From Rieslings infused with hints of green apple to rich Merlot-Cabernet blends, Cortney and Shannon Casey are passionate about Michigan wine and have now poured their heart, soul and savings into the industry they love.
The Macomb Township couple first ventured into the vino business in 2009 with MichiganByTheBottle.com, a website promoting the Michigan wine industry, and for the past year, they have worked to turn their part-time hobby into a full-time career.
They finally achieved that goal in December 2012, opening Michigan By The Bottle Tasting Room in Shelby Township.
“The whole idea behind having a tasting room in Metro Detroit was that most of the population of Michigan is in this area, but most of the wineries are hours away,” said Cortney Casey, 32. “We wanted to bring Michigan wines closer to the population base. We always felt we were the black hole of Michigan wine (in Metro Detroit).”
Working with six Michigan wineries – Chateau Aeronautique, Chateau de Leelanau, Domaine Berrien Cellars, Gills Pier, Peninsula Cellars and Sandhill Crane Vineyards – the tasting room offers up to 30 vintages at any given time, in addition to a variety of Michigan cheese and chocolate.
“We talked to a lot of different wineries and wanted to make sure the ones we chose had self or limited distribution and not a huge presence in Metro Detroit,” Cortney Casey said. “We wanted to introduce those wines in a tasting room atmosphere … to bring the experience of a winery close to home.”
To cater to wine enthusiasts and first-time tasters alike, the tasting room offers monthly events ranging from yoga and wine, to meet-and-greet events with featured Michigan winemakers and artists.
“We’re hoping to have a lot of different events to bring in the people who have loved wines for many years to the people who are just getting into wine now,” Cortney Casey said. “I get so excited when I hear someone say, ‘I’ve never had Michigan wine before and I didn’t know it was that good.’”
While the Caseys say they would love to operate multiple locations in the future, as first-time business owners, they admit they’re taking things one day at a time.
“Every day is really scary and really exciting at the same time,” said Cortney Casey, a former newspaper reporter. “Every day feels like you’re throwing a party and you’re hoping people show up. Some days they do and some days they don’t.”
Shannon Casey, 34, continues to work as a sales director at BBC Title Agency in Royal Oak, but can be seen working with his wife behind the tasting counter most every evening and weekend.
Michigan By The Bottle Tasting Room, located at 45645 Hayes, north of Hall Road, is open Wednesday and Thursday, noon to 9 p.m.; Friday, noon to 10 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. The tasting room can be booked for private events Monday and Tuesday as well as Sunday evenings after regular closing.
For more information, visit http://mbtbtasting.com/ or call 586-843-3690.