Did you know Southwest Michigan is one of five American Viticulture Areas in Michigan? The sloping terrain along the lakeshore, mild temperatures and variety of soils make it the perfect location for growing grapes and other fruits that serve as the inspiration for a vast array of award winning wines. In fact, our growing season has been compared to noteworthy destinations such as Bordeaux, France and Piedmont, Italy.
With more than 22 wineries dotting the landscape along the Maker's Trail, you can easily enjoy an afternoon or an entire weekend with a glass in hand. In fact, the winter months offer an entirely new experience featuring more secluded tasting rooms, mulled wine options, and a variety of experiences that are unique to the snowy season. Read on to discover three of my favorite winter winery experiences.
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Southwest Michigan Tourist Council. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Drink Wine in an Igloo at Round Barn Estate
Is there anything more winter-esque than sipping wine in an igloo? The insta-worthy domes seem to be popping up all over and Round Barn recently added four on the grounds of their estate. The domes can seat up to 8 people, are heated and available on a first-come first-serve basis. You'll have to stop in the tasting room first and grab a glass of your favorite wine or beer before heading outside. We also picked up a board game to play while hanging in the igloos. The day we visited the sun was shining and the igloos were plenty warm enough and we didn't even need our coats inside.
If the igloos are full when you arrive, don't worry! People moved in and out of them pretty quickly while we were there and you can always participate in a tasting or grab a drink in the iconic round barn while you wait.
Cozy Up By the Fire at Dablon Winery
One of my favorite tasting rooms no matter the season has to be Dablon Winery. The brown leather couches, ornate chandeliers, and bottles lining the walls make it a wine lover's paradise. But let's not forget about the star of the show - the expansive stone fireplace which makes the perfect place to cozy up next to on a cold winter day. They also have outdoor fire pits on the patio that are lit on occasion and most weekends you can also enjoy live music by local artists.
Keep an eye out for other fun events happening at the winery throughout the winter months. We had originally registered for their Snowshoeing in the Vineyard event which includes a guided snowshoe hike through the vineyard led by Sarett Nature Center and ends with a glass of wine and live music back at the tasting room. Unfortunately, Mother Nature didn't want to cooperate and there wasn't enough snow on the ground for the event to take place but be sure to follow them on Facebook page to be notified when they host it again.
Participate in a Wine and Chocolate Tasting at Domaine Berrien Cellars
What pairs better with wine than chocolate? During our winter bucket list weekend we had the opportunity to attend the first wine and chocolate tasting event at Domaine Berrien Cellars. The guided tasting featured five artisan chocolates crafted by Anne Boulley of Artisan Chocolatier paired with five wines grown and bottled by Domaine Berrien Cellars.
We had so much fun learning some of the history behind where chocolate comes from and how it is made. We also learned about the ingredients in the chocolates and why they paired well with each particular wine. My favorite part was getting to see what the next chocolate was going to look like.
- 2016 Oaked Marsanne with white chocolate and pear ganache and an applewood smoked butter caramel
- 2018 Riesling with 44% milk chocolate ganache with ginger and local honey
- 2017 Merlot with dark milk chocolate ganache and fresh blackberry gel and freeze dried raspberries
- 2017 Red Satin with 66% dark chocolate ganache with dried cherry and brandy
- 2017 Cabernet Franc Ice Wine with 70% Bolivian craft chocolate Belgian butter truffle with accents of edible gold
This was the first wine and chocolate event Domaine Berrien Cellars hosted, but based on it's popularity I'm sure there will be others in the future. You can also discover other unique Makers Trail events featuring pairings such as macarons, Girl Scout cookies and more by clicking here.
Makers Trail Passport
Before starting your Makers Trail journey be sure to pick up a Flight Crew Passport. Receive a stamp for each of the more than 40 participating craft breweries, wineries and distilleries you visit and earn Makers Trail rewards along the way. The more destinations you visit, the more free stuff you’ll get!