St. Julian Winery marks 100 years

Courtesy St. Julian Winery

A winery in Paw Paw celebrated its centennial with a new wine series and a release party.

St. Julian Winery said Wednesday, Nov. 17, it recently marked its 100th anniversary with a gathering in Paw Paw, where it has produced wines since 1936.

Italian-born Mariano Meconi founded the company in Canada in 1921 as the Border City Wine Cellars, later known as Meconi Wine Company, before moving to Detroit and then to the heart of West Michigan’s Lake Michigan shore American Viticultural Area, where it first operated under the moniker of The Italian Wine Company. The business has been known as St. Julian Winery since 1941.

“We have survived Prohibition, wars, The Great Depression, The Great Recession, fires, family tragedies, a pandemic and countless other challenges over our 100-year timeline,” said Dario Braganini, outstate sales director for St. Julian. “We are blessed to have not only endured but to have prospered and grown throughout the years, cultivating our beverage portfolio to include wine, cider and spirits, as well as expanding our agricultural footprint here in the ‘fruit belt’ region of Michigan.

“This year is a celebration of St. Julian as long-standing family company focused not only on today but on our future as an industry leader.”

To celebrate its anniversary, St. Julian’s winemakers created a Centennial Series of six 2019 Cabernet Sauvignons, all of which hail from St. Julian’s Mountain Road vineyard. The first five in the series were aged 14 months in French oak barrels from different cooperages, yielding varied results, and the sixth wine is a blend of the first five.

The limited-edition wines were released exclusively at St. Julian’s Centennial Series Release Party held earlier this fall in St. Julian’s newly opened barrel room. Guests were able to taste each of the wines with a perfectly paired appetizer and enjoy other limited and rare wines while mingling with the Braganini family owners, the winemakers, wine club members and area legislators.

U.S. Congressmen Fred Upton, Michigan Sen. Aric Nesbitt and Michigan Rep. Beth Griffin attended and presented John Braganini, president of St. Julian, with an exclusive centennial award honoring the milestone.

“It’s an honor to be here,” Nesbitt said. “Not many businesses make it five years, let alone 10 years, let alone 100 years, and so the state of Michigan would like to pay you a tribute for the past 100 years here at St. Julian.”

Prior to the party, winemakers Nancie Oxley and Kyle Totzke held a special educational seminar to share how barrels are like a winemaker’s “spice rack,” as well as how to taste the differences between barrel styles.

More information about St. Julian is at

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