The number of wineries in the state continues to grow, with 117 producers of Michigan wine currently recognized by the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council, a program within the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development that is charged with supporting industry growth.
The cold winters of 2014 and 2015 challenged the industry with reduced wine grape yields, creating a limited supply of grapes for some consumers’ favorite varietals. However, Michigan vintners produce wine from nearly 50 different wine grapes, including many cold-hardy varieties, so consumers will still find a wide selection of wines available in winery tasting rooms. In addition, many wineries have an abundant supply on hand from the high-yielding 2012 and 2013 vintages.
“We appreciate the support of our loyal customers,” said Marie-Chantal Dalese, CEO of Chateau Chantal, on Old Mission Peninsula. “The industry will work through this rough patch handed to us by Mother Nature and will come out of it with new knowledge and experience regarding our vineyard practices and sites that will help us perform even better in the future. Our wines are gaining national attention for quality, and we will continue earning a solid reputation for excellence.”
That national attention is evidenced by 230 awards earned by 32 producers of Michigan wine in national competitions in 2014. Consumers are paying attention; sales of Michigan wine has doubled over the past 10 years, outpacing the growth in all wine sales in Michigan and increasing Michigan wineries’ market share to 6.5 percent.
Michigan wineries welcome more than 2 million visitors each year.
“April is an ideal time to venture out and sample wines in winery tasting rooms,” said Gordon Wenk, deputy director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and chair of the Council. “They’re not as busy as later in the season, and winery owners and staff have more time to spend with customers and help them learn about their wines in a more relaxed atmosphere.”
April also marks the start of wine festival season and numerous events that showcase Michigan wines. The following are just a sample; visit www.michiganwines.com/events for a complete list.
* Michigan Wine Celebration: April 11-12 – Southeast Michigan Pioneer Wine Trail (pioneerwinetrail.com)
* Michigan Wines Showcase: April 20 – The Rattlesnake Club, Detroit (michiganwines.com/showcase)
* Spring Sip & Savor: May 2-3 – Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail (lpwines.com)
* Blossom Day: May 16 – Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula (wineriesofoldmission.com)
* Lake Michigan Shore Wine Festival: June 20 – Lake Michigan Shore Wine Country (miwinetrail.com)
Michigan Wine Month is kicked off by the release of the 2015 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.
Photo by Sean Naber