Being a Michigan native, our family has always kept with tradition and gone north for the summer. Traverse City, Mackinac Island, these have always been our summer vacation destinations. How many of you remember spending your summers at “the cabin up north”? Seriously, my mom even begins her childhood memories that way. It is just what we Michigander’s do! Over my lifetime I have spent quite a bit of time touring around my hometown state of Michigan but for some reason this entire time I have neglected one important part of the state: Southwest Michigan.
Ask me why I have never ventured past Kalamazoo to the west side of the state and I will tell you “I have no idea”. I guess I thought there was nothing to do in that side of the state, just farm fields and such. So last weekend, to fix this problem, my husband and I jumped in the car for a couples weekend away and drove out to the southwest side of Michigan, also known as New Buffalo. I considered stopping here to talk about the importance of a weekend away with your spouse every once in awhile, but I think many of you already know why it’s a good idea. Especially with young kids, sometimes you just need to reconnect and relax together to remember why you love each other. So back to my story: As my husband and I drove past field after field into the slow paced town of New Buffalo my only thought was “This is brilliant”. Within this adorable tiny town of only three stop lights sat a luxury hotel, a beautiful beach full of mounds of sand, vineyards all around and quiet. Yes, perfect quiet. There was no traffic humming past or loud construction noises to be heard, just the sounds of birds chirping, water swishing in the harbor and my thoughts finally able to gain my own attention again.
What is there to do in southwest Michigan?
I was right. Southwest Michigan IS full of fields, but guess what? Those fields are full of grape vines! What are grapes used for? Ding Ding! WINE!! Southwest Michigan is full of wineries, distilleries, gourmet restaurants and even a casino! Vacationing to this part of Michigan was like saying to myself “Seriously, where have you been all my life?”
During our two day visit we were able to check out four wineries. This number, two wineries per day, seemed like the perfect amount of wine tasting since each winery allowed us to sample around 5-8 different wines. It is good to pace yourself and even take the time to sit outdoors and enjoy the views for awhile. This isn’t speed dating people.
There were so many great wineries to visit, but here are a few highlights from our favorites.
The first stop on our tour was Domaine Berrien Cellars. This quaint, family owned winery believes that good wine is grown in the vineyard, not made in the cellars. It is for this reason that Domaine Berrien takes a lot of pride and care in growing their own grapes. As we made the drive up their long driveway we could witness their rows upon rows of vines hugging the way. This winery has won a lot of awards for their craft and is definitely worth visiting.
My favorite wine from Domaine Berrien: 2012 Vignoles (Vee-nole) – a refreshing wine with tropical flavors of sweet pineapple, mango and kiwi.
The second stop on our wine tour was Lemon Creek Winery. This upscale tasting room was larger than the others we’ve seen and featured fun gifts and shopping. This winery is a fun place to hang out and was quite busy during our visit. In the center of the room was a large tasting bar where we were enlightened to learn about the art of mixing wines together. Seriously, who knew you could mix wines and create a whole different level of flavor?
My favorite wine from Lemon Creek Winery: (a mix) Cherry wine mixed with peach spumante.
Next up was Hickory Creek Winery. A fun winery with a laid back feel. The staff was very personable and the wine was delicious. I especially loved their wine scented candles for sale in the tasting room. Seriously, look for them. Also, something I loved about this winery is that they sell a Laughing Lab Rose that they donate a portion of the sales from to helping the Midwest Lab Rescue find forever homes for their dogs.
My favorite wine from Hickory Creek Winery: 2012 Gentil
The last winery stop of our weekend was at the Contessa Wine Cellars. This winery was a bit retro, just like me. They even had a Marilyn Monroe themed bathroom! While I loved the decor, I really loved the wine. I stuck to the sweeter wines and they didn’t disappoint. This winery also has a large deck area to sit and enjoy the day with outdoor bars and a great view of the vineyards.
My favorite wine from Contessa Wine Cellars: Dolce Vita & the Cherry wine
After our fun filled day out and about exploring, we were excited and ready to come back to our hotel home and relax. During this trip we were lucky to have found a great place to stay that caters to couples looking to relax. The Harbor Grand is an spa style hotel that offers complimentary breakfast in bed, whirlpool tubs, updated showers, a masseuses on premise and incredible views of the harbor. You can read even more about this luxurious hotel over on my review article on TravelingMoms.com.
While Southwest Michigan looks to be a wonderful place to vacation as a family, from this past weekends’ experience, I can tell you that southwest Michigan is definitely a place to go for an adult weekend away!
Hickory Creek Winery – 750 Browntown Rd, Buchanan, Michigan
Domaine Berrien Cellars – 398 E Lemon Creek Rd. Berrien Springs, Michigan
Lemon Creek Winery – 533 E Lemon Creek Rd. Berrien Springs, Michigan
Contessa Wine Cellars – 3235 Friday Rd, Coloma, Michigan