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St. Julian Winery – Paw Paw

March 28, 2010

Billboards.  Some may think they’re ugly and they clutter up America’s highways, but as far as advertising tools go, they work with our family.

A couple years ago, my parents noticed a billboards for Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth and we made the trip east when we lived in Lansing.  J and I were tempted by a billboard for The Chocolate Garden in Coloma, so we stopped for truffles.  This weekend, J’s mom saw a billboard for St. Julian’s Winery and their “Vodka made from grapes,” so after a lunch at Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo, we headed to Paw Paw.

St. Julian Winery is on Kalamazoo Street a few blocks north of the I-94 interchange.  They have tasting rooms spread out around Michigan in Union Pier, Frankenmuth, Dundee, and Parma, but the actual winery is right here in Soutwhest Michigan in Paw Paw.

St. Julian has a beautiful storefront which works as a retail outlet and tasting room.  The parking for the facility is along Commercial Avenue.  There isn’t really a parking lot, but there are angled spots along the side of the building.

When we entered the building, we were met by two employees with wine lists and both asked us if we were interested in a tour.  We eventually decided a tour would be neat.  We were led to a small room that was set up with a television and some chairs so we could watch a short video before starting the tour.

We visited St. Julian on a Friday afternoon, so there weren’t a lot of people on the tour.  There was just the three of us and one other couple.  The tour takes you through the heart of the winery into the barrel rooms, to the bottling line and past the distillers and fermenting vats.  There was no activity since it wasn’t around harvest time.  Our tour guide mentioned that the best times to take the tour are in the fall Monday through  Thursday.  If you’re lucky enough to be there during the harvest, you will actually get to see quite a bit of the process.

After the tour, we headed back into the tasting room. While we were on the tour, quite a few more people showed up and were already sampling some of St. Julian’s best wines.  We grabbed a couple more of the wine lists and started looking over the selections.

I’ve mentioned in the past wine really isn’t my thing.  The tour guide who became our “bartender” picked up on that pretty quickly.  J started looking over the list and picking out wines.  When I was asked what I’d like to try, I just said whatever J was having would be fine for me.

That started out ok when J picked the Simply White.  The next wine she chose was the St. J Merlot.  It was suggested that I should try something else.  The lady pouring our drinks said most guys that aren’t into wine don’t like the Merlot because it’s very dry.  Instead, she suggested Sholom Kosher Wine which is much sweeter.  That was definitely a good choice.  I’m hesitant to admit it, but I actually found the Sholom Kosher Wine to have a really sweet and very good taste to it.  I took a sip of J’s Merlot and, of course, the wine expert was right.  It tasted like sandpaper.

After that, I just let the lady who knew what she was doing pick out the wine for me.  I also sampled the Catawba which is one that J and her mom both liked.  I thought it was good, but not sure if I could drink a whole glass.  I was given a glass of the Passionate Peach Spumante which was very peachy.  I was kind of intrigued by the bubbliness of the drink.  Again, not much of a wine drinker, so I’ve never had anything like that.  The other two I sampled were the Simply Pink and Blackberry Wine Cocktail which is one of the dessert wines.

To wrap things up, we all wanted to try the Grey Heron Vodka.  It was the reason we decided to take a trip to St. Julian today.  It was suggested we drink the vodka with the new Pomegranate-Bluberry Juice.  J and her mom both did that.  I took the vodka straight.  I was handed a pretty good size glass.  If it wasn’t a full shot, it was pretty close.  I picked the glass up and shot it just like I would any vodka.  It was much smoother than the cheap vodka I usually drink (when I drink vodka which isn’t all that often).  The employees explained that the Grey Heron is made with grapes instead of the traditional potatoes, but it doesn’t have a grape taste to it.  The vodka is distilled five times whereas Grey Goose is only distilled four.  J and her mom both really enjoyed the Vodka with the juice.  J said she could only taste a hint of the vodka in the drink and said she could easily see how it would sneak up on you pretty quickly.

After we finished up the tasting, we did a little shopping.  J and I got a wine glass for our collection of liquor glassware.  J’s mom bought several bottles to take home with her.  She got a bottle of the Catawba for herself as well as us and a bottle of the Sholom Kosher Wine since it was the one I really liked.  She bought a bottle of the Grey Heron Vodka for herself and offered to buy one for us.  While tempting, neither of us are the type to sit at home and drink cocktails and we didn’t want it to go to waste.

All in all, I’m really glad we made the trip out to St. Julian.  I had never been to a winery before and I’ve always been curious.  All three of us had a great time and the staff made things really easy for us non and casual wine drinkers.  What they really did was open me up to something I’ve always been hesitant of because I was intimidated by the whole process.  If you’re a wine drinker, I don’t have to tell you how great St. Julian is.  If you’re like me, open up and give it a chance.  You’ll be surprised.

Catawba and Sholom Kosher Wine

Grey Heron Vodka

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Linda permalink
    April 25, 2010 1:47 pm

    I too am a fan of the Gray Heron Vodka, and I am one who does partake of a cocktail at home. I’ve been to St. Julians many times with the the past year and half simplly to purchase 3-4 bottles of the GHV. I think of it as a super treat. It is NOT available anywhere else and the last I heard they could not sell it anywhere but the Paw Paw location. I prefer it to any other Voka, but in a pinch the A brand has to do.
    I advocate Michigan Made products and when I get a chance to go Paw Paw again I’ll make my purchase and the A Brand can go begging back to Sweden

  2. Skye permalink
    May 5, 2011 4:37 pm

    Vodka made from grapes? Wow! Sounds interesting.

    • SW Michigan Dining permalink*
      May 6, 2011 2:24 am

      Interesting….and delicious!

  3. Georgia Leszczynski permalink
    October 11, 2017 1:17 am

    Looking for St. Julian passionate peach spumanti. Could go to stores to get it but now can’t find any.

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