Nov 16, 2021
St. Julian marks 100 years as Michigan’s longest-operating winery

St. Julien Winery, Michigan’s longest operating and most award-winning winery – recently celebrated its Centennial with a historic gathering in Paw Paw, Michigan, where it has produced wines since 1936.

Italian-born Mariano Meconi founded the company in Canada in 1921 as the Border City Wine Cellars (later known as Meconi Wine Company), before moving to Detroit and ultimately to the heart of West Michigan’s Lake Michigan Shore AVA (American Viticultural Region), where it first operated under the moniker of The Italian Wine Co. It has been known as St. Julian Winery since 1941.

“We have survived Prohibition, wars, The Great Depression, The Great Recession, fires, family tragedies, a pandemic, and countless other challenges over our 100-year timeline,” Dario Braganini, outstate sales director, said in a news release.  “We are blessed to have not only endured but to have prospered and grown throughout the years, cultivating our beverage portfolio to include wine, cider and spirits, as well as expanding our agricultural footprint here in the “fruit belt” region of Michigan. This year is a celebration of St. Julian as long-standing family company focused not only on today but on our future as an industry leader.”

“We are committed to fruit grown here in our state of Michigan,” the company’s website says. “Our growers are all located in Michigan and provide us with European, hybrid, and native grape varieties, cherries, blueberries, and anything else we can turn into wine, juice, or spirits. All located within 50 miles of the winery in Paw Paw, Michigan, we work closely with these vinicultural artisans in the relentless pursuit of excellence, diversity, quality and volume.”

To celebrate its landmark anniversary, St. Julian’s winemakers created a Centennial Series: six 2019 Cabernet Sauvignons, all of which hail from Mountain Road Estate Vineyard. The first five in the series were aged 14 months in French oak barrels from different cooperages, yielding delightfully different results, and the sixth wine is a harmonious blend of the first five.

These limited-edition wines were released exclusively at St. Julian’s Centennial Series Release Party held this fall in St. Julian’s newly opened barrel room. Guests were able to taste each of the wines with a perfectly paired appetizer as well as enjoy other limited and rare wines while mingling with the Braganini Family, the winemakers, Wine Club members and area legislators.

U.S. Congressmen Fred Upton, Michigan Senator Aric Nesbitt and Michigan Representative Beth Griffin were in attendance and presented President John Braganini with an exclusive Centennial award honoring the milestone.

“It’s an honor to be here,” said Nesbitt. “Not many businesses make it five years, let alone 10 years, let alone 100 years, and so the state of Michigan would like to pay you a tribute for the last 100 years here at St. Julian.”

Prior to the party, winemakers Nancie Oxley and Kyle Totzke, held a special educational seminar to teach how barrels are like a winemaker’s “spice rack” as well as how to taste the differences between barrel styles.

St. Julian, which is distributed in five states outside of Michigan, currently operates six tasting rooms within the state – Paw Paw, Dundee, Frankenmuth, Troy, Rockford and Union Pier.

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