Tip of the Mitt AVA

Explore Michigan's newest AVA, Tip of the Mitt. A very cool climate haven for hybrid grapes defining the edge of viticultural innovation.

The Tip of the Mitt, Michigan's newest American Viticultural Area (AVA) formed in 2016, is a testament to the state's burgeoning wine scene. You can expect crisp aromatic white wines and fruit forward reds.

Nestled at the top of Michigan's mitten-shaped peninsula, this region might be thought of as too cool for grapes, but being surrounded by water changes everything.

This AVA is uniquely positioned among Lake Michigan, Little Traverse Bay, Grand Traverse Bay, Lake Huron, and the Straits of Mackinac; that’s a lot of water! Its distinctive geography not only defines the area's aesthetic but also its viticultural identity, offering a blend of challenges and opportunities for winemaking.

Tip of the Mitt AVA at harvest time. Photo by: Petoskey Farms

Geography and Climate:

Spanning over 1.75 million acres, the Tip of the Mitt is Michigan's largest AVA, yet it has less than 200 acres (80 hectares) dedicated to viticulture. The AVA's geography is as diverse as its climate, influenced heavily by its proximity to surrounding water bodies. These meso climates vary significantly, with some areas benefiting from the moderating effects of the lakes while others face harsher, windier conditions.

The sandy soil, warming quickly in spring, provides an early start to the growing season. This variability creates a mosaic of microenvironments, each offering unique viticultural potential.

The region's climate is marked by its northern latitude which presents both challenges and opportunities. While the cold, long winters make growing Vitis vinifera tough, the area has embraced hybrid grapes. These varieties, bred for cold hardiness and disease resistance, are well-suited to the short growing seasons and can withstand the frigid temperatures, ensuring the production of high-quality wines.

Viticulture and Winemaking:

With a focus on hybrid grapes, predominantly developed by the University of Minnesota, the region has carved a niche for itself in the wine world.

Hybrid grapes, making up about 95% of the area's cultivation, are chosen for their ability to thrive in colder climates and their resistance to disease.

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