ROBINSON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A tasting room and winery opening near Grand Haven this summer is a dream years in the making.
Fox and Hen Winery will be opening on 104th Avenue near Osborn Street in Robinson Township, about 15 minutes from downtown Grand Haven. The winery initially expected to open Aug. 5 but later changed that to Sept. 30.
Wil Malski and his wife moved to the 6.5-acre property in 2013 to start growing the vines.
Malski started making wine in his basement in his early 20s. Starting his own winery is something he’s wanted to do for more than a decade.
“It was really falling in love with the wine tasting experience up north and down in southwest Michigan,” he said. “My wife and I would go out to some of those wineries and just dream about having our own one day.”
Making the wine is a five-year process at the outset, Malski said, as it takes about three years before the vines start producing grapes and another year or two to make the wine. Partway into the process, some of his French variety vines died over the winter, so he replaced them with hybrid varieties that are better suited for West Michigan winters.
Fox and Hen Winery now has St. Pepin, Marquette, Frontenac and Petite Pearl grapes, which are used to make a variety of wines.
When the tasting room opens this summer, it will offer a handful of wines with options for every type of wine drinker.
“Whether you’re a sweet wine drinker or a dry wine drinker, I’ll have at least one or two options that should fit the bill for you,” Malski said.
The tasting room will also offers two ciders and some appetizers, like a charcuterie board, a chocolate flight and a pretzel flight.
Malski said the tasting room will offer a relaxed, laid-back experience, with couches and other seating inside, tables on the patio and picnic tables with games in the back.
“I like to take the pretense out of wine. It should be something that’s super approachable. There’s no judgment,” he said.
The name ‘Fox and Hen Winery’ comes from an unfortunate incident that happened on the property: Malski and his wife had some chickens, but one evening a fox came and killed them all before he could put them in their coop for the night.
He later saw the fox taking the chickens into the woods.
“To me it also has a double meaning. … It’s where the farm meets the woods, it’s the conglomeration of the two different animals,” he said. “It’s exactly what we have here: We have a little farm carved out into the woods.”
The Fox and Hen Winery will be open on the weekends to start. Malski is hoping to be open five days a week starting next spring.
While he wants to see the winery grow, Malski also wants to keep it a small, personal experience for guests.
“I want to be in front of the customers, talking to them, answering any questions they have,” he said.
He said he’s excited to share his dream with West Michigan.
“It’s everything. This is nothing but years and years of sweat, blood and tears, hard work. Working until 10 p.m. at night and just putting in the labor, sore back, calloused hands,” he said. “Finally being able to see some type of result from all that work is huge.”
Editor’s note: A previous version of this article included a different opening date based on a statement from Malski. Malski later clarified the opening is Aug. 5.