Happy Michigan Wine Month!
With 13,700 acres under vine, Michigan is currently the 4th largest grape-growing state in the US with the #6 spot for production, just a hair behind Oregon. Most of the acreage is devoted to Niagara and Concord grapes for table use, which make up about 3% of wine production in the state.
The heaviest wine production comes from European vitis vinifera grapes such as Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Gamay, Gewürztraminer, Merlot, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Syrah to name a few. European grape growths have continued to dominate the new plantings in the state.
There are a few plantings of French/American Hybrids in the state that account for just under 30% of the state’s wine production. Some highlights include Cayuga, Chambourcin, and Vidal Blanc.
There are 5 AVAs in Michigan:
- Old Mission Peninsula AVA
- Leelanau Peninsula AVA
- Tip of the Mitt AVA
- Lake Michigan Shore AVA
- Fennville AVA
The award for the best AVA name in the US goes to “Tip of the Mitt”, hands down!
Most quality grape growths grow within an area 25 miles from Lake Michigan, protected from the cold winters and assisted with waking up in the spring by the Lake’s microclimate. Old Mission Peninsula AVA falls in this area, and cooler weather growths like Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Franc, to name a few, do very well here due to the cooler northern climate.
Combined with the Leelanau Peninsula AVA in the Lake Michigan area, both appellations account for over 50% of the state’s wine production.
Wines produced in the state range from dry to sweet, still to sparkling, and even Eau de Vie brandies are made from the grapes.
While acquiring wines from Michigan in most other states will require some internet knowhow, they are available, and from our experience, well worth the sleuth work to track down, just be mindful if it is a sweet wine or not as there is a number of semi-sweet and sweet offerings that are easily found more readily online.
So take a moment this month to try something new or different and get a bottle of Michigan wine and toast to the state that showed up late to the party (the industry in Michigan didn’t begin till after the repeal of prohibition) and still jumped to some of the top spots in domestic growth and production!