Image of a Chardonnay vineyard in Michigan. (Chateau Fontaine in the Leelanau Peninsula AVA) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)Governor Rick Snyder has declared April as "Michigan Wine Month" to honor Michigan's wide selection of quality wines and the wine industry's significant contribution to the economy.
The Michigan wine industry continues to grow at a steady pace. The Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council has added 11 new wineries to its roster over the last year -- for a total of 92. The council promotes those wineries that support Michigan agriculture by using predominantly Michigan grapes and other fruit for their wines. Along with newly opened wineries, expansion of several existing wineries has allowed for increased production to help meet the rising demand for quality wines made locally.
"We continue to see growth of Michigan wine sales -- a win for wineries, vineyards, and other small businesses statewide," said Greg O'Neil, council member and president of O.K. Distributors of St. Joseph, Mich. "As wine races toward the top spot in popularity among American consumers, Michigan-made wines are really kicking into gear. I attribute this growth in market share to the increased quality and availability of Michigan wines and to consumer interest in 'buying local' in these tough economic times."
Michigan wineries will begin to release new white wines from the 2011 vintage in April, as part of their Michigan Wine Month promotion. Winemakers report the quality of the 2011 wines is exceptional. Warm weather late in the season was of great benefit to wine grapes -- especially red grapes, which need a longer, warmer season to ripen fully. Most of the red wines from 2011 won't be released for a year or two, but some reds from the equally outstanding 2010 vintage will be released this spring.
Many events are planned this spring and early summer that will provide opportunities to meet winemakers and sample a variety of Michigan wines, including:
- What's Cooking Detroit: April 21 - Palace of Auburn Hills (http://www.whatscookingdetroit.com/)
- Michigan Wine Celebration: April 21-22 - Southeast Michigan Pioneer Wine Trail (http://www.pioneerwinetrail.com/)
- Michigan Wine Showcase: April 30 - The Rattlesnake Club, Detroit (www.michiganwines.com/showcase)
- Spring Sip & Savor: May 5-6 - Leelanau Peninsula Vintners (http://www.lpwines.com/)
- Blossom Days: May 19-20 - Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula (http://www.wineriesofoldmission.com/)
- Lake Michigan Shore Wine Festival: June 16 - Lake Michigan Shore Wine Country (http://www.miwinetrail.com/)
April will also see the release of the 2012 Michigan Wine Country magazine, an indispensable guide to the wines and wineries of Michigan. The magazine contains maps and touring information, as well as a popular section on "what's new at the wineries." To request a free copy of Michigan Wine Country, visit http://www.michiganwines.com/page.php?menu_id=97 or contact the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council at 517-241-1207. The magazine is also available at all Michigan wineries and Travel Michigan Welcome Centers.