St. Julien Winery

Every once in a while you get to do something really cool, something completely unexpected.  And it is in those times that you are happy you stepped outside the normal day.  Last week while hanging out with the brewers from Right Brain and Paw Paw we made the trip across the street (literally) to St. Julien Winery and did an impromptu visit of the winery. 

St. Julien is Michigan’s oldest and largest winery.  Mariano Meconi, an Italian immigrant (stopping first in Canada) brought the winery that became St. Julien into Michigan in 1933, then moved to their location in Paw Paw in 1936. 

In the 1990s they also became a distillery under the guidance of Cellar Master and Master Distiller Larry Gilbert.  In the distillery they make ports and brandies as well as gin and vodka using grape spirits. 


Of course you can’t spend some time with a craftsman without a couple samples.  I go on record to say that the gin we sampled that day was amazing.  Mind you, it was uncut at roughly 90% alcohol so it was quite warming.  But you would think that gin from grapes would share something in common with wine.  But their gin is incredibly clean, the juniper berries carry the alcohol well. 

After spending a bit of time in the distillery we of course had to move on to the cask cellar where all the aging is done. 

Of course this is what most would think of when they think of a wine cellar.  This is the traditional way it is done.  A modern winery still has their steel tanks as well though and St. Julien is no exception. 


Considering this is only one of the tanks at St. Julien you gotta figure they can make a little bit of wine.  This tanks capacity is a little over 12000 gallons (a couple sips, right).

The bladder press.  This is where grapes are pressed before heading to fermenters.  During harvest season this beast is put through the paces, pressing up to 33 tons of grapes in 2.5 hours.  Imagine trying to do that with your feet. 

Time for a pint…

8 thoughts on “St. Julien Winery

  1. I have heard that there are good number of craft spirits popping up in Michigan now, but it hasn't been something I have followed up with as much. I do like the stuff coming out of New Holland and St. Julian though.

  2. That was something we talked about on the tour. For it to be classified as vodka it must be completely neutral (flavor and color). So in essence vodka from grapes is really no different than vodka from potatoes.

  3. Cool. The only brewery I've ever been to was the Heineken brewery in Amsterdam and I love learning about all of the processes and getting samples. I didn't know that whiskey was made like that but it sounds pretty interesting.

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