Wines

Michigan's vineyards by Lake Michigan feature over 50 grape varieties, including European grapes and hybrids.

Michigan evolved into a significant player in the American wine scene – it's now the 7th largest producer in the United States. With a winemaking history dating back to 1679, Michigan initially focused on cold-hardy, native North American varieties.

Since then, Michigan's wine industry embraced European grapes as well as hybrid grapes, reflecting a dynamic blend of tradition and modernity.

Riesling

Riesling, Michigan's most planted grape, thrives in its cool climate and withstands harsh winters, benefiting from the Lake Effect and extended autumn to develop complex flavors and maintain high acidity.

This balance enables production of diverse styles, from dry to sweet wines, including sparkling wines, and even ice wines. Michigan Rieslings, known for their versatility, offer flavors ranging from citrus to tropical fruits and age gracefully, gaining unique aromas over time.

Key regions like Old Mission Peninsula AVA and Leelanau AVA showcase Riesling's aromatic intensity and diverse styles, thanks to their unique soil compositions and proximity to Lake Michigan.

Chardonnay

Chardonnay ranks as Michigan's second most prevalent grape, flourishing in its cool climate to produce both oaked and unoaked wines, as well as sparkling wines.

Michigan's Chardonnay, distinct for their lean, mineral-driven to fruit-forward profiles, avoid the heavy richness found in warmer climates and emphasize nuanced flavors.

Key wine regions like Old Mission Peninsula AVA and Leelanau Peninsula AVA contribute depth and complexity to the wines, showcasing the grape's versatility and the unique characteristics imparted by Michigan's varied terroir.

Pinot Grigio

Michigan's third most planted grape variety excels in the state's cooler climates, mirroring the conditions of its Northern Italian and Alsatian origins.

Michigan's Pinot Grigio is recognized for its crisp, semi-aromatic qualities, displaying a harmonious blend of fruitiness and acidity with flavors of pear, apple, and citrus. This balance showcases the grape's versatile expressions between old and new world styles.

Notable regions for Pinot Grigio in Michigan include the Lake Michigan Shore AVA, with its sandy loam soils ideal for expressive wines, and the Fennville AVA, where a unique microclimate and sandy soils contribute to concentrated and aromatic Pinot Gris wines.

Pinot Noir

Michigan's leading red grape, Pinot Noir, exemplifies the state's ability to produce red wines marked by complexity and elegance. Thriving in regions near Lake Michigan, you can expect a nuanced flavor profile, characterized by red cherry, raspberry, earthy undertones, and silky tannins.

The state's focus on low-yield, high-quality vineyard practices enhances the depth and sophistication of its Pinot Noir. Notably, the Old Mission Peninsula AVA and Leelanau Peninsula AVA are prime areas for Pinot Noir.

Hybrids

The introduction of hybrid grape varieties (a cross of American and European vine species) in the 1960s complemented Michigan's Vitis vinifera (European grapes) plantings. These varieties offer remarkable resilience to the state's cold winters.

Vidal Blanc stands out as the most significant hybrid variety. It's a favorite for ice wine production. Expect to find a focus on hybrids in the state's coldest wine regions, such as Tip of The Mitt AVA.


Michigan Wine Facts
  • Riesling is the most planted grape variety.
  • Pinot Noir is the most planted red grape variety.
  • There are 3,605 vineyard acres (1,460 hectares) in Michigan.
  • Michigan is the 7th largest producer of wine in the USA.
  • Vitis vinifera grapes (European varieties) constitute 70% of the total plantings.
  • Hybrid grapes, like Vidal, account for the remaining 30% of grapes.
  • There are more than 50 different varieties planted in Michigan.
  • Wine was first made in Michigan in 1679 by French explorers using Vitis riparia grapes.

SOURCES

U.S.Department of Agriculture

♦ Michigan Wine Country, Wine Grape Varieties

Drinks Business

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