The Winery at Black Star Farms is widely admired for the award-winning wines produced from its 160-acre vineyards on both the Old Mission and Leelanau Peninsulas. Now, the Black Star Farms is gaining kudos for its fruit-based brandies, too. At the 15th Annual Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition, held in Grand Rapids on July 28-30, Black Farm’s Spirit of Pear earned first place in the “spirits” division of the competition while its Spirit of Apple took third place.

The winery began its distillery in 1999, the second year after the winery began its first crush.  Black Star Farms says its fruit-based brandies are “known as eau de vie-style spirits, a staple in some European countries. Eau de vie is French for ‘water of life.’ The spirits are clear and represent the pure essence of fermented fruit. The balance of fruit and alcohol reflects both the artisan skill of the distiller and the quality of fruit. At the precise time, the distiller feels it is optimum to showcase the ‘spirit’ of the fruit; the brandy is bottled, often a single barrel at a time. Black Star Farms produces brandies from the best local cherries, pears, plums, raspberries, and grapes and sells exclusively through their tasting room locations in Suttons Bay and Old Mission Peninsula.”

These wines and spirits can be part of a gathering at Black Star Farms. The stunning venues here include the Aquarius Room at The Inn (capacity 150), Pegasus Barn (capacity 150), Arcturos Room (capacity 50), Hearth &Vine Restaurant (capacity 40), Hilltop Vineyard and various patios and courtyards. Both multi-day retreats and single-day meetings can be arranged, with team-building opportunities that include cooking classes, wine and spirits tastings and property tours. Additional activities, like trail hiking, sailing cruises, fishing outings, golf and guided bike rides, can be arranged. For more information, visit Bring Your Meetings to Black Star Farms.

Temperatures are starting to dip in Seattle, but if you want to get in one last outdoor gathering before winter, consider The Rooftop at WeWork Cap Hill. Located on the penthouse level on 11th Avenue near Seattle’s storied Pine and Pike Streets, the space offers inviting landscapes and spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. Capacity: 74.  Bring sweaters and scarves!


Taking photos of oneself isn’t just a thing you do at an event, it can be the event itself. Case in point: The Selfie Museum of Detroit has opened. The brainchild of Detroit local Kelli Cooke and her 14-year-old daughter, Jordyn Watson, the space features 20 Instagrammable and TikTok-ready interactive backdrops, featuring oversized ice-cream cones, a kissing booth, a red pay phone, a baby blue slide, and more. Group tickets are available. 


It began as the first Cadillac dealership outside of Detroit, then became a roller rink in the 1950s. Now, the High Five GR is reopened as a premier event space in downtown Grand Rapids. The original roller rink hardwood floors remain, as do the vaulted ceilings and oversized arched windows that showcase the city lights. What’s new is a state-of-the-art a/v system and an event team that can create custom floorplans and organize set up/teardown and load in/out logistics.