AWG Correspondent

Jill Barth

Fenn Valley Vineyards Photos

Fenn Valley Vineyards Review

Regions: Lake Michigan Shore AVA, Fennville AVA, Michigan

Reviewed: January 16, 2016 by Jill Barth
Published: February 11, 2016

We stopped into Fenn Valley Vineyards and Wine Cellar, in Southwest Michigan, on an afternoon when lake effect snow had fallen and temperatures were low. We were welcomed into the warm and bustling tasting room by Amy, who provided us tasting menus and glasses as well as her offer to answer our questions and chat with us about Fenn Valley. Our host was attentive, knowledgeable and friendly and made the tasting experience relaxing and fun. The tasting room is casual, farmhouse-rustic and well-equipped and features an ample tasting bar with plenty of staff.

We were a group of four (my husband and two friends joined me) and there was no delay at the tasting bar even though the facility was very busy with participants and hungry folks enjoying the winery’s annual Chili Cookoff event (more on that below).

Fenn Valley offers two complimentary samples. An additional five samples (bringing the total to seven) is available for $5 per person. The tasting fee is refundable with a purchase of four or more bottles, and there are discounts on purchases upwards of a half-case on a sliding scale. There is a token system in place (a practice that seems to be taking off in Southwest Michigan) in order to keep track of the tastings consumed.

Visitors can choose from a selection of nearly 40 wines, comprised by: three sparkling wines, nine dry white wines, six dry red wines, four dessert wines, six semi-dry wines, three sweetened wines and a handful of specialty wines and ciders. All the bottles retail for under $25 and all were available for purchase.

My first sample was of the Premier Cuvee, a sparkling blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, a festive and delicious start to our visit. From the selection of whites, I tasted the 2013 Grüner Veltliner, interested to experience this unusual varietal on the menu in this region. Amy told me that the grapes are indeed grown offsite. I also sampled a wine called Edelzwicker, a Traminette/Riesling blend. Both grapes are commonly grown in the area and represent the winemaker’s blend of regional favorites. Amy poured me a taste of one of Fenn Valley’s biggest sellers, Capriccio, a big red made of Chamborcin (another local mainstay), Cabernet France and Merlot. This wine retails for $12.00 and at that price makes for a tasty weekday wine for evenings at home. My last taste was of the 2013 Cabernet Franc, a wine that is nearing the end of availability until the 2014 vintage is released in August. In oak for six months and lightly blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine was the most impressive that I tasted: deep cherry and a cocoa finish. There weren’t any crackers or water available during tasting, though we didn’t ask specifically.

While this trip didn’t include a tour, Fenn Valley offers a very comprehensive 1.45 hour tour of the vineyards and winery (including samples). The estate also offers a picnic area, a natural easement to occupy native wildlife and plants, a small selection of keep-them-busy toys for children, a sizeable retail shopping area, museum display and a view of the tank room. Excluding the tour, set aside 30 minutes to an hour to taste. If the weather is pleasant, enjoy a picnic with vineyard views before leaving the estate. Bottles are available for purchase, but wine by the glass, snacks or meals (outside of special events) are not. Amy told us that dogs are welcome.

Fenn Valley is approximate to popular travel destinations in Southwest Michigan, including the Lake Michigan shore. While there aren’t many other wine tasting opportunities in the surrounding Fennville AVA, one of only four AVAs in the state of Michigan, Fenn Valley is located in a an area that tends to draw weekend visitors, allowing time to visit the other wineries in the region (ranging from 37-66 miles away) as well as country drives, outdoor activities, restaurants and quaint shopping nearby. Fenn Valley has been a family owned vineyard and winery since foundation in 1973, with an estate of 240 acres and a 17,000 square foot winery facility.

Amy told us that high-energy events like the Chili Cookoff, a popular draw for local community members, happen regularly at Fenn Valley. We didn’t wander into the area where the chili was being served, but I could see that there was ample seating and that wine by the glass was available. See Fenn Valley’s website to book a reservation for events, large groups, bachelor parties, vineyard tours or tasting room attention for more than 12 people. Online booking is available and it seems that large groups are welcome (including a bachelorette party package) with ample notice and fee payment. Private label customization, an online store, recipes and more are available on the winery’s website; take a glance before you go. Fenn Valley also runs a tasting room in downtown Saugatuck, a charming village about 10 miles from the winery.

Address & Contact Information: 6130 122nd Ave. Fennville, Michigan 49408. Telephone: 269-561-2396, email:, website: Tasting Hours: Nov-Jun: Mon-Sat 11:00-5:00, Sun 1:00-5:00; Jul-Aug Mon-Sat 11:00-6:00, Sun 12:00-5:00, Sep-Oct: Fri-Sat 11:00-6:00.

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