Sandhill Crane Vineyards
Sandhill Crane Vineyards (Michigan Winery)
Sandhill Crane Vineyards, a small family-owned winery, opened in September 2003 as the 40th winery in Michigan. It began as a “hobby run amok.” Retired Detroit Police officer, Norman Moffatt made small amounts of wine for decades before taking the plunge into a commercial vineyard and winery. It’s been a family operation since its beginning, with daughters Holly and Heather splitting the tasks of running the winery. Holly makes the wine while Heather runs the business. Other family members work in the tasting room and help out during special events. Norman supervises the vineyard operations.
In the short time it’s been open, Sandhill Crane Vineyards has received numerous awards for its wine. These include Gold Medals at the Indy International Competition, Tasters Guild International Competition, the Great Lakes Wine Judging, the Jefferson Cup International Competition, and the Michigan Wine & Spirits Competition.
Sandhill Crane Vineyards’ wine is made in small batches by hand with 100% Michigan grapes and other fruits. The winery grows about one-third of the grapes they need, obtaining the rest from other Michigan growers from within a 1.5 hour radius of the winery. Apples, raspberries, strawberries, and honey all come from Jackson County growers. The winery currently makes approximately 30 wines, with 15 to 20 available for tasting and purchase at any particular time. Their production ranges from 2500 to 3000 cases per year.
Located in rural eastern Jackson County about a mile north of Interstate 94, the picturesque tasting room/winery is nestled amongst the vineyards. The winery is open year ‘round. Sandhill Crane Vineyards also operates a seasonal tasting room inside the Dexter Cider Mill in Washtenaw County, the oldest continuously operating cider mill in Michigan. The wine tasting room is open during cider season – late August through mid-November.
The winery was named after the large, vocal birds that feed in the cornfields next door. It’s located only a few minutes away from the Haehnle Bird Sanctuary where each fall thousands of cranes gather before heading south. The winery and bird sanctuary team up in the fall for several Crane Watch events.
Because of its picturesque grounds, Sandhill Crane Vineyards holds numerous events throughout the year. These include a Mardi Gras Festival, Women’s Spa Day, and Raspberry Festival, with as many as 500 visitors attending the largest events.