Picturesque Paw Paw, Michigan, is nestled in a fruit-growing region that yields just as much wine, brandy and vodka as it does year-round orchard scenery and heritage sites. The area's understated attractions, though enjoyed by residents year-round, can be something of a treasure hunt. Find them, and you'll see Michigan in a whole new light.
St. Julian Winery
The centerpiece of Paw Paw's heritage lies with the St. Julian Winery (stjulian.com), the largest and most awarded among several established wineries in the area. The summer season at the winery starts on June 1, which is when the fun begins. St. Julian regularly holds tastings during the day and at special events, such as Ladies Night Out and Wine & Cheese Pairing Class. The winery is also a regular sponsor of the annual Wine and Harvest Festival.
Paw Paw Wine and Harvest Festival
The Paw Paw Wine and Harvest Festival, which runs for four days, is the biggest event in Van Buren County. As the name suggests, the festival is a celebration of the area's biggest commodity, wine, but the event calendar is packed with activities for the whole family. While adults sample the newest offerings from the local wineries, for instance, kids can participate in the Kiwanis Turtle Derby. Other attractions include the Classic Car Show, which usually draws about 100 vehicles, a carnival midway, live music, evening fireworks and an arts and crafts show featuring local artists.
The Kal-Haven Trail
The Kal-Haven Trail stretches from downtown Kalamazoo to downtown South Haven and provides easy access to both cities from Paw Paw. What was once a railroad (in 1870) has now become a wooded trail, perfect for hiking or cycling in summer and snowshoeing, snowmobiling or cross-country skiing in winter. It is autumn, however, that has visitors flocking to the Kal-Haven trail to get the perfect view of the colorful changing leaves.
Warner Vineyards Winery
The second oldest winery in Michigan, Warner Vineyards Winery is housed in a heritage building that dates back to 1898. The winery experience includes free wine and champagne tastings, a self-guided tour of the re-created European Champagne Caves and lunch or dinner at the winery's acclaimed restaurant, Kevin's Tavern on the River. For private celebrations at Warner Vineyards Winery, a Grand Trunk Railroad passenger car has been transformed into a rustically elegant dining and cocktail room.
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