Encore September 2014

Page 8

up front encore

Sip Wine, Preserve History

Wine-tasting event supports small-town museum

Fifteen years ago the Best of Michigan Wine Tasting moved from

Kalamazoo to Lawton, and in a way it was coming home. The site of the annual event is the state’s oldest standing winery building, at 646 N. Nursery St., in Lawton. It is now the Heritage Community Center and houses the Lawton Heritage Museum but was once the home of Houppert Winery Complex, the first winery in Michigan. This year’s tasting event is set for Sept. 4. The event’s move from Kalamazoo to the small town of Lawton not only bucks the trend of urbanization, but also reinforces the mission of the museum — to connect residents with the culture and history of Lawton and Michigan small towns like it. Bruce Marks, vice president of the museum’s board of directors, is originally from Decatur, another small town in Van Buren County. “Life in small towns has completely changed,” he says. “Your whole

8 | Encore SEPTEMBER 2014

Bruce Marks, vice president of the Lawton Heritage Museum’s board, stands amid a display at the museum.

life used to revolve around your community, which is not the case anymore. I’m close to 70 years old, and we hardly ever used to go to Kalamazoo when I was younger, even though it was only 30 miles away, because our small town provided everything we needed. That’s kind of the flavor we’re trying to capture in our museum and the type of connection we’re trying to create.” The Best of Michigan Wine Tasting is a fundraiser for the nonprofit museum, which is run by volunteers. The event is scheduled for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the museum and will feature wines from 12 to 15 wineries, including the host winery, St. Julian Wine Co. This year’s event also offers food from Premier Catering of Paw Paw and music by Hackneyed Quips. At the end of the evening, attendees vote on a People’s Choice Winery award.