MARQUETTE - St. Charles Winery captures the flavor of Marquette, not just in its delicious variety of wines, but in the labels that adorn its wine bottles.
Open since October 2012, St. Charles is the dream business of Randy and Lisa St. Charles, both natives of Lower Michigan who came to Marquette to attend Northern Michigan University and fell in love with the community.
For Randy St. Charles, opening the winery has been a lifesaver , literally.
At right, Randy St. Charles displays some popular wines. St. Charles Winery also has a root beer
beverage on the horizon. (Journal photo by
"I had five doctors tell me to get out of my other job. I was driving 50,000 miles a year," he said. "I feel for truck drivers, I really do."
"My wife and I were on vacation in New Hampshire when we decided to buy this place," St. Charles said. "Sometimes I miss the paychecks but not the job. We love what we do here."
St. Charles Winery, located at 1104 W. Washington St., Suite A in Marquette, is open from 3 to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and at other hours by appointment.
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"We can be open later, as needed, especially for private functions," he said. "We do a lot of those on Mondays. And like some of the local breweries, we invite people to bring in dinner, if you'd like, and enjoy our wines with the meal."
In fact, St. Charles Winery does cross-promotion with Ron's Tacos, which uses some of the winery's goods in its preparations.
"We have seen everything here," St. Charles said. "From a 40th anniversary celebration to a first date."
In addition to the hours his business is open to the public, Randy St. Charles spends much more time at the winery, crafting the wide varieties of wines his business offers. A batch of wine can be anywhere between 30 and 300 bottles, depending on the variety.
"I have been making beers, wines, meads and ciders for about 17 years," he said. "I always wanted to do the brewery thing. When the wine came into it, it was something different. I want to do hard ciders as well."
In fact, the day before he was interviewed, St. Charles received a letter from the Michigan Hard Cider Association, announcing its formation and asking if he might be interested in joining.
"I said 'where's the heck yes button?' It is something that we're very interested in," he said.
Root beer is another product on the horizon for St. Charles.
"We'd like to have that for the Farmer's Market. Kids would enjoy that," St. Charles said.
The Farmer's Market - which takes place on Saturdays in downtown Marquette - has been a blessing to the winery.
"We sell so much wine at the Farmer's Market, it's crazy," he said with a smile. "One Saturday, we sold 15 bottles of peach alone. Marquette has an amazing farmer's market. There have been 45 vendors every week and now with the changes at the Marquette Commons, they are going to add five more. As someone at the market said to me, there's no mall in the U.P. with 50 stores."
The most popular wine so far at St. Charles has been Maddie Paws, a pomegranate created in honor of a cat.
"People love it and there's charity behind it," he said. "$3 from every bottle sold goes to UPAWS (Upper Peninsula Animal Welfare Shelter)."
This particular wine has Maddie on the label. She was a senior cat who had belonged to a friend of the St. Charles. When her owner had to move into a residence that didn't allow cats. Maddie at 14 went to live with the St. Charles family but did not adjust well to the three cats and two dogs already in the home, so UPAWS helped to find a place for her.
"We paid all the fees and within three weeks, a great family adopted her," St. Charles said.
A few months ago, Maddie died at age 17 and the winery doubled the donation from each bottle for the next few days.
"We gave the proceeds to a fund that helps with the adoption fees for older pets," he said.
The best sellers locally, in addition to Maddie Paws, are fruit flavors like watermelon and strawberry.
"We make either of those and they sell out right away," St. Charles said.
Lisa and Randy St. Charles are so big on their adopted hometown, they pay tribute in many of their wines. There are, for instance, names like West Washington Cherry Tree and Yooper Tropics. And there are local iconic images on the labels, like the ore dock in Marquette's Lower Harbor and the view from Sugar Loaf Mountain.
Those in search of St. Charles Winery products can find them not only at the winery but at Econo Foods in Marquette; Jack's grocery store in Harvey; and Jubilee Foods along U.S. 41 in Ishpeming.
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 240.