Domaine Berrien Cellars is situated on an 80 acre farm located in Berrien County, Michigan, in the heart of scenic Lake Michigan Shore Wine Country. Our vineyard development began in 1992 when Thomas & Abigail Fricke purchased the property, which was all planted in tart cherry trees at the time. They started by ripping out cherry trees and planting wine grapes, a few acres at a time. Tom was nearing retirement, and wanted to spend more time on his hobbies – growing grapes and making wine.
From his travels and climate research, Tom was convinced that our area here in Berrien County was similar to the Northern Rhone region of France and that Rhone grape varietals (such as Syrah, Viognier, Marsanne, and Roussanne) could be successfully grown and vinified here. His daughter and son-in-law, Katie & Wally Maurer, lived in the suburbs of Chicago and toiled away in “corporate America”, looking forward to the weekends when they could escape city life and help Mom & Dad with the grapes and winemaking.
Wally and Tom had been crafting their small batches of wine in the basement for years, and as the vineyards grew and the grape harvest became larger than the amount of wine their “hobby” could utilize, they began selling grapes to other wineries in the area.
However, Wally & Katie had always had the dream of owning their own business, and finally decided, “Why not turn our hobby (that we love) into a business?” In 2001, that dream became reality when they started Domaine Berrien Cellars – a small, boutique winery specializing in estate-grown, handcrafted wines. The first year’s production was only 750 cases of wine, which quickly sold out. Annual production is now up to 4,500 cases, all made from grapes grown here on the property. We were the first winery in Michigan to release a commercially grown and vinified Syrah, all due to Tom’s foresight and vision. Even though Tom & Abigail passed away in 2007, their memory lives on in our vineyards.