Come along for a relaxing evening of wine tasting at Fenn Valley Vineyards (Fennville, Michigan) on the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail!
The Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail
First, let’s take a minute to chat about the geographical location that makes this tasty wine region all possible in Michigan.
What is the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail?
The Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail is a collection of 15 wineries committed to producing quality wines from grapes grown locally in the Southwestern corner of Michigan.
Lake Michigan’s massive body of freshwater creates a protective climate that makes this area, known as Lake Michigan Shore AVA (American Viticulture Area), ideal for fruit crops.
Which wineries are part of the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail?
Northern Region (Saugatuck to South Haven)
- Fenn Valley Vineyards
- Cogdal Vineyards
Eastern Region (Paw Paw to Kalamazoo)
- St Julian Winery
- Cody Kresta Vineyard & Winery
- Lawton Ridge Winery
Central Region (Coloma to St. Joseph)
- Karma Vista Vineyards & Winery
- Contessa Wine Cellars
- 12 Corners Vineyards
- White Pine Winery
- Lake Michigan Vintners
Southern Region (Stevensville to Union Pier)
- Baroda Founders Wine Cellar
- Chill Hill Winery
- Lemon Creek Winery
- Domaine Berrien Cellars
- Hickory Creek Winery
Wine Tasting at Fenn Valley Vineyards
It’s been ages since my mom and I have gone out just the two of us, so going wine tasting together made the perfect summer activity.
With so many amazing options on the Lake Michigan Wine Shore Trail, we choose to go to Fenn Valley Vineyards in Fennville.
We went on a Friday evening, which ended up being a great time for a quieter wine tasting experience. If you are looking for a livelier visit, go on a Saturday or Sunday or check out one of the many special events at Fenn Valley.
Reservable Wine Tasting Experiences
Beforehand, we considered the different options Fenn Valley offers for wine tasting experiences.
Fenn Valley provides an in-depth tour of the facilities and an explanation of the wine-making progress on their Extended Tour. These tours cost $20 a person and take about 1 hour and 45 minutes.
The Extended Tour sounded interesting but wasn’t available on a Friday evening, so we opted for the regular Reserved Wine Tasting.
For a shorter wine tasting experience, the Reserved Wine Tasting is $10 a person and takes about 45 minutes. With larger groups of up to 20 people, you can also reserve a private wine tasting party as well.
Exploring the Vineyards
We arrived a little early for our 5:30 pm tasting, so we explored Fenn Valley’s beautiful outdoor vineyards first.
As a popular winery that is well-equipped for larger events, there are several lovely places to walk around and enjoy food and drink outdoors.
I checked with a staff member first and she assured us that we were welcome to walk around the vineyards. Fenn Valley has 240 acres of rolling farmland, so there is plenty of room to roam.
In early July, the grapes were starting to get plump, but they still have more time to grow and ripen before harvest time in the fall.
Indoor or Outdoor Wine Tasting
For the reserved wine tasting experience, you can choose to have a guided tasting or a flighted tasting. With the guided tasting, wines are served one at a time at the indoor tasting bar. With the flighted tasting, wines are served all at once either indoors or outdoors.
We went with the flighted tasting option so that we could enjoy our wine samples outdoors.
Fenn Valley provides 7 different samples for the tasting. To help us choose our 7 samples, a knowledgeable Fenn Valley associate named Kim talked us through our wide variety of wine and cider options. He was very helpful with answering any questions and making recommendations based on our personal preferences (mostly sweeter white wines for me).
The Wines and Hard Ciders
Now, for the best part, the taste testing!
Here’s a run-down of the wines and ciders I sampled and my amateur reviews of them:
1. Bubbling Demi-Sec
- Category: Sparkling wine
- Description “Our sweetest sparking”
Delicious, light, and bubbly. My second favorite sample of the evening.
2. Muscat Ottonel
- Category: Dry white wines
- Description: “Fragrant & food friendly”
Easily the most aromatic of the wines I tasted, with a lovely floral scent. Kim confided in us that the Muscat Ottonel has notes of orange blossom with a violet aftertaste. A great option if you like a dry wine.
- Category: Dry Reds & Rose Wines
- Description: “Big, soft easy drinking wine”
Kim shared that the Capriccio is Fenn Valley’s most popular wine, so I had to give this one a try. If you like red wine, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the Capriccio.
4. Sweet Riesling
- Category: Semi-dry White Wines
- Description: “Fragrant & crisp”
Classic sweet, white wine that goes down easily. Highly enjoyed the Sweet Riesling.
5. Briarwood Rose
- Category: Sweetened Wines
- Description: “Sweeter version of the LS Sunset”
The Briarwood Rose will definitely satisfy a sweet tooth. I would drink this wine again, but it was almost a touch too sweet for me.
6. Raspberry Wine
- Category: Specialty Wines
- Description: “A taste of fresh raspberries”
Deliciously fruity. The wine was tasty, but the raspberry wine slushy was even better. You’ve got to try either a raspberry or peach & honey slushy on a hot summer day.
7. Apple-Cherry Cider
- Category: Hard Apple Ciders
- Description: “Tart and sweet”
An excellent combination of the sweet apple and tart cherry flavor. My favorite sample of the evening.
The Food at Fenn Valley
Depending on when you visit, the Fenn Valley food menu can vary, but the charcuterie board is a mainstay. If the kitchen is open or you attend a special event, there may be additional food options as well.
On the Friday evening we visited, the kitchen had just closed down. We were still able to order a charcuterie board, which was delicious!
Piled high with meats, cheeses, nuts, olives, bread, crackers, jam, and fruit, the charcuterie board made the perfect complement for wine tasting. Very filling too.
Special Events at Fenn Valley Vineyards
Throughout the year, Fenn Valley hosts several different special events including an annual festival, 5k run, concerts, and summer cook-outs.
A few years back, I attended the Fenn Valley Festival which was a lot of fun. We got to tour the vineyard on a tractor ride and enjoyed music, wine, and food vendors. Definitely worth checking out!
Experience the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail
All in all, Fenn Valley Vineyards offers a delightful atmosphere for wine and hard cider tasting. From gorgeous rows of vineyards, outdoor garden seating, and a wide selection of award-winning wines and ciders, Fenn Valley is a must-experience Michigan winery.
And Fenn Valley is only the tip of the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail. I predict that my future (and probably yours as well) will involve tasting our way through the rest of Michigan’s wine coast!