One of my favorite things about living in South Bend is its close proximity to Southwest Michigan, which is home to excellent beaches, restaurants, vacation rentals, breweries and wineries. If I need a quick getaway to recharge – a 40 minute drive will take me to the shores of Lake Michigan or wine country – which are both excellent escapes from the daily grind; The scenery is also beautiful. People often don’t realize just how many wineries there are in Southwest Michigan within a short drive from one another. Plus, the wine is actually good!
I’ve listed some of my favorite wineries below in driving order (north to south) and why I like each of them. While you could easily drive to all of them in one day, I usually hit up two or three and spend some time taking in the scenery and relaxing. The tasting fees also quickly add up (typically $8-$10 per winery for 4-6 tastings), so plan accordingly.
Lemon Creek Winery (533 East Lemon Creek Road, Berrien Springs, MI 49103)
Lemon Creek is home to my favorite Southwest Michigan wines. I’m a big fan of dry reds, and Lemon Creek does not disappoint. While the tasting room at Lemon Creek is rather dated (think lots of wine decor for middle-aged women), it’s usually not as crazy as some of the other wineries, which I appreciate. The grounds are also beautiful. In addition to sampling wine, Lemon Creek provides the opportunity to pick fruit from its orchards. We love picking apples and concord grapes there in the fall and the produce is quite a bit cheaper than other U-Pick orchards in the area. If you’re not up for picking, there’s a small farm market with pre-picked fruit from the orchards in the barn next to the tasting room and wine store. $10 for 5 samples.
Dablon Winery & Vineyard (111 W Shawnee Rd, Baroda, MI 49101)
The newest winery on the Southwest Michigan wine scene is Dablon Winery and Vineyard. Dablon has the trendiest and most modern tasting room by far – it’s absolutely beautiful. The tasting room overlooks the vineyard and there’s a huge brick fireplace with a roaring fire and an outdoor patio where you can hang out next to a bonfire. Dablon is owned by the person who owns the famous Music Box Theatre in Chicago – a historic theatre that is known for showing independent and art films. For a place to chill out with friends and enjoy the scenery, Dablon is the winner in my book. The wine’s not bad either. Six tastings cost $10.
Gravity Winery (10220 Lauer Rd, Baroda, MI 49101)
As mentioned in an earlier post, I love cheese. I also love chocolate. The great thing about Gravity Winery is that every wine tasting comes with either a cheese or chocolate pairing. Gravity also has an excellent outdoor patio overlooking a small lake. While the wine at Gravity is not my favorite (it’s fine, just not my personal favorite), the fact that its doing something out of the norm with the cheese and chocolate pairings makes it a fun place to check out. $10 for four sizable wine tastings, each with either a cheese or chocolate pairing.
Round Barn Winery, Distillery and Brewery (10983 Hills Road, Baroda, MI 49101)
Round Barn not only makes wine, but they also distill their own vodka and have a brewery on site. During the weekends in the summer, they have live music on the lawn between the wine barn and beer barn and food. It’s a great place to buy a bottle of wine, grab a table with a group of friends, listen to music and enjoy the warm weather. The downside is that sampling can be difficult in the summer due to the crowds. Because of the crowds, including large numbers of bachelorette parties, I prefer to hang out at Round Barn in the winter (a huge perk of living so close!), when things are a bit less hectic. It is a beautiful winery and I love that you can sample beer, wine, and spirits. $10 for six samples of wine and a branded wine glass.
Tabor Hill Winery & Restaurant (185 Mt Tabor Rd, Buchanan, MI 49107)
Tabor Hill is one of the oldest wineries in the region, and is perhaps the most well known. It’s Demi Sec is one of the top selling wines in the Midwest; It was also rumored to be one of President Gerald Ford’s favorite wines, and continues to be available in the White House today. Tabor Hill has a beautiful tasting room and an elegant restaurant with large windows overlooking the vineyard. I’ve heard the food in the restaurant is excellent, although pricey. Tabor Hill is a great place to try some of the best wines in Southwest Michigan; That being said, it definitely has the most pretentious vibe of all of the wineries in the area and caters to an older crowd than some of the others. Don’t miss the chocolate or the cherry wine – it’s excellent. Tasting fee is $9. They also have a winery tour available, which explains the production – I definitely recommend it.
Hickory Creek (750 Browntown Rd, Buchanan, MI 49107)
I recently went to Hickory Creek for the first time a few weeks ago, and I was pleasantly surprised. I had no idea it was just around the corner from Round Barn and Tabor Hill. Hickory Creek has a tiny tasting room, but it was a lot less crowded than the other wineries. They also have some outdoor seating next to the big red barn that is home to the tasting room and production area. The wine was very good. In addition, they have a corgi who will do anything for dog treats, but will avoid you at all costs otherwise – it was quite entertaining to watch. Tasting is $7 for six samples.
If you need a place to stop for lunch during your day of wine tasting, check out Round Barn’s Brewery and Public House in Baroda. They have excellent food and also serve up flights of Round Barn’s beer. Have fun!