Shady Creek Winery

***** (5 stars)

This is one of the best wineries in the area for visitors, because they have good wines, a nice ambiance and an extensive food menu. The staff is friendly, and on the day we were there they had live entertainment.

One of the reasons their wines are good is because they are making their dry wines from California grapes, not local ones (which are better suited to making sweet wines).

Everything we sampled was well made. Note that there is a fee ($5) for five samples.

Shady Creek Winery
2030 Tryon Rd
Michigan City, IN 46360
(219) 874-9463
http://www.yelp.com/biz/shady-creek-winery-michigan-city

Butler Winery

***** (5 stars)

It’s hard to make great dry wines from unusual grapes in difficult growing areas, so Butler winery is to be commended for their excellent results. Lots of wineries in the area produce drinkable sweet wines from local grapes, but Butler is the only one we visited that is making outstanding dry wines using those varietals. Everything we tried was a terrific example of meticulous winemaking.

There’s small attached shop at the entrance, and then a tasting counter staffed by very personable and knowledgeable folks who are justifiably proud of their award winning wines. We purchased a mixed half case of dry whites and reds.

Butler Winery
401 Broadway
Chesterton, IN 46304
(219) 929-1400
http://www.yelp.com/biz/butler-winery-chesterton

Round Barn Winery

***** (5 stars)

This place certainly had the best wine of any of the southwest Michigan wineries we visited. The large, round, tasting room can get busy, but the service is friendly, and your tasting fee includes five samples, a glass to keep, and a discount on purchases.

As with all Michigan state wineries, you can tell that the winemakers are struggling to compensate for less than ideal growing conditions for vinifera. But the battle is largely being won here, and the sauvignon blanc, in particular, was world class.

The weekend ambience at the winery is hopping. There is live outdoor music, and hundreds of folks gathered around enjoying it. There is also a barn where they sell their beers, although the brewery itself is elsewhere.

I don’t recommend their distilled spirits, as the rum tastes more like vodka mixed with gin. However the walnut creme liquor is fabulous, probably the best thing they make.

Round Barn Winery
10983 Hills Rd
Baroda, MI 49101
(800) 716-9463
http://www.yelp.com/biz/round-barn-winery-baroda

Tabor Hill Winery & Restaurant In the Vineyard

**** (4 stars)

Tabor Hill wines share the characteristic struggle of other Michigan wineries, where you can sense the winemaker struggling to overcome difficult growing conditions for vinifera. However the real highlight at Tabor Hill is the restaurant and the ambience of the property. A leisurely lunch on the patio overlooking the vineyard can’t be beat. We enjoyed the charcuterie plate, the fish tacos and the orange shrimp salad. Service was friendly, and the view can’t be beat.

Tabor Hill Winery & Restaurant In the Vineyard
185 Mount Tabor Rd
Buchanan, MI 49107
(800) 283-3363
http://www.yelp.com/biz/tabor-hill-winery-and-restaurant-in-the-vineyard-buchanan

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants

***** (5 stars)

I was impressed by a Cooper’s Hawk in Arlington, Illinois, so I was looking forward to this location in Orlando, and I wasn’t disappointed.

The interior of these restaurants is particularly inviting, with high ceilings and great use of natural wood and winery related props to create a themed, but not clamorous environment.

The food offerings are quite broad, and everything we tried we really enjoyed. In particular the appetizers of Mexican Drunken Shrimp and Ahi Tuna Tacos were outstanding.

Of course, since it’s a “winery” there are many, many selections of wine. I assume they source these from various negotiants, and they are well chosen to reflect a broad range of varietals and styles. The four wine tasting flights are a great way to explore the differences, and the pours are as generous as the pricing is reasonable.

Service was friendly, helpful and attentive. This place has definitely been added to our regular lunch rotation.

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants
8005 International Dr
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 956-3400
http://www.yelp.com/biz/coopers-hawk-winery-and-restaurants-orlando-4

Eos Estate Winery

*** (3 stars)

This is a lovely facility owned by Firestones. Most of the wines poured here are actually fro other properties, with only the Cabernet locally grown. Some wines are from as far away as Napa.

Overall wine quality was only mediocre, with several wines exhibiting sulfite or sorbet issues.

Service was friendly, and pricing is reasonable.

Eos Estate Winery
2300 Airport Rd
Paso Robles, CA 93446
(805) 591-8050
http://www.yelp.com/biz/eos-estate-winery-paso-robles-2

Robert Hall Winery

**** (4 stars)

The first Paso Robles winery to wine the “Best Winery in California” title by taking the most medals at the fair. The wines are perhaps not all categorically great, but the reserve wines are extremely well made. The tasting room policy of free tastings with the purchase of a bottle is highly appreciated.

Robert Hall Winery
3443 Mill Rd
Paso Robles, CA 93446
(805) 239-1616
http://www.yelp.com/biz/robert-hall-winery-paso-robles

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants

**** (4 stars)

This is a bustling operation divided into many dining rooms and fronted by a large gift shop. They offer a broad range of wines they barrel age and presumably blend themselves, and we found them sound if not inspired, and reasonably priced. The food was excellent, from the vegetarian flatbread to the fish main courses. The menu is extensive, and I’m sure we’ll return to explore further. Service was friendly and efficient.

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants
798 W Algonquin Rd
Arlington Heights, IL 60005
(847) 981-0900
http://www.yelp.com/biz/coopers-hawk-winery-and-restaurants-arlington-heights