It’s 5 o’clock somewhere, so you might as well celebrate right here in Southwest Michigan. Whether you’re looking for a spot to unwind after work or a space to gather with friends, the plethora of wineries, breweries, and taprooms in our area offer a wide variety of tasty beverages and fun environments to enjoy all week long. In this final installment of our five-part series celebrating Restaurant Month in Berrien County, we’re featuring liquid options for drinking local.
Our Restaurant Month beverage special is brought to you by Local Pour, a “tasting room with a twist” located on Red Arrow Highway in Sawyer. In the heart of Harbor Country, Local Pour offers a unique take on the traditional tasting room concept. Instead of sampling from a single brewery, winery, or distillery, guests can sample a variety of local wines, beers, ciders, and spirits from the best Michigan makers all under one roof. Made possible by partnerships with local makers, the ever-changing menu allows guests to take their taste buds on a tour of regional favorites. Owners Chalet Sturgeon and Jayme Neumann are passionate advocates for locally produced beverages, and invite their guests to “taste, learn, and laugh while celebrating Michigan’s spirited bounty.” This month’s menu includes The Conjurer from North Pier Brewing Company in Benton Harbor, Cabernet Franc Reserve from White Pine Winery in St. Joseph, Uncle Judd Cider from Chill Hill in Baroda, and many more. If you like to pair your tasting with a little learning, stop by Local Pour on the third Wednesday of every month (5:30-7:00pm) for Wine Education Wednesdays or check out their events page for live music on the weekend.
As the weather warms up, North Pier Brewing Company offers a cool place to hang out with friends and enjoy their rotating list of hand-crafted beers. Order at the bar and grab a seat in the taproom or enjoy the evening air in the outdoor beer garden. Located just two miles from Lake Michigan in Benton Harbor, North Pier offers a range of brews from IPAs to Belgian Ales and their menu even includes cider, wine, and cocktails. And, if you come hungry, try their Artisan Tacos or El Cubano Sandwich.
For a one-of-a-kind hard cider drinking experience, Peat’s Cider Social is the place to be. In creating this taproom within a 1960s bowling alley, the Peat and Cosner families (co-owners) wanted to create “a space where people can drink Michigan-made hard cider, the way it was meant to be enjoyed – with local ingredients, surrounded by your people.” Serving up Peat’s Original Cider from the family-owned farm in Paw Paw, the taproom in Stevensville is made for gathering. Guests can order The Huntsman, The Sneaky Snacker, The Evergreen Overcoat, and many more varieties before lacing up their bowling shoes and enjoying a round with friends.
With the motto of “Combining Artistry and Chemistry,” how could you not check out Tapistry Brewing? Located in downtown Bridgman, their taproom features 20 taps as well as an artisan menu and an outdoor beer garden for sipping and dining al fresco. Try a Peck’s Porter (English porter), Mr. Orange (wheat beer), or Bourbon Kilting Me Softly (Scotch Ale) on your next trip and pair it with Wasabi Pork Tacos or a Brewben Sandwich. With a goal of creating excellent craft beer, Tapestry Brewing creates its beverages with “purpose, conviction, and the highest quality ingredients available.” And in a region known for its high-quality beverages, it’s a must-stop on any brewery bucket list.
You can’t get more homegrown than Lazy Ballerina Winery, owned and operated by cousins Melanie Hayes and Lauren Kniebes. The pair grew up taking small sips of their Grandma Nita’s homemade Niagara and Concord wines made from grapes grown on the family farm in Coloma, and that early interest sparked a lifelong passion for the wine industry. With tasting rooms in St. Joseph (new location opens Friday, April 1st!) and Bridgman, guests can enjoy the award-winning 2020 Attitude Rose’ or local vintage favorite Barrel Rouge, a Cabernet Sauvignon aged for 60 days in bourbon barrels from Journeyman Distillery. The tasting rooms offer a whimsical environment (with tutus on the chairs, need I say more?), encouraging guests to sip, savor, and enjoy at Southwest Michigan’s only women-owned winery. Supporting local is important to Kniebes who says, “Local wineries and breweries source grapes, fruit, and hops from right here in Southwest Michigan to produce their products—so when you drink local you’re supporting local farmers, local business owners and local community members employed by the business.”
For additional breweries, wineries, taprooms, and distilleries in Berrien County, check out our full Chamber member directory of beverage locations at SMRChamber.com and map out your plan to drink local for Restaurant Month!
About the Writer: Stacey Martin is a local author and freelance writer with a passion for promoting Southwest Michigan. Take writing off your to-do list and inquire about content creation for your business at staceymartinwrites.com.