Michigan History

Grape Country

St Julian Sign2

There are currently three wineries and vineyards currently producing wine out of Paw Paw, Michigan. Paw Paw is home to the Saint Julian Winery, which was one of the very first wineries opened in Michigan following the prohibition era. Mariano Meconi, the founder of Saint Julian’s, moved to Paw Paw from Detroit in 1936 in order to open a winery within the coveted Lake Michigan Shore grape-growing region. Meconi was an Italian immigrant who as a young man worked at the Studebaker auto factory in order to raise enough money to pursue his dreams of wine production. With the move from Detroit also came a name change of Meconi’s company, from Frontenac Vineyards to The Italian Wine Company. Due to the anti-fascist notions of the Second World War, Meconi changed the name of his winery once again to St. Julian’s Winery, named after the patron saint of his hometown Faleria, Italy.

Two years after Meconi opened St. Julian’s, John Turner and James K. Warner, who were both local farmers before wine producers, opened Warner Vineyards. Warner Vineyards is situated along the Paw Paw River in the downtown district. Paw Paw village’s original water-works building, constructed in 1898, is currently the home of Warner Winery’s wine house. Warner Winery is representative of the town it was founded in, being established by simple Paw Paw farmers and transforming the town’s economy into including the production of grapes and wine.

Apart from St. Julian’s Winery and Warner Vineyards, there is also a small, family owned winery known as Cody Kresta Vineyard and Winery. The owners of the Cody Kresta Vineyard and Winery were long time Paw Paw residents that transformed their family’s grape farm into a fully operational winery. These three Paw Paw wineries come together annually in September to host Paw Paw’s very own Wine and Harvest Festival. The Wine and Harvest Festival is quite possibly Paw Paw’s largest attraction, bringing together wine fanatics from all around Michigan.