Located in southwest Michigan’s thriving agricultural and viticultural region, Fennville has become a major food and wine destination over the last few years. It was named as the state’s first American Viticultural Area (AVA) back in 1981 and has been producing award-winning wines and ciders ever since.
Farm-to-table isn’t just a trend in Fennville; it’s a way of life. Miles of farms and orchards provide many fresh options for the local farm-to-fork restaurants that make up Fennville’s culinary landscape.
Next time you’re out in Fennville, check out a few of these businesses and their most popular products — and don’t forget to bring your appetite.
In Spanish, Modales means “manners,” and the creative minds behind the winery take them seriously. In 2016, Jim and Carol Gonzalez purchased the vineyard and partnered with viticulturist Todd Robbins and winemaker Andrew Backlin to meticulously craft their wines from start to finish. Respecting the fruit and winemaking process, Modales uses minimal intervention and lets the fruit speak for itself.
The Lamastus is a red Bordeaux blend, which is made of merlot, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc grapes. It’s a local favorite with notes of dried strawberry, black currant and baking spices, and it pairs well with prime rib, lamb chops or mushroom stroganoff.
Fenn Valley Vineyards
Sitting on 240 acres, Fenn Valley is a family-owned and -operated vineyard and winery that has been producing world-class wines for over 40 years. Founder Bill Welsch became bored with running a lumberyard in the suburbs of Chicago and decided to try out farming after experimenting with grapevines in his backyard. He had a dream of running his own farm and winery and purchased the Fennville property in 1973. And the rest is history.
The Capriccio is an award-winning dry red wine that is perfectly balanced with dryness and fruitiness. Pair it with chicken, red meats or pasta.
Crane’s Pie Pantry Restaurant & Winery
Crane’s has been a treasured West Michigan destination for decades. Family-owned and -operated since 1972, Crane’s produces homemade pies that are still made the old-fashioned way from family recipes that have been passed down through generations.
Using local food sources and fresh fruit right off its farm, Crane’s celebrates Fennville’s agritourism industry with its full-menu restaurant and bakery, small-batch wine and hard cider, u-pick orchards and much more.
Crane’s is famous for its pie flights — need we say more? A pie flight serves up of four different kinds of pie and bowl of locally made gelato.
Michigan Wine Co.
Artistry, authenticity and adventure all come together at Michigan Wine Co. Husband-and-wife duo Joe and Erica Krajkiewcz opened their tasting room and winery last summer, which is located less than 100 feet from their vineyard.
As lovers of art and outdoor recreation, the Krajkiewczs’ wines all have an “adventure” pairing on the label — like “disc golf,” “back country camping” and “Christmas parades.”
The Dry Hopped white wine — the first hopped wine ever made in Michigan — has been a hit. It’s made with Seyval blanc grapes and Citra hops, making for a refreshing white wine with citrus aromas.
Salt of the Earth
Salt of the Earth celebrates Fennville’s vibrant community through food, beverage and roots music. A rustic-chic venue, Salt of the Earth is located in downtown Fennville and serves up seasonal, from-scratch American cuisine and baked goods, with a heavy focus on using local and sustainable ingredients. During the fall and winter months, Salt of the Earth is a popular live music venue for emerging Midwestern artists.
The restaurant also prepares a creative selection of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free dishes, offering something for everyone. The Miso Tofu is a fan favorite, made with spring onion, swiss chard, wild mushroom and a parsnip purée. And for dessert, the vegan chocolate mousse is a must-try.
Evergreen Lane Farm & Creamery
Evergreen Lane offers artisan goat and cow’s milk cheeses and an exciting farm experience for the whole family. When visiting the farm, you can pick up everything you need for a picnic, and also see the goats and pigs, and Dash, the horse.
The on-farm creamery crafts a variety of delicious cheeses, including cheddar, fromage blanc, feta and queso fresco. The Poet’s Tomme cheese is pretty popular; it’s an aged cow’s milk cheese that is ‘washed’ with The Poet, an oatmeal stout from New Holland Brewing. The exterior has a malty, yeasty aroma that balances the bright lactic and slightly salty notes of the interior.
And new this year, Evergreen started selling goat cheese curds, and they’ve been flying off the shelves. They’re a delicious, salty snack to enjoy while strolling the farm.
Featured image: Salt of the Earth’s burrata salad
Credit: The Pike/Kelsey Smith