Let’s be honest. Making the decision to host an event that involves drinking wine whilst riding a bike has less to do with adrenaline rushes and more to do with 1-ounce pours. And I’m OK with that. Not every adventure needs to challenge our endurance muscles, though this one did, at times, given some of the hills we encountered in Southwest Michigan’s wine country. Some adventures are best had meeting people for the first time and hoping they’ll trust you know what you’re doing (for the first time). South Bend Adventure Club was initially started to get people together (yeah, yeah, yeah) and get outside. And that pretty much works. Every time.
What else works? Being excited about it. I’ve wanted to do a trip like this for a few years, so I had a certain amount of hype for it. Plus, I’m all for getting off your bum (or your couch, at least) and biking some back roads. It means getting outside, sweating a wee bit and capturing some late summer air in your lungs. I’m also all for wine tasting. That meant eating ahead of time, hydrating often and psyching myself up for all the purchased wine I promised to tow in my 2 panniers. By the end of our roughly 12-mile bike tour, I was lugging 7 bottles of wine, a few wine glasses and I’m pretty sure some invisible gnome was catching a free ride. My legs had leveled up; tour de Michigan was on!
For the 8 of us that went, our tasting palates were diverse but we curiously inspected and shared each others flights. There are a few reds, I admit, that impressed me. The Riesling lover in me doesn’t veer far from that grape varietal but Michigan is doing good things with wine. I was also impressed that nobody (NOBODY) complained about the length of our bike ride, time spent at each winery or the hills we encountered (because I did not check elevation before creating this route). That made this event 100 times sweeter.
Post ride, we feasted and filled our bellies at Red Barn’s Pub House and Brewery. Fantastic food and an incredible beer flight value ($12/5 6-ounce pours, I believe). Most of the crew had to head back to South Bend, but a few of us ventured down to Round Barn’s estate and caught some live music, a part of the winery’s Jammin’ in the Vineyard Concert Series. You can see a full 2015 schedule here.
Give it a go:
The route: Begin at the Round Barn Brewery in Baroda, MI. Head north on First Street. Head east (out of town) on Lemon Creek Road. Approach *Lemon Creek Winery ($8/5 tastes) and Domaine Berrien Cellars($10/5 tastes)* Continue on Lemon Creek. Head south on Burgoyne Road. Approach *Free Run Winery($8/5 tastes)* Continue on Burgoyne. Head west on Snow Road. Head north on Lauer Road. Approach *Gravity($11/5 tastes w/ cheese/crackers. NO souvenir glass)* Continue on Lauer. Head west on Shawnee Road. Head north (back into town) on Hills Road. At First Street, turn left (south/east) and return to Red Barn Brewery.