Michigan Wine Facts
Michigan has 14,600 acres of vineyards making Michigan the fourth largest grape-growing state.
- Most of this acreage is devoted to juice grapes such as Concord and Niagara.
- About 2,000 acres are devoted to wine grapes, making Michigan the eighth state in wine grape production in the nation.
- Vineyard area has increased more than 60% in the last 10 years.
Michigan's 73 commercial wineries produce more than 1 million gallons of wine annually, making Michigan 13th in wine production. The vast majority of production is from Michigan-grown grapes.
Wineries are popular tourist destinations, attracting more than 800,000 visitors annually.
The wine industry contributes $300 million annually to Michigan's economy.
Three types of grapes are used for wine in Michigan:
- Vinifera varieties - these are the classic European varieties such as Chardonnay, Riesling (the most widely planted white), Pinot Noir (the most widely planted red), Pinot Grigio/Gris and Cabernet Franc; about 65% of Michigan's wine grapes are vinifera. Since 1997, 90% of the new plantings in Michigan have been vinifera varieties.
- Hybrid varieties (sometimes called French/American hybrids) - these are botanical crosses between vinifera varieties and grapes native to North America. Typical names are Vidal, Chambourcin, Marechal Foch and Vignoles; about 35% of Michigan's wine grapes are hybrids.
- Native varieties - actually close relatives of true native varieties. Typical names are Concord and Niagara. About 3% of Michigan's wine is made from these varieties.
Most of Michigan's quality wine grapes grow within 25 miles of Lake Michigan. Here, the "lake effect" protects the vines with snow in winter, retards bud break in spring helping avoid frost damage, and extends the growing season by up to four weeks.
Michigan has four federally approved viticultural areas (AVAs). In the northwest part of the state, near Traverse City, lie the Leelanau Peninsula and the Old Mission Peninsula. This area has a growing season averaging 145 days and an average heat accumulation of 2,350 growing degree days; 51% of Michigan's wine grapes grow here. In the southwest part of the state lie the Lake Michigan Shore and Fennville appellations, where 45% of Michigan's wine grapes are grown. This area has a growing season averaging 160 days and an average heat accumulation of 2,750 growing degree days. Both are Region 6 on the USDA plant hardiness zone map.
Harvest begins for early hybrid varieties at the end of August in the southwest and may extend into November for late-ripening vinifera varieties in the northwest.
Increasingly, Michigan wines are receiving high honors at national and international competitions. In addition, the Michigan Wine and Spirits Competition provides for head-to-head comparisons of the best of Michigan. Results are posted online following each year's competition.
Michigan wineries make many styles of wine, from dry to sweet including Ice Wine, sparkling, fortified, fruit wines and eau-de-vie (fruit brandy).
Michigan wines are typically "cool climate" - clean, crisp, balanced wines that exhibit real varietal character.
Source: Michigan Grape & Wine Industry Council. www.michiganwines.com