Michigan is home to more than 70 wineries and 4 federally approved viticultural areas (AVAs). In the northwest part of the state lie the Leelanau Peninsula and the Old Mission Peninsula. In the southwest lie the Lake Michigan Shore and Fennville AVAs. Experiencing explosive growth over the past 10 years, wine production has increased from 365,000 gallons in 1999 to 1,169,000 gallons in 2009. Michigan grows a variety of wine grapes, especially cool-climate varieties like Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay, Vidal Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Blanc.
The majority of wine grapes are grown within 25 miles of Lake Michigan where the lake-effect provides a favorable microclimate for grapes. The northern wine regions have a 145-day growing season and a 160-day season for the southern regions. With more than 2,000 acres devoted to grape vines, the majority of wine production is from Michigan-grown grapes (a statistic I love to see).
This week we’ll sample award-winning wines from the 7 distinct wineries that comprise the Old Mission Peninsula appellation, 2 Lads, Black Star Farms, Bowers Harbor Vineyards, Brys Estate, Chateau Chantal, Chateau Grand Traverse, and Peninsula Cellars. Lying on the 45th parallel like Bordeaux, Milan and other wine-producing regions, the Peninsula stretches north 18 miles into Grand Traverse Bay. Be sure to check back and jump on the Traverse City Wine Trail for a taste of Michigan. Cheers!
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