Art and wine have long been a natural pairing.
“There’s just something about the finer things in life,” said Juli Petter, owner of J. Petter Galleries, the namesake of the combined Petter Art Gallery and Petter Wine Gallery in the lakeside town of Douglas. The southwest Michigan city and its close neighbor Saugatuck are annual summer destinations for many art lovers. Petter Art Gallery has long been a staple of the region’s cultural landscape.
Joyce Petter, Juli’s mother-in-law, brought her gallery to the bright blue building in 1993. It has since become known as an eclectic collection of fine art, including sculpture, glass and paintings. Two decades later, eager to broaden the gallery experience, Petter opened the wine and small plates bar, giving art lovers a new medium to enjoy during their visit.
“It’s the perfect place to have a polite glass of wine,” Juli said. “You’re paying attention to the flavor, the nuances, and allowing yourself to be fully immersed in what you’re tasting. There’s something beautiful about the presentation of wine — the glass, the color, the story of the wine itself and you’re able to think of all that.
“It’s all the same things you think about when you’re looking at a piece of art.”
Juli considers wine to be its own art form. A large section on the main floor of the 12,500-square-foot, two-story gallery was transformed to showcase handpicked selections of old and new world wines, as well as a private collection of unique cheeses and hand-poured chocolates.
“We display (the bottles) as art, we talk about them like art,” Juli said of the hundreds of bottles showcased in the gallery space. Two bottle rooms — one exclusively filled with Michigan wines — are lined with handcrafted and unique bottles from vineyards all over the world, and visitors can select a bottle to enjoy in the tasting room or while strolling through the gallery.
“Wine and art have long gone hand in hand, and the combined galleries are like having an artist opening every day,” Juli said. The wine bar offers a rotating selection of fine wines with careful attention paid to small production offerings, unique varietals and great local options, all of which can be paired with artisan cheeses, fine jams, spreads and chocolates, all available for purchase in the gallery.
“Wine and art have long gone hand in hand, and the combined galleries are like having an artist opening every day.”
— Juli Petter
The curated wine selection allows visitors to taste exceptional small-yield Michigan wines alongside the French or California comparable.
“We pair them side by side, so you can try a wine from each region, all from the same grape,” Juli said. “It allows people to see that our regional offerings are as good as the finest wines in the world.”
Many people don’t know what’s going on in the Michigan wine world, she said, so the gallery also brings in winemakers who present their wines and allow sampling.
“We have such fine craftsman here, people who have studied with ancient wineries, who have learned the art from the Old World. We bring them in, right in the gallery, surrounded by their beautiful art right on the table and they’re able to present it as their craft … It’s truly an art form.” Juli said.
161 N. Blue Star Highway
Douglas, Michigan 49406
Alexandra Fluegel is a freelance writer living in Hamtramck. She enjoys writing about food, homes, arts and culture.