Lake Michigan Shore AVA

Discover Lake Michigan Shore AVA, where glacial soils, southern latitude, and the Lake Effect create a haven for red wines.

Lake Michigan Shore is a haven for red grape varieties and overall accounts for almost half of all the vineyard area in Michigan. It’s also renowned for its viticultural history, dating back to 1867.

Its strategic location alongside the inland ocean (aka: Lake Michigan) leverages the Lake Effect, especially during autumn, to moderate temperatures and extend the growing season. It is distinguished by its warm climate relative to other Michigan AVAs, owing to its more southerly latitude of 42 degrees north, (the same as Rome!).

This geographical advantage allows for a longer growing season by about two weeks, making it an ideal setting for a variety of grapes, particularly red, that aren’t easy to ripen in other parts of the state.

Lake Michigan Shore vineyards with big sky views. Photo by: Dablon Vineyards

Geography and Climate:

The Lake Michigan Shore AVA benefits significantly from its proximity to Lake Michigan, utilizing the lake effect to moderate autumn temperatures and extend the growing season. Its southerly location at 42 degrees north ensures a warmer climate and a growing season about two weeks longer than other Michigan AVAs.

The rolling hills here help prevent frost from being a problem in the spring and fall, and the moraine soils that were left by glacier retreat over 10,000 years ago give both great drainage and help the vines warm up quickly in the spring, allowing for a longer growing season.

Viticulture and Winemaking:

Established in 1867, the region's viticulture has a long history highlighted by the presence of Michigan's oldest winery, St. Julian.

Thanks to the extended growing season, red grapes flourish here, allowing for even the likes of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Carménère (!).

Quick Facts: