Cranberry Dessert wine at Round Barn Winery, Distillery & Brewery in Baroda, Michigan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Michigan wine sales have outpaced total wine sales over the past 10 years, doubling Michigan wineries' market share to 6.5 percent. The Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council has added 11 new wineries to its roster over the last year -- for a total of 101 wineries that support Michigan agriculture by using primarily Michigan grapes and other fruit for their wines.
Michigan's wineries welcome more than 1 million visitors to their tasting rooms each year, and Michigan's wine and grape industries contribute more than $800 million to the state's economy annually. "I am proud to acknowledge the outstanding recent growth of the Michigan wine industry," noted Gordon Wenk, Chief Deputy Director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development, and Chair of the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council. "The industry is a shining example of value-added agriculture, contributing to the agricultural and tourism economies of our beautiful state. The quality of our wines, unique local foods and the scenic beauty of 'Pure Michigan' make Michigan an unparalleled winery touring region in the U.S."
Michigan wines consistently win high awards at competitions around the country, and Michigan increasingly is recognized nationally for the quality of the wines produced. Increased interest and demand for these high-quality wines has sparked an increase in wine grape vineyards. Michigan's wine grape acreage doubled over the past decade from 1,300 acres to 2,650 acres, according to a report released last summer by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service. The USDA report is based on the 2011 Michigan Fruit Survey, which collected data from grape growers throughout the state. The complete results of the survey are available online and can be accessed from www.michiganwines.com/fast-facts.
April is a great time to kick off winery touring. Travelers can benefit from off-season rates and overnight packages at hotels and B&Bs near wine country. Tasting rooms are less busy in the spring, and tasting room staff are delighted to provide visitors with extra attention. Michigan wineries will begin to release new white wines from the 2012 vintage in April, as part of their Michigan Wine Month promotion. Most of the red wines from 2012 won't be released for a year or two, but some reds from the outstanding 2011 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:
- Michigan Wine Showcase: April 15 -- The Rattlesnake Club, Detroit (www.michiganwines.com/showcase)
- Michigan Wine Celebration: April 20-21 -- Southeast Michigan Pioneer Wine Trail (www.pioneerwinetrail.com)
- Spring Sip & Savor: May 4-5 -- Leelanau Peninsula Vintners (www.lpwines.com)
- Blossom Day: May 18 -- Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula (www.wineriesofoldmission.com)
- Lake Michigan Shore Wine Festival: June 15 -- Lake Michigan Shore Wine Country (www.miwinetrail.com)