Round Barn Winery, located in Baroda, MI, 95 miles from Chicago, has it all: wine, beer, vodka, rum, and bourbon (the spirits are sold under the DiVine label). Situated in a quaint area of mostly farmland--and, surprisingly, a whole lot of grape vines--Round Barn is the ideal day-trip from the Loop. It's easy to get to--and once you're there, there's something for everyone.
Since we're wine bloggers and since we had our one year old with us and since we were driving, we only tasted the wine, but we definitely want to go back to try more. We expected Michigan wine to be predominately sweet wines made from French-American hybrid grapes (or not from grapes at all.) While Round Barn does make several sweet wines, we were pleasantly surprised to find they predominantly grow vinifera (traditional European wine grapes) and do make some dry wines.
"The potential [for great wine] is really here," said co-owner Chris Moersch, who runs the place with his brother, Matthew.
Moersh explained how proximity to Lake Michigan helps keep the Southwest Michigan climate temperate, which allows for cultivation of vinifera. He compared the region to Washington and Oregon 20 years ago. The vines just need some more time to mature, as do the palates of their local clientele.
Afterall, 80% of the top-selling bottlesare in the semi-dry to sweet range (2.5 residual sugar or higher). "We get the newbies, we don't run into a lot of wine snobs," Moersch said.
We liked the Pinot Gris LMS ($17.99) enough to bring home a bottle. The reds were not complex enough for our taste, but it was nice to go to a relatively local winery and try wine that wasn't just sweet and fruity.
There are several other wineries in the area, so it seems easy enough to make a weekend trip of it. We plan to. And next time, we're trying the beer too!