Lake Michigan Shore Wine Festival Makes its Move

Crowds drive event’s switch to larger grounds


Along-running southwestern Michigan wine festival gets new digs this year.

The Lake Michigan Shore Wine Festival, coming up Saturday, June 16, was previously held at Weko Beach in Bridgman. Now it’s moving about 3 miles down the road to Warren Dunes State Park in Sawyer.

Festival organizers say the driving factor behind the change is a good problem to have: Between the number of wineries involved and the crowds that attend, they simply outgrew Weko Beach.

“We’ve been growing each year,” says Kathy Sturm, executive administrator for the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail. “The wonderful people at Warren Dunes State Park came to us and said at any time, if we needed more space, to let them know.” 

Sturm says they officially began discussing the change a year ago. She believes the new venue will be ideal.

“We have Lake Michigan, we have the dunes, and it’s just the perfect setting,” she says. “We could easily accommodate 6,000 to 7,000 people.”

Colleen Ryan of Traffic PR, who has been part of the event since its inception, says the festival has come a long way since the original idea arose in 2005.

“We recognized the amazing amenities and assets that we have here in Southwest Michigan — that being the wineries ... along with the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan,” says Ryan, who serves as one of the event’s producers. “We got together with the wine trail and came up with an idea to throw a big party, where people can come and taste all the amazing wines from the entire wine trail.”

At the time of the first festival in 2006, the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail had only 10 members. It has since doubled.

Organizers planned for 400 attendees at that 2006 festival. Instead, more than 3,000 turned out.

“It was quite a successful year for the inaugural, and crazy successful each year (since),” Ryan says.

Tickets for this year’s event, which runs from 1-9:30 p.m., are $10 in advance or $15 at the door and include admission and a souvenir wine glass. Tasting tickets are $1 apiece, with tastings starting at 1 ticket, but varying depending on the wine selected. Additional wine and food tickets will be sold. Cash or credit is accepted, and there will be an ATM on-site.

According to Sturm, each of the 20 Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail wineries will be bringing several selections representing a diverse spectrum of wines — dry, semi-dry, sweet, red, white, rosé, and sparkling. Some hard ciders will be offered, along with beers from Round Barn Winery.

The format makes it simple to sample across the wine trail in a single location, says David Butkovich, co-owner and winemaker at Cody Kresta Vineyard & Winery.

“The wineries are pretty spread out geographically, so here we all are under one big tent on the beach of Lake Michigan — hard to get any better than that,” he says.

“We call the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Festival our ‘wine Christmas,’ ” says Melanie Owen, co-owner of Lazy Ballerina Winery. “It’s the only festival that has all of the Lake Michigan Shore wineries with their owners and winemakers in attendance.”

Besides the ability to taste from all of the LMS wineries, attractions include food trucks serving up a variety of cuisines and live entertainment from multiple bands throughout the day. On the musical lineup are The Hemispheres (soul/Motown/R&B); The Jamiah Rogers Band (blues/funk/R&B); Slim Gypsy Baggage (rock/country/Americana/roots/blues); Sean Wiggins (country); and Jake Mack and The Lesser Stags (rock/Americana).

Owen is also excited about the new backdrop.

“There is much more room for festivalgoers, and enough parking that people do not have to be shuttled in” as they did previously, she notes.

Because the venue is a state park, visitors will need to show a valid Michigan Recreation Passport to enter, or purchase a pass on-site for $16. While Warren Dunes does have more than 200 campsites, as of mid-May, they had already sold out for the festival date, Sturm says.

Dave Miller, owner and winemaker at White Pine Winery in St. Joseph, says many factors come together to make the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Festival a memorable event.

“The festival is on the beach at Lake Michigan, featuring locally grown wines,” he says. “There is no better place for a summer wine festival than here.”

For tickets or more information including a list of participating wineries, lodging suggestions, and volunteer opportunities, visit Most participating wineries are also selling tickets to the event at their tasting rooms.

Cortney Casey is a certified sommelier and co-founder of, a website and online community that promotes the entire Michigan wine industry. She’s also co-owner of Michigan By The Bottle Tasting Room, tasting rooms operated in partnership with multiple Michigan wineries, located in Shelby Township, Royal Oak, and Auburn Hills. Contact her at


Edit Module
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

Something Old, Something New at the 2018 Michigan Wine Competition

Michigan Wine Competition shakes up rules, adds new category

10 Things to Do in Metro Detroit This Weekend (August 17-19)

The Armada Fair, Woodward Dream Cruise, and Michigan Comic Con are just a few of the many events going on this weekend

The 23-Year-Old Creating Legislative Change for Women

A Q&A with Dana Mohammed, the student activist behind a new commission in Dearborn Heights

Motown Museum to Honor Aretha Franklin

The 'Queen of Soul' has died at the age of 76

New Japanese-Inspired Restaurant Comes to Birmingham

Adachi opens this week in Birmingham
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Review: Testa Barra Wows with Contemporary Dishes
    The Macomb Township restaurant serves Italian fare that is on par with the surging Detroit food...
  2. Michigan-Made, Mother Nature-Approved Tools for Your Kitchen
    Ditch disposables and opt for reusable products
  3. Exploring Metro Detroit’s Tiki Trend
    Mutiny Bar and Lost River serve up island vacations with every drink
  4. A Deeper Look into the Racial and Ethnic Tensions Dividing Metro Detroit
    From the city to the suburbs, existing segregation could be hindering the region’s progress
  5. Every Day is Throwback Thursday at This Roseville Steakhouse
    Mr. Paul's Chophouse has remained consistently delicious for more than 50 years
  6. A Look at the Inexplicable Exclusion of Detroit Tigers’ Lou Whitaker from the Baseball Hall of Fame
    Writer Michael Betzhold investigates the Major League slip-up
  7. 3 Eateries that Focus on People, Profit, and the Planet
    These triple bottom line businesses are part of Detroit’s FoodLab organization
  8. Q&A: Nancy Barr, Curator of Photography at the Detroit Institute of Arts
    Plus, information about the DIA’s upcoming exhibit, Lost & Found
  9. This Vegan Catering Company Celebrates the ‘Natural Beauty of Food’
    Plus, tips on how to create your own photo-worthy grazing board
  10. Meet the Makers: Salt Textile Studios
    This textile maker wants her creations to be unique to ‘here’