Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Michigan Wine Tour and Other Birthday Weekend Fun

I had grand plans to do a post all on the wine tour - then we got to Round Barn Winery and tasted the first 4 wines, a martini and had a beer on the patio and I forgot to take pictures of the rest.  Guess that's the sign of a good time, huh? LOL.  So I thought I'd share all the special moments from my birthday weekend.

First, my sweet husband happened to be on the road for work on Friday and came to take me to lunch - are rare occurrence since he works an hour away.  Then these lovely roses were delivered from Jon Anthony Florists - if you are in the mid-Michigan area and need flowers - let me just say they always have the most perfect, fragrant and long-lasting roses.  Plus the elderly gentleman who delivers is very sweet and funny and a helpless flirt - a man who truly is doing a job you can tell he loves.

Then, it had rained and on our way home from the daycare and grocery shopping, the kids and I spotted this beautiful rainbow.

On Saturday, the kids were bundled off to Grandma's for an overnight while my handsome hubster and I met up with our high school friend for a road trip to tour some of our favorite wineries down in the Berrien Springs area.  The weather could not have been more perfect - not a cloud in the sky and a breezy 83 degrees.  Our first stop was St. Julian's tasting room and bottling plant in Paw Paw.  St. Julian's is known for both their wines and non-alcoholic sparkling juices.  They have a lovely tasting room that also features samples of their bread dipping sauces and other goodies.  They also have a banquet room that features a collection of vintage motorcycles, boat motors and other collectibles.  They do offer tours of the bottling plant as well but we decided to hit that another day.

Round Barn is a beautiful winery and brewery with lots of open outdoor space to relax if you are ever in the area.  They have a large variety of tasty wines, vodka, rum, and beer to sample and usually have live music outside and food on the weekends.  There are typically several wineries together in a small area around Round Barn and you can get a map and hours for all the establishments at the Lake Michigan Wine Shore Trail website.  After Round Barn decided to head to another favorite, Lemon Creek Winery.  This little place stole our hearts our first year of visiting with their Peach Spumante, their annual Blues Festival, the little farm market and lovely pond.  After scoring a few bottles of our favorites there and grabbing some wonderful peaches at the farm stand, we headed off to Free Run Cellars.  Free Run is owned by part of the same family that owns Round Barn but features a bit smaller selection and focuses more on the heavier, drier German tastes.  My favorites tend to be their dessert wines.  We typically hit Domaine Berrien and Tabor Hill as well but decided to skip them this time after seeing the mass of cars lined up at Domaine Berrien for their arts, wine & music festival.  Tabor Hill seems to always be very very busy.

Part of our strategy when we go is to pick up a bottle of what we like as we go (happy birthday to me!).  Its a once-a-year trip and we find that it makes sense to have a selection in the cabinet that we know we like for special occasions and even gifts for family and friends.  We always grab a bottle for each of our parents and for our neighbor lady as a thank you for all the little things they do for us.  Its also fun because most of the wineries let you keep your glass as part of your tasting fee.  We love having the little logo glasses and reminiscing about our trip.

Many of the wineries also have beer, vodka, or other spirits to sample and purchase.  I regretted not buying a growler (which I keep calling a guzzler, haha!) the past two years at Round Barn - they have a really tasty summer wheat ale - so we ended up with one of those this year too.  Plus the growler is really cool looking and perfect for making a small batch of hard cider.  We bought a cream sherry from St. Julian that will be a hit for sipping at Christmas and at the cabin after a day of snowmobiling.  It was very enjoyable way to spend my birthday and we topped it off with a stop at Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner and then I was ready for bed!  We'll certainly continue this tradition.

On Sunday, we headed out to breakfast and then price-checking at some sporting goods stores for their end-of-summer deals on tents and canopies.  We have a fun trip coming up in a couple of weeks where we can use them and have decided to invest in more camping gear as the kids are old enough to hopefully squeeze in multiple camping trips next summer.  We ended up scoring a giant 17'x15' tent at Dunham's that I was able to use my 30% off birthday coupon and get for just $125 - score!  Then we picked up the kids and my brother and headed to open skating at the ice rink so Little Man could practice with his new ice skates.  Overall a fabulous birthday weekend!

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