Fishing, hiking, biking and other outdoor fun can be found in the Tri-Cities and surrounding area
By Angela Stair The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, (DNR), is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the state parks system, throughout 2019. The yearlong Michigan state parks centennial is a nod to state parks’ rich history and an energizing look forward. The milestone year will be marked with special events, podcasts, historical stories, videos, a geocaching tour and more. Follow the fun at Michigan.gov/StateParks100 and find a favorite way to celebrate. Michigan is home to outstanding fishing with more than 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, 11,000 inland lakes, and tens of thousands of miles of rivers and streams. For anyone interested in trying their hand, Saturday, June 8 and Sunday, June 9 is the 2019 Summer Free Fishing Weekend. All fishing license fees are waived for two days with residents and out-of-state visitors invited to enjoy fishing on both inland and Great Lakes’ waters for all species of fish during their respective open seasons. Please note that all other regulations still apply during that time. Discover some of the best places to drop a line in fishing destinations around the state at the DNR website. Discover the trail maps the state has to offer, not only for fishing, but for hiking, biking, paddling, and horseback and ORV riding. Michigan trails have something for everyone. The Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery Visitor Center is located not far east, just off Red Arrow Highway on County Road 652 in Mattawan, Van Buren County. It offers visitors a wide variety of programs over the summer. Hatchery tours are just one of them and run approximately 30 minutes and are held on Saturdays and Sundays. Visitors can see and feed a variety of fish species, take part in family scavenger hunts with scavenger hunt backpacks that help families explore nature on the trails around the visitor center – or just hike the nature trails, open from dawn to dusk, for a unique opportunity to see birds, frogs, turtles, snakes and more.
For more information about upcoming programs that will be held there, contact the Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery Visitor Center at 269-668-2876. New online, updated maps show state forest roads open to ORV use in the Northern Lower Peninsula. The more than 6,300 miles of state forest roads are open for off-road vehicle enthusiasts to ride. Final maps, along with printable maps by county, now are available on the DNR website. There will be two 2019 Free ORV Weekends, June 8-9 and August 17-18 this year. Residents and out-of-state visitors can ride nearly 3,700 miles of DNR-designated routes and trails without an ORV license or permit, those two weekends. For more on off-road-vehicle opportunities statewide and other need-to-know information, visit Michigan.gov/ORVTrails.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to making outdoor recreation available to people of all abilities. If you or someone in your group has difficulty getting around, check out the DNR accessible recreation webpage for information on campgrounds, parks, hunting, fishing, boating and more. Fishing on Lake Michigan can be a lot of fun. To get a charter for fishing the big lake go to St. Joseph to the south or South Haven to the north of the Tri-City Area. Both towns have harbors and plenty of tourist type shops and restaurants. There is something for everyone.
For anyone not having access to the internet to check out some of this information, they can go to the local library in Watervliet, Coloma, or Hartford and use the public computers there. The librarians are friendly and are always willing to help patrons. They may also have a few tips on local hot spots for eating and entertainment.
Local breweries & wineries raise a glass to summer
By Teresa Smithers Whether a person thinks wine is fine or beer is better, both breweries and wineries are becoming the American version of a European pub – a staple of society that provides community, entertainment and quality refreshment. They’re a place to gather with friends, enjoy music, and debate the issues of the day and, oh yeah, drink great beer and wine. There are several award-winning breweries and wineries right here in the Tri-City Area and residents are encouraged to take their summer guests on a self-guided tour of them all. Each one is unique in its offerings; which one will become a new favorite place to unwind? Here is, dare to be said, just a “taste” of what can be found.
ARCLIGHT BREWERY Opened in 2014 by Dave Coyle (owner, from Rockford, Illinois) and Ed Nash (head brewer, from Watervliet), Arclight Brewing Company is a plainspoken, down-to-earth brewery that is quickly becoming a favorite hometown hangout in Watervliet. Families and friends gather at long tables inside or chat at umbrella tables on the front patio. On the back patio, a game of Bocce Ball is often in progress; and inside, a variety of available board games keep game nights alive. But breweries are all about the brews, and Arclight definitely has them. They craft a great variety of beers, shandies and sodas on sight. But their specialty is sour beers. “We specialize in sour beer under our Soursmith series,” explains General Manager Matt Gaipa. “These beers are aged for a year in oak barrels that are purposely infected with wild yeast/bacteria harvested from local fruit orchards. This causes the beer to have its signature sour flavor.” No food is served at Arclight, but various food vendors are on sight most weekends, especially during the summer months, and pizza deliveries are common. Special events are hosted throughout the year as well. Memorial Day weekend, Lark’s Barbecue will be parked outside Arclight. On Saturday, May 25, 8-10 p.m., The Deep Fried Pickle Project Jug Band will entertain everyone. Beer, barbecue and pickles – it sounds like a perfect combination for a fun night in Watervliet!
ROUND BARN The Round Barn Filling Station, located at the former Jollay Market at I-94 and Friday Road in Coloma, is scheduled to open about the middle of June. It will feature a beer garden, serving wine and spirits with beer to follow, paninis, salads, mixed nuts, charcuterie and more. The Round Barn in Baroda was begun as the “Heart of the Vineyard” winery back in 1992 by Rick Moersch, a former high school biology teacher. A few years later, it became one of the first vintners operating a trinity of winery, distillery and brewery, thanks in part to local growing conditions ideal for grapes, other fruits and hops. With Rick’s son, Matt Moersch, at the helm of Moersch Hospitality Group and a 1912 round barn moved from Indiana, it was christened “Round Barn” and is now the fourth largest winery in the state with their own vineyards. Round Barn boasts multiple restaurant and tasting room locations within a 25-mile radius of Baroda – all serving the group’s wine, beer and spirits. And now it is coming to Coloma!
VINEYARD 2121 Vineyard 2121, located on Red Arrow Highway near Twelve Corners, opened in July 2015 by Jeffrey and Deborah Pallas. Guests are invited to relax on the beautiful outdoor patio and enjoy hand-crafted local wines and a food menu that highlights fresh local produce. Inside is a spacious tasting room overlooking the vineyard. Vineyard 2121 is an award-winning winery. Twice, it has been voted the second best winery in West Michigan. In 2014, Vineyard 2121 was awarded the Berrien County Conservation Farm of the Year award, and in 2018, it received six international awards in three different competitions across the United States! Gunnar Olson and De’Vino Hipskind work with Jeff and Debbie Pallas to produce these award-winning wines. Wood-fire pizza and live entertainment is offered every weekend through September. Friday, May 24, 6-9 p.m., hear the Exit 41 Band, and on Sunday, 2-5 p.m., enjoy the High Vizz Band. This summer, Vineyard 2121 will also host its first “Summer Concert” series. The concerts are in addition to the winery and have a charge of $10 (seasonal pass: $50). There will be seven visiting bands this summer, the first being the Bronk Brothers on June 29.
KARMA VISTA WINERY On a hilltop on Ryno Road in Coloma, Karma Vista overlooks its vineyards proudly. It should. Those vineyards just won two silver medals at the 2019 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition This was the largest wine competition in the country and both wines were the only medal winners in their respective categories that were not from the West Coast. Impressive! Karma Vista has been a family fruit farm for 172 years and a winery for 17 years. Owners Joe and Sue Herman can be found at the tasting room answering questions about the farm, family and the grapes. Their son, Keith, is a 7th generation and winemaker. Karma Vista caters to individuals and small groups. Enjoy the deck or sit inside the tasting room, either way, the vineyard view is amazing. Their unique site allows them to grow the tenderest European varieties of grapes, such as Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Merlot, many of which cannot be grown elsewhere. Award-winning cheeses are served along with their wines. Tasting fee is $5 for five samples of this award-winning wine.
MOONRISE, LLC Located on Hill Road south of Watervliet, Moonrise is the first winery and tasting room to open in Bainbridge Township. It is a small family winery owned and operated by Tom and Karen Zabadal. They offer a dozen different wines, and nine of the twelve are made from grapes grown in their own 3.5-acre vineyard. Guests are welcomed to walk up the hill from the winery to the beautiful lookout to enjoy the view of good wine for themselves.
Inside the tasting room, five 1-oz. tasting samples and the tasting glass to take home is $10. Moonrise also offers locally-produced cheeses from Reny Picot in Benton Harbor, and sausages from Zick’s Meat Market in Berrien Springs for a truly Southwestern Michigan tasting experience.