Winter in Michiana can be an unpredictable beast, but one thing is sure: it arrives whether we want it or not.
We are fortunate to have many great wineries along the Lake Michigan shore to help us beat back the seasonal affective disorder. We got in touch with the experts at five wineries along the shore and asked them for their recommendations on wine to pair with winter this season.
12 Corners Vineyards and Winery
In order to survive the cold winter with a belly full of hearty meat dishes and savory stews, Gloria Warwell-Oberst, the store operations manager for 12 Corners, suggests pairing your meal with the winery’s Cabernet Sauvignon.
“[The Cab Sauv] is a full-bodied, classic dry red wine that has been aged in American oak barrels for 12 months,” she said. “This elegantly balanced wine has notes of orange blossom, toasted vanilla and black cherry.”
12 Corners Vineyards and Winery is located at 1201 N. Benton Center Road in Benton Harbor, Michigan. The winery is open from noon to 6 p.m. Monday to Thursday; from noon to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.
St. Julian Winery
No matter what the weather is doing outside, Nancie Oxley, the vice president and winemaker at St. Julian Winery, has a couple of recommendations to heat up your taste buds with red and white wine.
“With hearty stew, I would recommend our Braganini Reserve Chancellor,” she said. “The earthy flavors match perfectly with the vegetable components of the stew and it has enough bold flavors to compliment the meat.”
Oxley also mentioned that sometimes in Michiana we choose to have meals, like white chicken chili, in the winter, which pair better with a white wine.
“Usually [white chicken chili] has a little spicy kick to it, so I love pairing our St. Julian Riesling,” she said. “The touch of sweetness and rich flavors of this wine balance the heat of the chicken chili, making it a perfect match!”
St. Julian’s Union Pier tasting room is located at 9145 Union Pier Road in Union Pier. The tasting room is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Thursday; from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
LEMON CREEK Winery
For the past several years, Jeff Lemon, the co-owner and head winemaker for Lemon Creek Winery, has been working intently on his red wine varietals. For those looking to invigorate their senses this winter, look no further than the 2014 Merlot Reserve.
“The lush, concentrated fruit flavors of this 100-percent Merlot are enhanced by subtle barrel toast aromas. The wine’s richness and soft tannins linger on an extended finish,” according to the tasting notes from the website.
Co-owner and tasting room manager Kathy Lemon adds that Lemon Creek Winery has enough award-winning varieties to satisfy any wine drinker, whether they prefer dry or sweet wine.
Some of Kathy’s personal favorite wines at the moment are the Meritage, the 2016 dry Riesling, the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Barrel Select and the 2015 Cabernet Franc.
“We have some wines that are not so common in Michigan and that are special,” she says. “Everything here is 100-percent state-grown and has been for 33 years. We’ve never bought a grape.”
Lemon Creek Winery is located at 533 E. Lemon Creek Road in Berrien Springs, Michigan. The winery is open from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday to Thursday; from noon to 6 p.m. Friday; and from
11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.
Sometimes you are in the mood for seasonal favorites, and winter is no exception. Lauren Kniebes, the co-owner of Lazy Ballerina Winery, suggests reaching for a bottle of the winery’s cranberry wine, which is made with 100 percent Michigan cranberries.
“While [the cranberry wine] is wonderful chilled, it showcases well in the winter as a mulled wine,” she said. “Simply heat and add an array of mulling spices such as cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and orange peel. [It’s] best if sipped after shoveling snow or skiing this winter in Michiana!”
There’s more than one way to warm your chilled bones during the winter, so Kniebes suggests Lazy Ballerina’s bourbon-barrel-aged Barrel Rouge wine.
“This bold and smoky dry red wine is aged in local bourbon barrels for 60 days,” she said. “Drink it by the fireplace or pair it with a hearty meal and let the spicy, malty flavors warm you up during the colder months.”
Lazy Ballerina Winery is located at 315 State St. in Saint Joseph, Michigan. The winery is open from noon to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday, and from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.
This winery powerhouse was too difficult to tackle alone, so sample from these three suggestions from Creative Director Heather Shelby. Tasting notes for these wines come directly from the each wineries website.
TABOR HILL WINERY
Wine selection: Classic Demi-Red
An exciting, well-balanced marriage unites Tabor Hill’s famous Classic Demi-Sec with a special red blend. With hints of sweetness and tannin, this wine is smooth and sippable, making it great for red and white wine drinkers alike.
ROUND BARN WINERY,
DISTILLERY AND BREWERY
Wine selection: Cabernet Sauvignon
Full-bodied and firm in texture with smooth, ripe tannins, this wine shows concentrated blackberry, black cherry and currant aromas. This wine is well-balanced with integrated oak and tannin. Juicy ripe cherry and berry flavors with a hint of chocolate enter on the finish. This Cabernet Sauvignon is a classic match for rich stews and red meat dishes, but it also pairs well with flavorful pastas, mushroom dishes and even savory white meats.
FREE RUN CELLARS
Wine selection: Cabernet Sauvignon
This is a full-bodied dry red wine that has a nose of blackberries and ripe plums with hints of vanilla. The ripe fruit carries through to the palate with huge jammed dark fruits, and the light toasted oak used produces a lengthy toasted marshmallow finish. It pairs well with lamb or peppered steak.
Tabor Hill’s main winery is located at 185 Mount Tabor Hill Road in Buchanan, Michigan. The tasting room is open from noon to 5 p.m. Monday and Tuesday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Round Barn’s main winery is located at 10983 Hills Road in Baroda, Michigan. The tasting room is open from noon to 6 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday from January to March.
Free Run Cellars’ winter tasting room is located at 9185 Union Pier Road in Union Pier, Michigan. The tasting room is open from noon to 6 p.m. Monday to Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday.
Photography by Emily Sobecki