Wednesday, August 27, 2014

West Michigan's Best Bed & Breakfasts

There's something special about staying at a B&B that instantly makes you feel welcome. Here you're not just another guest, you become part of the family for your stay. Cozy rooms, outstanding breakfasts, and time to slow down and enjoy the simpler things in life.

A Country Place Bed & Breakfast is located in South Haven, and will leave you just .24 miles away from public beach access to Lake Michigan. The B&B offers five uniquely decorated guest rooms, all of which offer their own private bath, television, & mini fridge, with three boasting electric fireplaces as well. You’ll enjoy a scrumptious homemade breakfast in the morning, and freshly baked goods, snacks, and beverages around the clock. You’ll be hosted by Chuck and Katie, as well as the resident dog Lola! Visit during the month of October to witness the entire house transformed into a haunted B&B!

Amanda’s Bequest Bed & Breakfast is a Heritage FarmStay experience located in Montague, MI. Along with your choice of three uniquely themed guest rooms, on-site heritage cooking class activities, and a full breakfast featuring heirloom recipes, you’ll enjoy the great history of this site when you stay. Built in the early 1870s, the building was originally the manse (parsonage) for the Ferry Memorial Church, built to honor Amanda’s son, who had fallen during the Civil War. The building has been moved since its creation, and served as apartments for almost 30 years before John & Valerie purchased the property and began uncovering & recovering the beauty of the original building. Spend your visit learning to churn butter or make jam, stroll in the woods, gather eggs, relax on the back gazebo, or do absolutely nothing at all.

Antiquities’ Wellington Inn welcomes you to Traverse City, and transports you to an era of quiet and gracious living. A time when life was slower, when families entertained at home, and downtown was a leisurely stroll past elegant neighborhood homes. Antiquities’ Wellington Inn is a 1905 neo-classical mansion built by one of Traverse City’s lumber barons, and now fully restored to its original grandeur. Enjoy a full breakfast each morning in the dining room, or enjoy refreshments any time of day just off the third floor ballroom. Located just a short walk away from the attractions and beaches of Traverse City, your hosts will be happy to help with any arrangements to ensure a memorable stay.

Your stay At Willow Pond in Fenwick will leave you feeling relaxed and refreshed. Their guests' most frequent comment is how peaceful and relaxing they find it at this country inn, here in “the middle of the mitten.” Their 26 acres nestled in Michigan’s heartland is in small town, just minutes away from exploring the orchards and farm stands, passing by the horse drawn buggies of the nearby Amish and Mennonite communities on your way to antique shops, and golf courses, lakes and bike trails, cute little stores and old fashioned movie theatres. Beautiful, quiet surroundings and great food await you on your stay.
BaySide Inn is located in the heart of downtown Saugatuck, and is positioned on the Saugatuck Harbor. Originally built in 1927 as a boathouse with living quarters on the upper level, the building sat partially submerged for years due to high waters until Kathy & Frank Wilson purchased the property in 1990 and transformed it into the prestigious B&B that it is today. Relaxation is the focus here, as you’re invited to relax in front of the fireplace in the central living area, enjoy the outdoor hot tub just four feet from the water’s edge, or watch sailboats and yachts head for Lake Michigan from the outdoor deck.

The Bridge Street Inn is a three story, historic Colonial Revival home in the summer resort town of Charlevoix. Located just steps from Lake Michigan, you’ll enjoy gorgeous sunsets from the wrap-around porch before you retire to one of eight comfortably appointed guest rooms. Formerly known as Baker Cottage, The Bridge Street Inn was built in 1895 as just one of over a dozen cottages for guests of the Beach Hotel to stay at. The Beach Hotel no longer exists, but The Bridge Street Inn carries on its historic character and elegant tradition. Join your fellow travelers for wine and cheese in the living room each night, and request turndown service to be treated to some homemade cookies before bedtime. All the comforts of home? We’d say this is a step up!

Vacation in luxury when you stay at the Cartier Mansion Bed & Breakfast in Ludington, just minutes away from Lake Michigan. Originally built as the estate of Ludington lumber baron Warren Cartier in the 1950s, the building now holds five elegant guest rooms. Much of the interior is still endowed with its original woodwork, fixtures, flooring, and antiques. The building still maintains & uses an original rib cage shower from 1905, the grand balcony overlooking Ludington Avenue, and the recently restored Carriage House. This historic home is also open for tours on Sundays from July through October for a $5 admission fee.

Immerse yourself in Northern Michigan’s wine country with a stay at Chateau Chantal’s Bed & Breakfast in Traverse City. They offer guests a unique experience that combines vineyard & winery, B&B lodging and friendly company, and a relaxing rural landscape with breathtaking views, local beaches, trails, and quiet country roads. Enjoy everything from cozy rooms to spacious suites, featuring views of vineyards and fresh water. Indulge in a glass of wine on the terrace or balcony, a wet bar, whirlpool tubs, elegant furnishings, ample breakfasts, and attentive front desk staff. Round out your stay by partaking in a wine dinner when you visit, which will afford you a beautifully prepared seven-course meal, each specially paired with a Chateau Chantal wine.

Enjoy a pleasant and comfortable stay at the Gerber Guest House Bed & Breakfast on your next visit to the Fremont area. Built in 1923, this is the original residence of the Daniel Gerber family, who started Gerber Baby Food Products in 1928. With a park-like setting, the Gerber Guest House boasts a large terrace and deck overlooking a beautiful garden and fountain. The residence originally consisted of two separate homes, which were converted into the Gerber Guest House in 1955 when the family moved to a larger home on Fremont Lake. The Guest House was used to house Gerber Employees and those visiting the Gerber Baby Food Plant before opening to the public as a Bed & Breakfast.

Goldberry Woods is Harbor Country's premier Farm-to-Table Bed & Breakfast. Beautiful homemade breakfasts and evening snacks feature local and organic ingredients grown right on property. Their eight newly renovated rooms and suites feature artisan-built wooden queen beds, double Jacuzzi tubs, fireplaces, and private decks. Set on 28 acres of woods, trails, orchards, vegetable, & fruit fields, Goldberry Woods is also less than a mile away from Lake Michigan. Get up early one morning to help gather greens and fruit from the fields for a fresher-than-fresh breakfast, and then spend the day biking to the beach, exploring the back roads, borrowing a canoe or kayak from the B&B, or step out onto one of many trails through the woods and along the Galien River.

Relax in the luxury of an elegant country vineyard estate at Grey Hare Inn Vineyard Bed & Breakfast when you visit Old Mission Peninsula. The inn’s gourmet Northern Michigan fusion with Tuscan/Provence breakfasts gets guests ready for a day of Traverse City adventures, and its wine-related cuisine is a gourmet prelude to wine tasting at nearby Old Mission Peninsula wineries. All accommodations offer a private bath and queen-size bed, as well as European-styled decor and expansive views of the bay, orchards, and vineyards. You’ll awaken to a full gourmet breakfast, and then settle in by the limestone fireplace, or head out past the trellised stone patio to begin your day.

The Henderson Castle Bed & Breakfast and Winery is truly a jewel in Kalamazoo. Built in 1895, the Henderson Castle boasts ten guest rooms, seven baths (one with a thirteen-head shower), an elevator, a third-floor ballroom, and a hot tub on the roof. The castle was built with 25 rooms in all, and exemplified the most expensive tastes of the time. The Henderson Castle is now owned by Master Chef Francois Moyet, and operates as a full bed and breakfast with a French restaurant, organic garden, vineyard and day spa. Indulge in the Royal Tasting Menu, and sample the world’s most prized delicacies in one meal, or choose from an eleven, seven, or four course dinner. Stop by the spa to enjoy a couple’s massage, facials, manicures, and more. Wind down your evening by sampling a flight of Henderson Castle’s own Estate Label Wine.

Tucked away on 60 acres of quiet Michigan pines in Charlevoix, the Horton Creek Inn Bed and Breakfast brings you the best of northern Michigan, including strolling the gardens, viewing the ponds, walking the trails, or relaxing by the pool. The peaceful quiet you will experience here will make it hard for you to leave. Choose from seven Up-North themed guest rooms, each with hand made queen beds, desk or table and comfy chair. You’ll find the full breakfast they serve in their four-seasons sunroom satisfying in every way; both the food and view are more than you could ask for. Their gardens have been featured in the "Birds & Blooms" and "Traverse" Magazines. Your hosts are David and Jeannie Babbitt, who traveled looking for the perfect place to open their B&B, and were eventually drawn back to their home state of Michigan.

J. Paule’s Fenn Inn in Fennville is a perfect destination for Southern Michigan relaxation and fun. They have been providing lodging accommodations in the Fennville/Saugatuck area since 1986, with visitors from the world over. The inn offers a quiet country setting on two acres, featuring lots of flower gardens with ample seating. Visit the outdoor fire pit or soak up the sun on the large second floor deck. Ms. Paulette is your hostess when you stay in one of their five guest rooms. Enjoy a full sit-down breakfast each morning, as well as a dessert table that’s stocked all day long, and the option of reserving a private dinner for just you and your special someone.

The Last Resort Bed & Breakfast should really be one of the first places you consider staying when visiting the beach town of South Haven! It is the closest B&B to the beach, located just half a block away, as well as within easy walking distance of the downtown area. Built in 1883 by Civil War Captain Barney Dyckman,The Last Resort Inn was actually South Haven’s first. Originally named “Park Grove Place,” the building was used for weekend dinners, followed by large poker nights. The inn was closed and abandoned for twenty years until in 1979 the current innkeeper, Mary Hammer, purchased the building and began the four years of renovations. Mary & her husband Alberto still run the inn, and have developed it into a wonderful mix of the traditional and the contemporary.

The National House Inn Bed & Breakfast on Marshall’s picturesque Fountain Circle is the oldest operating hotel in the State of Michigan. Built in 1835, the inn was believed to be a stop on the Underground Railroad, and has served as an inn, factory, and apartments throughout its almost 180 year history. Having fallen into disrepair by 1976, the inn was restored as a generous bicentennial gift to the community by a team of four dedicated restorationists. You’ll find the current innkeeper Barbara Bradley in the garden when you visit, and you’ll have your pick of 16 guest rooms offering today’s luxuries along with the same gracious hospitality that welcomed those first stagecoach travelers so many years ago. You’ll enjoy a home-cooked breakfast each morning, freshly popped popcorn each evening, and countless simple pleasures and charms reflecting a simpler time.

The Oviatt House is your key to Traverse City, located within walking distance of downtown and a family-friendly beach complete with volleyball nets, a waterpark for the little ones, and access to the refreshing waters of Grand Traverse Bay. Built in 1900, all of the old woodwork and wooden floors have been preserved over the years in this beautiful centennial home. Franny and Ken Bluhm are your hosts, and are working to restore all of the house to its original classic style. A full, hearty breakfast is included, made with local, fresh, organic foods. The Oviatt House is committed to “Green” practices, including using local products, recycling, and using natural, non-toxic cleaning products.

Sherwood Forest Bed & Breakfast is your key to the best of what Saugatuck has to offer. The beautiful Victorian home offers two suites for rent, one a replica of the interior of a log cabin, and the other decorated in the flair of the late 19th century, as well a three additional guest rooms. The hardwood floors, leaded-glass windows, and wraparound porch add to the ideal wooded setting. Each morning breakfast is served in the dining room or on the gracious porch. Spend your time swimming in the heated pool in the summer, cross country skiing in winter, or exploring the charming shops in Saugatuck and Douglas year-round. Enhance your stay with a private cooking class with a top chef to learn recipes ranging from Northern Italian to Southeast Asian to Traditional Mexican. Explore the culinary offerings of the area by booking a stay that includes a trip with Hungry Village Tours, who will lead you on a walking or driving tour of the area to experience the best in the local culinary scene.

The Sylvan Inn Bed & Breakfast welcomes you to Glen Arbor, located just steps away from the beach, galleries, restaurants, and boutique shops. Surrounded by the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Park, and 38 miles of spectacular beaches, you’ll find breathtaking views at every turn. The Sylvan Inn was established in 1885 and provided room and board for countless lumbermen and mariners. Throughout the years, this lovely building has remained true to its purpose to relax, refresh, and care for the many working and weary folk, travelers, visitors, and seasonally returning friends. You can enjoy the same gracious country charm today that has welcomed guests for over 100 years. An addition was completed in 1987 that offers a sauna and hot tub overlooking the tree-filled yard.

The White Rabbit Inn is a small eight room bed and breakfast located in the lovely little village of Lakeside, only 90 minutes from the hustle and bustle of downtown Chicago, or less than 3-1/2 hours from Detroit or Indianapolis. The Inn is only a few blocks from the nearest public beach access, and Warren Dunes State Park is less than five miles away. This property was once a little hotel, and traces of the Inn's previous life still live on in that each room has its own private, ground-level entrance. Their specialty is the romantic getaway. "We have a 100% success rate when it comes to popping the ol' question," according to your host A.J. Breakfast is served in the Lodge, an airy building with large picture windows overlooking the woods. Enjoy our "hearty and homemade" continental buffet while watching for deer, colorful wild birds or our favorite pair of chipmunks.

Additional Bed & Breakfast Information Links:

Friday, August 22, 2014

West Michigan Weekend Round-Up: August 22-24

From wrapping up Grand Rapids Restaurant Week, to Alexander Zonjic's Shoreline Jazz Fest in Muskegon, to a Fudge Festival on Mackinac Island, you're going to wish this weekend was longer to fit in all the great things you can do in West Michigan!

For a complete calendar of upcoming events, please visit our online event calendar.

Friday, August 22

Grand Rapids 
Mackinac Island 

Saturday, August 23

Grand Haven 
Grand Rapids 
Mackinac Island 

Sunday, August 24

Mackinac Island 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Pine River Paddlesports: More Than Meets the Eye!

My husband and I were looking to head north (from Grand Rapids) this summer and find somewhere that we could camp, kayak, and enjoy the great outdoors. We ended up heading to the Pine River Paddlesports Center in Wellston, MI, and found everything we were looking for and more.
The Pine River, just 1/4 mile hike from the campground.
Pine River Paddlesports Center is located in the heart of Michigan's Huron-Manistee National Forest, right off the banks of the Pine River (hiking the 1/4 mile trail from the campsites will get you there. They rent canoes, kayaks, rubber rafts and tubes on both the Pine River and the nearby Big Manistee River. They also boast a wonderfully-wooded campground, providing campsites with privacy and a real chance to enjoy the beauty of the National Forest.

 The campground offers 38 family sites (limited to six people per site), and six group sites, which can accommodate groups of 7 to 40 campers! The sites are spaced out from one another to allow for privacy, but none of them are located so far away that you'll dread that middle of the night walk to the bath house! The campground rules here include a "24 Hour Quiet Policy," which means noises should be kept at a level that doesn't carry out of your campsite.Their rules about noise are strictly enforced so their guests can enjoy the peace and quiet of the forest. We didn't find this policy to be a hindrance at all, and it really did allow for soaking in the beauty of the forest & nature that surrounded us. It lent itself to a very peaceful, relaxing camping experience.
 We stayed at a family site (#19), and had plenty of room for our tent, kayak trailer, and car. The site came equipped with a picnic table, large sealing garbage can, lantern hook, and fire pit with built in cooking grate. We absolutely loved the cooking grate, and used it for most of our meals! After all, everything tastes better when cooked outdoors over an open fire! One of our favorite new meals that we cooked over the fire was Apple Cinnamon French Toast, which is made from hamburger buns, so it worked great with leftover buns from dinner the night before! Another tip for this recipe is to crack the eggs & mix them with the milk at home, so you can store them in a plastic bag and toss that into your cooler, instead of worrying about not cracking eggs as you pack, load, and dig through the cooler once you're set up at camp.
Apple Cinnamon French Toast & Sausages for breakfast!
With both the Pine River & the Big Manistee River nearby, we did some research before our trip to figure out which trip we'd like to take our kayaks on. It turns out that in order to protect the river, all boaters on the Pine River are required to get a permit specific to the day they will be on the river from the USDA Forest Service, and they had all already been requested on the day we were planning our trip. That left the Big Manistee River! We took a look at some of the routes on Pine River Paddlesports Center's website, and picked out a couple that looked like they might be a good afternoon trip.
Mark helping us plan our kayak trip on the Big Manistee River.
On Saturday, we chatted with Mark (one of the owners of the campground) about our proposed kayak trip on the Big Manistee River. He had some great suggestions for us, and walked us through multiple maps to make sure we knew how to get there, where to stage our car, and even some cool things on the river to keep an eye out for. We loaded the kayaks up, put some sunscreen on, and detoured by the Dublin General Store to stock up on provisions for the river. If you've ever been to the Dublin General Store, I'm sure you already guessed what we stocked up on: jerky. There's a good reason they call this "The Jerky Place!" With over 60 varieties of jerky to choose from, we did quite a bit of sampling before settling on a package of Double Smoked Beef for our trip. I'm typically not much of a jerky fan, but this was delicious! The jerky here is far and away better than the pre-packaged variety that's designed to sit on a store shelf for months without going bad. This is the real stuff!
Luckily they let you try samples, otherwise it would be impossible to decide!
 We finally made it to our put in location of Hodenpyle Dam, which got us into the river just after the dam. You're able to paddle back up a bit to check the dam out, but there's lots of signs warning you to keep your ears open for warning sirens in case you need to clear the area in a hurry! Our destination was Red Bridge, which is about a four hour float this time of year. The river does lots of meandering back and forth along this stretch, which gives you great views of the forest, the many islands, the campers along the banks, and even parts of the North Country Trail. We did a good mixture of floating & paddling on our way down the river, and got there about three and a half hours after we set out. It was a gorgeous trip, and I'd imagine it would be stunning in the fall as the leaves begin to change. There were a few bits of the trip that kept you on your toes, such as sharp banks and little, quick rapid-like sections, and lots of other parts where you could casually float along. Pine River Paddlesports Center will take care of all your transportation to & from the river (as well as your boat's) if you rent through them, and they also have the option of simply providing the transportation if you're bringing your own watercraft along.
Hodenpyle Dam, where we put in.
 Back at the campground, we entertained ourselves for a while on their disc golf course, which is really two courses in one (a traditional course, and an around-the-world challenge). They also have a rock-climbing wall on site, which looked like it would be a great challenge! Then it was back to the campsite to build a fire and end the night in the only correct way you can while camping: by making s'mores. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Spirit of Michigan Distilleries

Black Star Farms

Michigan’s craft distilling industry is growing at a rapid pace – ranking #4 in the nation in terms of overall number of distilleries (behind California, Oregon and Washington). To help unify the interests of the more than two dozen artisan distilleries, the Michigan Craft Distillers Association was formed earlier this summer to bring a voice to the industry.

Located just ten minutes north of Alpine and I-96 in Sparta inside Cellar Brewing Company, Bier Barrel Distillery is easy to find and provides their guests with a relaxed, casual atmosphere that you don’t find at many distilleries today. The distillation equipment is on display in a glass room, and if you come at the right time you can watch the still in action. They offer a full bar featuring cocktails and spirits (whiskey, rum, vodka, gin, and moonshine) that are brewed, fermented, and distilled right there at Kent County's only operating distillery. The food menu features paninis, wraps, specialty hot dogs, and assorted appetizers. Various entertainment is featured throughout the week, including trivia, karaoke, open mic, and live bands.

Black Star Farms operates locations in Suttons Bay, Old Mission Peninsula and at The Village at Grand Traverse Commons just a few blocks southwest of downtown Traverse City (the former Northern Michigan Asylum). In addition to its world-class wines, Black Star offers a handful of fruit brandies (pear, plum, cherry, apricot), grappa and eau de vies. The most recognizable product in its portfolio is “Pear and its Spirit,” which features a full Bartlett pear which is grown inside the bottle, and then filled full of brandy for a decadent presentation (and memorable flavor).

Chateau Chantal is perched atop a high bluff on Old Mission Peninsula, just minutes from downtown Traverse City. The Cerise Cherry Port-Style Dessert Wine is a 2014 Tasters Guild International Wine Competition “Gold Medal” winner, a perfect complement to chocolate. The limited-edition Cerise Noir Port-Style Dessert Wine begins with partially-fermented Merlot and Pinot Meunier grapes, infused with cherry brandy for a silky, rich taste. The Entice Ice Wine Brandy is a luscious wine made from frozen grapes, fortified with grape oak-aged brandy for extra body and richness.

Coppercraft Distillery
Coppercraft Distillery is a Holland-based producer of quality spirits, with a focus on local ingredients. Recently awarded a “Gold Medal” for its vodka by, this 9000-squarefoot distillery and 50-seat tasting room is one of the newest operations in Michigan. Visitors are invited to sample products, as well as enjoy hand-crafted cocktails with juices and other mixes made in-house. In addition to its current spirits offerings of gin, rum, vodka and citrus-flavored vodka, Coppercraft is also producing and aging bourbon, whiskey and brandy, set for release later this year.

Flat Landers Barstillery near downtown Grand Rapids is also a new operation, as of 2014. As a producer of premium, certified-organic spirits, the name comes from the association of poking fun at folks that don’t live in the hills – with the owners’ Northern Michigan kin commonly referring to those ‘down state’ as Flat Landers. With attention to local—specifically Michigan’s amazing fresh-water source, this distillery uses certified organic grains, fruits and fine craftsmanship in the microbrew-distilling business to yield great premium products. Visitors will enjoy the area’s only moonshine drinks: Flat Landers AppleShine—a blend of White Whisky, Michigan apple cider and shaved cinnamon, house bitters and a few other secret ingredients. 
Grand Traverse Distillery

Grand Traverse Distillery has tasting rooms in Traverse City (near the airport and in The Village at Grand Traverse Commons) as well as Leland’s Historic Fishtown and Frankenmuth. A new downtown TC tasting room will open yet this year on Front Street. Offering a wide selection of award-winning whiskey, gin, vodka and coming soon—rum, this distillery also offers public tours of its main location for $10 per person. Among its many accolades and awards, Grand Traverse Distillery’s Bourbon was among 27 contenders evaluated for the distinguished “Best Bourbon” awards for 2014 by, receiving a Gold Medal. The Peninsula Gin, True North Vodka, Wheat Vodka, Cherry Vodka and “Ole George” Rye Whiskey are all also medal winners in various national competitions.

Journeyman Distillery
Journeyman Distillery is housed in the historic Featherbone Factory in Three Oaks, in an area affectionately referred to as Harbor Country, (in Berrien County, Southwest Michigan). With a focus on whiskey, these hand-crafted artisan spirits also include gin, vodka and rum, as well as specialized products like Humdinger Jalapeno Spirit, OCG (Old Country Goodness) and Snaggle Tooth Coffee Liqueur. The “Traveling Barrel Program” (with a six month, one year or two year “journey”) gives consumers an opportunity to pick out their very own personalized barrel (5, 15 or 30 gallon, respectively) which is filled with Silver Cross Whiskey (or Ravenswood Rye, Buggy Whip Wheat or Featherbone Bourbon for the one or two year options) and aged appropriately and then bottled (2, 4 or 6, respectively) for take-home consumption. 

Long Road Distillers, based in Grand Rapids, takes full advantage of West Michigan’s rich agricultural heritage by sourcing grain and fruit from local growers. Long Road vodkas, gins and whiskies will be made 100% in-house at its Leonard Street location (just north of downtown GR), from milling all the way to final distillation. Look for them to open their doors for sampling this fall.
Art of the Cocktail

New Holland Brewing Company & Artisan Spirits is one of Michigan’s most noted breweries, but is also one of the state’s distilling pioneers. Clockwork Orange Liqueur is the newest offering in the portfolio, joining award-winning gin, rum, vodka, the noted Hatter Royale hopped whiskey, and the Beer Barrel Bourbon malted whiskey (90 proof). Small barrels accentuate and accelerate the barrel-aging process, turning this smooth brewers’ wash into whiskey, with barrel-character well beyond its years. Each fall, New Holland hosts an “Art of the Cocktail” competition during Grand Rapids’ annual ArtPrize – encouraging local bartenders to get creative with its various products and other Michigan ingredients to create a signature cocktail, judged by local celebrities.

Northern Latitudes Distillery tempts visitors with a variety of unique offerings, including their signature Ice Dunes Vodka, made from 100% Michigan grains, to a luscious limoncello aptly named Limoncello di Leelanau. The owners Mark & Mandy Moseler are always experimenting to find the next addition to their line of spirits. Visit their tasting room for free samples seven days a week, and buy a bottle of your favorite to take home, or have it mixed into an incredible cocktail for you to enjoy right at the bar. Located in the busy M-204 corridor between Suttons Bay and Leland, less than 30 minutes from Traverse City, Northern Latitudes Distillery is happy to give a "Latitude Adjustment" to anyone who stops in.
Northern Latitudes Distillery

Round Barn began as a winery, but soon added craft beer and distilled artisan spirits to its repertoire. Vodka, rum and bourbon—each hand-crafted, one bottle at a time—can be sampled in DiVine cocktails in the new Round Barn Winery & Public House, in downtown Baroda. You can also find fruit brandies which are a bold yet delicate offering made from wine grapes or other fruits. One ton of fruit yields about 150 gallons of wine, which when distilled produces roughly 20 gallons of high proof (140) brandy, which means attention to details is paid every step along the way of the process.

Sanctuary Spirits Artisan Distillery is located in the center of the state in Grand Ledge, not far from Michigan’s capital city. Located in an old church, they current produce three fruit brandies, a vodka made from Michigan cherries, a white rum, a gin made with seven botanicals and its flagship product—Spirit of the Maple, an oak-aged maple syrup spirit. With whiskey aging in barrels, they’re now focusing on fun new products and infusions to serve in the tasting room.

St. Julian Winery in Paw Paw is not only Michigan’s oldest winery, but it has been producing distilled spirits longer than any current operation in the state. A&G Brandy (80 proof) is aged from Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Vidal Blanc grapes, with an aroma of vanilla, hazelnut and butterscotch intertwined with toast, chocolate and anise. Cream d’Or is a well-aged sherry that’s flavored with 100% pure almond oil, then fortified with St. Julian’s Brandy for a light Amaretto flavor. Grey Heron Vodka (80 proof) is made with 100% grape spirits, distilled and filtered five times to achieve its smooth texture and rich palate. St. Julian operates tasting rooms around the state, including Frankenmuth, Dundee and Union Pier.

Many of Michigan’s distilled spirits are available for sampling this November at the Grand Rapids International Wine, Beer & Food Festival (Nov. 20-22) at DeVos Place, downtown.

Article by Dianna Stampfler. Dianna Stampfler is the executive director of the newly formed Michigan Craft Distillers Association and president of Promote Michigan.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Antique & Awesome: Saugatuck Antique Pavilion

If you're a lover of rare oddities, collectibles, or simply love finding new treasures, make sure you stop by the Saugatuck Antique Pavilion next time you're in the area!
 Located right off of the Blue Star Highway leading into the city of Saugatuck and adjacent to the Saugatuck Brewing Company, the Saugatuck Antique Pavilion is positioned perfectly to stop and spend an afternoon at. And with more than 150 antique dealers displaying their wares, you'll need at least an afternoon to soak it all in!
The antique pavilion invites dealers to set up their own booth space within the pavilion, which means that there's a different "shop" every 10 feet or so as you walk down the aisles, each filled with different (and sometime surprising!) items.
Whether you’re a seasoned collector of primitives, antique furniture, retro, 50s Herman Miller, Depression glass, Roseville, or McCoy, you’ll find something at their mall. Or perhaps you’re decorating in Mid-century modern retro from the 1950s to 70s, or prefer the primitive appeal of the Appalachians - you’ll find lots of wonderful inventory here!
The Saugatuck Antique Pavilion has the unusual, unique and hard to find, as well as the more common antiques and collectibles, such as vintage jewelry and clothing, tin litho toys, Fire King, Pyrex, and Civil War era collectibles.
Maybe you have antiques of your own that you're looking to sell. You're able to rent your own space at the Saugatuck Antique Pavilion by the month, and set up your own miniature storefront! You take care of supplying & labeling the inventory, and they'll take care of the selling, security, and everything else! They'll even provide you with a daily report of what's been sold.
What's been your best antique find? Tell us about it in the comments!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

West Michigan Weekend Round-Up: August 8-10

From a Rodeo at the Double JJ Resort to a production of "Monty Python's Spamalot" in Grand Rapids, not to mention the Michigan Paranormal Convention and Unity Christian Music Festival, it's going to be a busy weekend in West Michigan.

Friday, August  

East Lansing 
Grand Haven 
Grand Rapids 
Sleeping Bear Dunes Area 

Saturday, August 9

Battle Creek 
Sleeping Bear Dunes Area 
Traverse City 

Sunday, August 10

Battle Creek 
East Lansing 
Traverse City