5 wine spots to warm up winter eves in Macomb

This story is part of a series, made possible with the support of Macomb County, capturing the stories of how residents and visitors live, work, and play in the region.

While the majority of Michigan’s vineyards are located in the southwest and northwest parts of the state, the vines are spreading to Macomb County — or at least, their products are. For wine connoisseurs and novices alike, wine tasting is proving a popular alternative for those who like to stay inside during Michigan’s harsh winters. Here are five wineries and wine bars to check out in Macomb County this season.

The cellar room at Cellar 104 Boutique Winery draws a crowd. Photo supplied / David Gagnon.

Cellar 104 Boutique Winery, Mount Clemens

Opened in March of 2021, Cellar 104 is known for its vino, produced on-site in downtown Mount Clemens in an old-world fashion. The all-natural wines age for a minimum of 12 to 24 months and are made from 20 different grape varietals from Italy, Chile, and California.

“The wines are all aged in special tanks — we don’t oak our wines,” says General Manager and Vintner David Gagnon. “Most of the wine bottles on the shelf that you buy at a store are relatively young wines, and in order to do that, they have to have inhibitors and chemicals to stop the fermentation. We don’t do that — we let the wine age naturally so we don’t have to add chemicals.”

Guests can enjoy tasting flights in the Cellar Room or sample a charcuterie board in the Vineyard Room while appreciating the murals of Castello de Amoroso in Napa, California. Catering to smaller consumption trends, 375-milliliter bottles (compared to the typical 750 milliliters) are also for sale, as well as wine accessories.

The winery also offers a wine-making membership where students learn the chemistry of winemaking, and the Cellar 104 method and aging process.

Tim Hudson is a regular patron at Michigan By The Bottle's wine tasting events.

Michigan By The Bottle, Shelby Township 

Owners Cortney and Shannon Casey at the sixth birthday bash of their Shelby Township location in 2019.Voted best wine bar by Hour Detroit from 2014 through 2021, Michigan By The Bottle (MBTB) is a go-to destination to sample wines from around the state. What started out as a fun blog created by certified sommelier Cortney Casey and her husband, Shannon, turned into a “real job” when the two Michigan wine lovers opened the first location in Shelby Township in 2012. The couple later opened two more locations in Royal Oak and Auburn Hills.

Cortney Casey says she is proud of how they were able to unite previously unaffiliated wineries under a single roof. “Even now, there really isn’t anyone else doing anything like this in the area.”

MBTB partners with select wineries at each location, specifically smaller wineries with little to no distribution in the area to help get their wines out to consumers in another area.

The wine bar also offers small plate events, an in-house book club, wine education classes, vertical tastings, and winemaker’s dinners. All three locations exhibit original work by Grand Rapids artist Stephanie Schlatter, known for her paintings of the vineyards of Northern Michigan.

Photo supplied / Gerard Giacona

Filipo Marc Winery, Clinton Township

Owners Tressa and Gerard Giacona purchased Filipo Marc in 2004, which had been established in 1999. The expansive list of whites, reds, rosés, and dessert wines are all gluten and sulfite-free and made of grapes sourced from around the world Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Spain, France, Washington, Oregon, and California.

Filipo Marc wine tastings offer a flight of 15 half-ounce selections, and the tastings are more of a class, Gerard Giacona says. The Filipo Marc motto: "Beginners are welcome, snobs are tolerated."

“We're not here to impress people with how knowledgeable we are by proving what snobs we are,” Gerard Giacona says. “We want people to be able to relate to the experience so they can better understand it.”

Additionally, they offer food pairings (such as platters of various cheeses and crackers) as well as a gourmet chocolate demonstration. Giacona encourages guests to try wine with food pairings to really find what they like.

“We really break it down for people to understand who they are and how they can relate to wine,” he says.

Unwinded Winery is fully stocked for patrons. Photo supplied / Kurt Teller.

Unwined Winery, Shelby Township

This winery and wine bar was opened in February of 2019 by two couples: Jill and Mark Thomas and Kurt and Diane Teller, who had started making wine as amateurs in their garages and basements for nearly a decade. Now they make wines on-site at their Shelby Township location.

“We have taken on a kind of small European village-style of fermenting where we make everything in relatively small batches,” Kurt Teller says. “It gives us the option to control how much we make, as well as create our own blends and different aging.”

With 30 plus wine varieties on their list, they aim to have something for every wine lover from whites and reds to sweets, desserts, and barrel-aged wines. They even have a line of spicy wines, with fruit bases infused with jalapeños.

In addition to winetasting, Unwined offers a menu of light fare, as well as a special soup or stew of the month during winter. Some events have been on pause due to COVID-19, but the owners hope to host wine and cheese pairing events and have live music once a month soon. Stop in every third Wednesday for Trivia Night or find their table at Eastern Market on Saturdays.

Vino & Vibes Wine Bar is proving popular during the cold winter evenings. Photo supplied / Anna Nolan.

Vino & Vibes Wine Bar, Utica

Photo supplied / Anna NolanLocated in a historical brick building from 1905 in downtown Utica, Deanna and Anna Nolan opened Vino & Vibes in February of 2021. Retired basketball player Deanna is a DJ, and her wife Anna, have an interest in the wine and restaurant business, so the couple decided to combine their two passions into one: a wine bar.

Besides wine, Vino & Vibes has a full bar with cocktails, beers and ciders, as well as a menu of small plates, charcuterie, and paninis. As for their wine selection, the Nolans focus on quality.

“We tried to keep it small, but every wine is selected by us personally,” Anna Nolan says. “Our goal is to support non-commercial wines — ones you will not see in supermarkets or grocery stores. It's most of the time small wineries, family-owned wineries from all over the world, not just America […] and a lot of our wines are at least sustainably grown. A lot of them are also organic or biodynamically grown.”

Additionally, they offer weekly specials Happy Hour, half-off bottles on Wednesdays, Ladies’ Night, live music on Thursdays and Saturdays, and Sunday Brunch. Their most recent event was Queen Brunch on Jan. 23 which was brunch and a drag queen show.
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