By Viki Gudas
Michigan’s Grape & Wine Industry Council has declared May as Michigan Wine month for lots of reasons:
- Michigan is the fifth state in wine grape production in the nation, with southwest Michigan producing 45% of the grapes
- Vineyard area has doubled over the last 10 years
- Michigan’s 121 commercial wineries bottle more than 2.3 million gallons of wine annually, making Michigan 10th in wine production
- The wine industry contributes $300 million annually to Michigan’s economy
In Harbor Country, we’re fortunate to have two world class tasting rooms in Union Pier (Round Barn Winery and St. Julian) and a dozen more nearby. Wine tour operators like Harbor Country Adventures, Fruitful Vine, Grape & Grain, and Leisure Limo operate tours so that you can sit back and relax and leave the driving to them.
If you haven’t tasted a Michigan wine lately, you might be pleasantly surprised. Increasingly, Michigan wines are receiving high honors at national and international competitions and blind taste tests. Michigan wineries make many styles of wine, from dry to sweet including Ice Wine, sparkling, fortified, and fruit wines.
Southwest Michigan is also home to the Midwest’s first commercial teaching winery. The Wine Technology & Viticulture program at Lake Michigan College in Benton Harbor provides hands-on experience in wine-making and grape growing. The College will be opening a tasting room affiliated with the program (Lake Michigan Vintner’s) in downtown Baroda this spring.
Set your GPS to WINE and sample a glass or two of Michigan wine. You don’t have to wait till May, all wineries and tasting rooms are open year-round. You can find many of them on our website.