Two Southwest Michigan Wineries Expanding
As the Southwest Michigan wine industry continues to grow, two leading regional wineries- Gravity and Lemon Creek- are substantially increasing their tasting room capacity.
At Gravity Winery in Baroda, Michigan, owner Rockie Rick is in the process of building a 1,600 square foot covered outdoor deck that will open this summer. The new deck is an addition to the existing tasting room which opened in 2011. Overlooking a large pond and the surrounding countryside, the new space will allow Gravity to double the number of patrons it can seat.
From the new deck, customers will also have a view of a small, but growing, vineyard where individuals can sponsor their own newly planted grapevines.
Rick knows a thing or two about growing grapes. As one of the largest growers in Southwest Michigan, he manages 38 planted acres of wine grapes.
Rick said that he plans to use about 40% of his total grape production to make wines for Gravity. Although Rockie and his wife, Allison, have been producing wine under their own label only since October 2012, the couple has been providing grapes to neighboring wineries for six years.
Not only are Rockie and Allison expanding the winery, they are also adding to the vineyard. This summer they will be planting one acre each of GewÃ¼rztraminer, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Syrah. Some own rooted Vignoles will also be going in the ground.
Rick has future plans to expand into hard ciders so he is in the process of planting apple trees too.
Most of Gravity’s customers come from Illinois, many on wine tour buses. While there are Michigan license plates in the parking lot, Rick would like to have more local traffic. “Most Michigan people go to Traverse City to relax; one of our goals is to give local Michigan people a reason to discover the great wine in their backyard.”
Gravity Winery tastings are served by the flight and each wine is paired with either gourmet chocolate or cheese. They have lots of seating indoors and outdoors overlooking the lake and vineyards for you to enjoy this unique experience.
A flight consists of four different wines and four chocolates and/or cheeses for $10.
Just down the road from Gravity, Lemon Creek Winery has completed a major expansion of their indoor tasting room. According to Lemon Creek president Jeff Lemon, the new 1,250 square foot tasting room will allow Lemon Creek to provide a more comfortable experience for customers while increasing efficiency for the winery. Before the expansion, the one tasting room bar would sometimes be lined four or five rows deep with customers waiting to taste.
With two separate tasting rooms and two tasting bars the overcrowding problem has been eliminated, Lemon said. The noise level has also come way down, he reports. The new tasting room also gives Lemon Creek the ability to seat as many as 60. The increased seating can be used for club and business meetings. Lemon Creek even used the new space to have a salsa dance class, Lemon said.
In addition to being one of the largest wineries in Southwest Michigan, Lemon Creek is one of the most popular “U-Pick” farms in Michigan. During the summer, hundreds of guests pick grapes, apples, raspberries, plums, peaches and other fruits. (Lemon Creek farms about 150 acres of grapes and 60 acres of fruit.) A new parking lot expansion helps handle both the winery and fruit picking traffic, Lemon said.