SW Michigan Wine Trip (Photo credit: bcbeatty)
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 Grape and Wine Industry Council recognizes and promotes 101 wineries that support Michigan agriculture by using primarily Michigan grapes and other fruit for their wines. Michigan's wine grape acreage doubled over the past decade from 1,300 acres to 2,650 acres, according to a report released in 2012 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service.
Michigan's reputation as a quality wine producing region of the United States is growing, as evidenced by 218 gold medal awards earned by 35 producers of Michigan wine in national competitions in 2013. Michigan's wineries welcome more than 2 million visitors to their tasting rooms each year, and sales of Michigan wine in the state rose 5 percent in 2013.
Michigan wine sales have outpaced total wine sales over the past 12 years, doubling Michigan wineries' market share to 6.5 percent. "Michigan is one of the top five wine producing areas in the country, based on quality of our wines," stated Gordon Wenk, Chief Deputy Director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development and Chair of the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council. "Add in our beautiful wineries, wonderful scenery and great local food, and you have a gangbuster combination of agriculture and tourism. What better reason to celebrate?"
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 2013 vintage in April, as part of their Michigan Wine Month promotion. Most of the red wines from 2013 won't be released for a year or two, but some reds from the 2012 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 7 - The Rattlesnake Club, Detroit (www.michiganwines.com/showcase ) * Michigan Wine Celebration: April 12-13 - Southeast Michigan Pioneer Wine Trail (www.pioneerwinetrail.com ) * Spring Sip & Savor: May 3-4 - Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail (www.lpwines.com ) * Blossom Day: May 17 - Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula (www.wineriesofoldmission.com ) * Lake Michigan Shore Wine Festival: June 21 - Lake Michigan Shore Wine Country (www.miwinetrail.com )
April will also see the release of the 2014 Michigan Wine Country magazine, an indispensable guide to the wines and wineries of Michigan, featuring maps and touring information. Pick up a free copy at any Michigan winery or Travel Michigan Welcome Center. To request a copy, visit www.michiganwines.com or contact the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council at 517-284-5736.