May is ‘Michigan Wine Month’ here in the Mitten State. And we are proud of our Michigan vintners.
The Michigan wine industry has grown exponentially in the past few decades both in size and status. Once known just for their sweet fruity wines, Michigan vintners now produce wine recognized for its quality around the country and around the world.
Michigan’s diverse climate and soil produce a style of wine unique to the state. With its short growing season, you will likely not find a big bold Michigan red wine – the growing season is too short. For the same reason, you will not find rich white wines. What a wine consumer will find are wines of complexity generally with wonderful acidity perfect for food pairings.
Michigan has 13,700 acres of vines making us the 4th largest grape producing state in the nation
2850 acres of those vines are devoted to the production of wine, making Michigan 5th in the US for wine production
Wineries in Michigan welcome 2 million visitors a year contributing to the local economies
Michigan is home to 127 wineries bottling 2.4 million gallons of wine annually, an increase of 34% over the last five years
Michigan’s vineyard acreage has doubled over the last 10 years
There are five Michigan Wine Trails to visit for a comparison of wine from producers of similar location. The five are:
1. The Bayview Wine Trail -- following the shores of Lake Michigan’s Little Traverse Bay and the inland lakes of the Northwest Michigan Wine Region you will discover new wineries and old world style wines.
2. Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail -- the Lake Michigan shore line is known as the Napa Valley of the Midwest because the land is ideal for handcrafting fine wines.
3. Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail -- located just northwest of Traverse City, you can discover wonderful cool climate wines.
4. Southeast Michigan Wine Trail -- located closest to us in the Detroit area, you can spend a few hours or a few days visiting these wineries.
5. Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula -- located across the Bay from Leelanau, and northeast of Traverse City, you will find cool climate wines from some of the most iconic Michigan wineries.
Michigan grows a wide variety of grape varieties for every wine lover’s palate. From the more well known Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Gris to the indiginous varieties of Niagra, Concord, and Catawba to the hybrids of Seyval Blanc, Vignoles or Chancellor.
With so many wineries in the State and a lot within driving distance, go visit some of them. You will discover that while wine can be a “romantic” beverage, the vintners themselves are hard-working farmers with the training and magical powers to create that the beautiful juice we all enjoy. Many of the wineries in Michigan are small and you may find some of the winemakers working their tasting rooms. They are very accessible and love to talk about their craft.
Try something new. Never had a Seyval Blanc? It’s delicious. Vignoles? A wonderful variety. And the newest addition to some Michigan wineries, Gruner Veltliner. Gruner is grown primarily in Eastern Europe, with weather conditions similar to northern Michigan. Known as ‘GruVee’, seek out this light acidic white wine to go with your summer dishes.
Try something old. Michigan is fortunate to have one of the most world renowned sparkling wine producers – Larry Mawby. Larry’s home is on Leelanau Peninsula. He produces sparklers under two labels, ‘L. Mawby’ – sparkling wine produced in the traditional ‘Methode Champenoise’ as they do in Champagne and the ‘M. Lawrence’ label -- produced in the Charmat or Tank Method. All of Larry’s wines are wonderful and worth seeking out.
Try something sweet. The cold winters enable some Michigan vintners to produce an ice wine if the conditions are right in a given vintage. Ice Wine is a sweet wine produced when grapes are left on the vine to freeze. When the grapes freeze they lose some of the water in the grape leaving more delicious sugar to be fermented.
Riesling. A cold weather variety made famous in Germany, Michigan vintners create beautiful Rieslings from dry to sweet. Riesling is probably ‘the white wine’ of Michigan.
Cabernet Franc. A variety grown primarily in Bordeaux and the Loire in France, this grape is similar to Cabernet Sauvignon, just lighter and with less astringency. Michigan produces world class single varietal Cab Francs.
Whether it be this month or any other, go seek out Michigan wine. Find your favorite variety, producer and place within the State. You will not be disappointed.
For More About Michigan Wines
For a great resource on all things Michigan Wines, visit www.michiganwines.com.
You can also join our tour of the Leelanau and Old Mission Peninsulas wineries at an upcoming retreat, visit www.brutdetroit.com/events.