Saugatuck Fall Tasting Tour: Cider, Wine and Beer
“Age is just a number. It’s totally irrelevant unless, of course, you happen to be a bottle of wine.”
~ Joan Collins
“Wine improves with age. The older I get, the better I like it.”
So many guests who have only visited Saugatuck in the summer ask, “What’s Saugatuck like the rest of the year?”
Truthfully, we love life in Saugatuck all year round. However, when it takes that delightful turn towards crisp evenings and slightly cooler air, we know we’re in for something extra special!
We consider Indian Summer our secret season … the time when temperatures are warm, days are long, sunsets are spectacular, beaches are wide open for strolling, live music is playing all over town, artist galleries and studios are bursting with creativity, and the fields & orchards are full of goodness.
Today, we’ll let you in on a locals’ secret for one of the best ways to spend a fall day when visiting Saugatuck, Michigan. Plan your next getaway to Wickwood Inn and start a West Michigan beer tour, visit some of the top Southwest Michigan wineries, vineyards and cider houses. Here’s everything you need to know!
Saugatuck Brewing Company
At Wickwood, you are minutes away from Saugatuck Brewing Company, a popular destination for people on West Michigan beer tours. Be sure and try the Oval Beach Blonde, Singapore IPA, or the Bonfire Brown … a Gold Medal Winner in 2014 at the World Beer Cup in Denver, Colorado. Undecided as to what fresh brew sounds best? Try a sampler flight and taste your way to happiness. Perhaps take advantage of their spacious outdoor patio, and while you’re at it, why not wear your dancing shoes? The live music scene is sure to get you up on your feet. Looking for even more adventure and a great souvenir to bring home? Plan ahead and schedule time to brew your own beer. That’s right, at Saugatuck Brewing Company you can produce your own label. Perfect for your next big event!
Fenn Valley Winery
If you’re more in the mood for tasting your way through an idyllic vineyard, then Fenn Valley Vineyards and Wine Cellar is the place for you. Fenn Valley is one of the most popular Southwest Michigan wineries and rightfully so. Take their extended tour; or, simply drop in for tastings and wines by the glass. All year round they host some of our favorite events: Wine & Food Festival, Nouveau Fest, Music in the Vineyard, Winemaker Dinners, New Release Wine & Food Pairings and more. There’s still time to prepare for the 5th Annual Vine & Wine’d 10K or 5K race that winds its way through the beautiful vineyards on Saturday, October 7. Or, you could skip the training and simply enjoy the 1 mile run / walk. Regardless, the post-race vineyard party with live music is not to be missed. Insider’s tip: be sure and “lace up” for theTeam Grape Stomp Contest! Teams have 5 minutes to smash as many grapes as possible in specially designed stomping boxes.
Wyncroft & Marland Vineyards
This is maybe our biggest Insider’s Tip! Owned and operated by the same family, neither Wyncroft or Marland has a tasting room nor do they distribute very broadly. However, their wines are so delicious … they are worth seeking out. We fell in love with Wyncroft years ago after trying a glass of Chardonnay in an area restaurant. We’ve been hooked ever since. Tour appointments for 4 people or more, maybe even just for 2 if you’re serious about buying, can easily be made. Simply call for an appointment and talk to Jim about your interest. It’s by far one of my favorite wines in the world. I’d say that it’s our best kept secret and Jim is a friend of Wickwood’s often doing Tastings at The Inn. In 2013, we were thrilled for the addition of the second line of production: Marland wines. Thankfully, both Wyncroft & Marland (meaning Land near the Lake) are available to purchase right in downtown Saugatuck at Wine Sellers. Mike will be happy to help you!
Perhaps you prefer something other than beer and wine? If you are looking for something that’s crisp, light, and very local … we’ve got that. Take a tasting tour at Virtue Cider: 100% of the apples are Michigan apples, and they are hand-pressed, fermented, and aged right on the premises in Fennville. Be sure and try a tasting flight: the variety of flavor profiles will amaze! You’ll quickly learn to differentiate between ciders made in the French or the English style and have the opportunity to try some single orchard offerings and limited edition creations. We’re partial to Percheron, Brut, and The Mitten … depending on the weather. Insider’s Tip: Take a few minutes in the bottle shop. We love some of the graphics they use in their designs, and they always have a pleasant stash of good eats.
In addition to being our favorite place to pick apples, Crane’s Orchards also has a restaurant and a winery. We love the addition of wine and hard cider into their decades of farming tradition. Their wine and cider receives the same treatment as their famous pies: use the best fruit and treat it with impeccable care. Insider’s Tip: try The Nepotist – their Bourbon Barrel Aged hard cider. If you’re lucky enough to visit during the fall, don’t miss their 20 acre corn maze! Be sure and check their events calendar, because there’s always something fun happening at Crane’s!
McIntosh Wine Cellars and Cogdal Vineyards
Just down the road there are two more tasting options: McIntosh Wine Cellars and Cogdal Vineyards. McIntosh specializes in fruit wines and traditional style cider. Insider’s Tip: allow time to taste in the relaxed surrounding of their porches and orchards. Also, see if there’s a special event going on during your visit. McIntosh hosts a great party. Cogdal produces small batch wines from Michigan grapes and their tasting room features beautiful hardwood harvested from the property.
“In victory, you deserve Champagne. In defeat you need it.”
~ Napoleon Bonaparte
“I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food.”
~ W.C. Fields