wine is all about. Wine also makes a fantastic gift (especially during the holiday season!).
Of course, on your tour, it is important to have a designated driver. Tasting wine at a few wineries adds up quicker than you might think. Assign a designated driver (usually paying for driver’s dinner helps!), consider a limousine service or check out area touring businesses. Definitely have fun on your tour, but be sure to taste responsibly.
Take Lots of Photos and Have Fun!
Numerous Southwest Michigan wineries boast fantastic views of vineyards and feature charming and fun tasting rooms that create great photo opportunities for your friends and families. Document your wine journey and share on social media. Wineries love seeing what fun you were having at their facility. Not to mention, taking photos also works as a great reminder of what wines you’ve tried and helps when planning a return trip.
Co-Owner of Lazy Ballerina Winery in downtown St. Joseph, Michigan