Locally-owned winery enhances downtown Lexington’s small business community

As a student in college, Kristi Nichols-Shopbell took a wine-tasting class with her friends, an experience that set her on a path to becoming a wine connoisseur and entrepreneur. After falling in love with Michigan wines while traveling across the state, she came upon a winery that had hobby-level equipment sparking an idea to open one of her own.

Today, Lexington residents Nichols-Shopbell and her husband, Nathan, are the proud owners of two local establishments: 3 North Vines Vineyard & Tasting Room on Peck Road in Croswell and 3 North Lexington Taphouse & Eatery located downtown in the Village of Lexington.

Nate and Kristi Nichols-Shopbell.When looking for a location for their winery, the couple researched different regions before deciding that the Port Huron moraine’s rolling landform made for a great spot.

“If you’re in Lexington and drive into town, you kind of drive uphill the whole way. That’s the Port Huron moraine and it goes almost around the whole state,” Nichols-Shopbell says. “It’s just a big hill that the glaciers have left over. On our side of the state, that holds our moderated temperature in for us which helps give us some more growing days in the fall when the lake is still warm, and helps moderate us in the spring, keeping some of that cold air closer to land so we don’t get an earlier bud break.”

Although many people associate wine-making with places like California or Italy, Nichols-Shopbell says Michigan is one of the top-tier wine-producing states in the country.

“We’re very well-represented, we have a lot of wineries of different kinds and sizes,” she says. “You’ve got your mom-and-pop startups and you’ve got some really big ones that have a lot of investment behind them.”

After opening in 2014 and seeing much success from their establishment in Croswell, the couple decided to expand their business. In September 2021, they opened 3 North Lexington Taphouse & Eatery which was formerly Lexington Brewing Company and Wine House.

Nichols-Shopbell says they wanted to let the space ‘speak for itself’ in its minimalist design.

“It’s a big open room with brick walls and those really iconic windows on the front of the building which let in a lot of light,” she says. “It has a nice big bar on the south side of the building and old wood floors.”

3 North Lexington Taphouse & Eatery is located at 5475 Main St. in Lexington, Michigan.

3 North Lexington offers Michigan-made products including gifts and art from regional artisans and is an active presence within the community partnering with fellow business owners to host local events including pub crawls.

Lexington Village Manager, Lori Fisher, says the community is fortunate to be home to 3 North Lexington and many other unique businesses.

“I love to see people with a passion for something meld it into a career and find a way to share it with people,” Fisher says. “Kristi has so much energy and passion for what she is doing and that spills over into the community, other business owners, and the customers … I see this same energy when talking to other business owners in Lexington — people are here because they love what they are doing and they love this town.”

To ensure everyone feels welcome, Nichols-Shopbell says 3 North Lexington also offers a range of non-alcoholic options.

“At the vineyard, we do Italian soda flights. At the taphouse, we do craft sodas like Hank's Gourmet Soda, Jones Soda, and Northern Soda Company,” she says. “We try to have a flight of things so that if you come in with a group and you’re the driver, pregnant, or just don’t care to have alcohol, there’s an option to feel like you’re doing the same thing as everybody else.”

The owners say they see 3 North Lexington as an enjoyable gathering place for the community, providing a warm atmosphere, inviting staff, and locally-grown produce.

“We try to work with other businesses in town as much as we can,” Nichols-Shopbell says. “We’re of the mind that we all rise together. It’s really beneficial when businesses can work together instead of seeing each other as competition. If the area is doing well, that’s going to make it better for everybody.”
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Read more articles by Sarah Spohn.

Sarah Spohn is a Lansing resident, but every day finds a new interesting person, place, or thing in towns all over Michigan leaving her truly smitten with the mitten. She received her degrees in journalism and professional communications and provides coverage for various publications locally, regionally, and nationally — writing stories on small businesses, arts and culture, dining, community, and anything Michigan-made. You can find her in a record shop, a local concert, or eating one too many desserts at a bakery. If by chance, she’s not at any of those places, you can contact her at sarahspohn.news@gmail.com.