Michigan Wine - Old Tradition, New Respectibility "
Michigan wine has long been relatively unknown to the consumer market, but times have certainly changed.
OVERVIEW OF THE AREA
Michigan is the eighth largest grape growing state with over 1800 acres, making close to 400,000 cases of wine annually from around 56 wineries. The western shore of Michigans lower peninsula has been known as wine country, but there are other regions starting to show promise. The grape varieties used in Michigan are Vinifera (65%), Hybrid (35%), and Native varieties (3%). Vinifera varieties including Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio, and Cabernet Franc, with Riesling and Pinot Noir being the most widely planted. Hybrid, sometimes called French/American Hybrids) include names like Vidal, Chambourcin, Marechal Foch, Vignoles, are botanical crosses of vinifera and grapes local to the Americas. Native varieties include Concord and Niagara, all growing within 25 miles of the Lakes. As the waters protect the vines from snow in winter, and slows bud break in spring to avoid frost damage in the spring.
Michigan wine areas are in four approved AVAs (approved viticultural areas), Northwest with the Leelanau Peninsula, and the Old Mission Peninsula, Southwest, with the Shore, and Fennville appellations. Northwest accounting for 51% of the Michigans wine grown, and Southwest accounting for 45%. Both areas have received national and international awards, which range in style from dry to sweet, including Ice Wine, Sparkling, Fortified, Fruit wines, and Eau-de-Vie(Fruit Brandy). This cool climate offers clean, crisp, balanced wines that show their true varietal character. Just like Bordeaux and Chianti, the Michigan wine growing area is at the 45th parallel.
TYPES OF GRAPES GROWN
Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio; shows very well due to the cooler climate just as Northern Italy, and Alsace. Area professionals say this is their best white variety, as seen with the number of acres being planted.
Pinot Blanc; appealing white wine.
Chardonnay; Michigan wineries are offering oaked and un-oaked versions.
Gewürztraminer; shows typical exotic aromas and flavors of lychee nuts, rose petals, and orange peels. Although, a difficult grape to grow, several wineries have proven to be successful.
Johannisberg Riesling; being an excellent cool climate grape known in Germany and Alsace, it also shows well in Michigan. There can be dry to sweeter styles grown in those regions, most produce drier styles. Not withholding the excellent Ice wines.
Pinot Noir; the notable red grape of Burgundy, is widely planted in Michigan. As all Pinot Noir regions; when grown in appropriate plots, this wine shows complex and elegant wines.
Merlot; is an extremely popular grape in Michigan. If cared for properly, planted right, and not over cropped, will show a full bodied wine.
Cabernet Franc; known as a great blending grape in Bordeaux, is less astringent, and lighter than Cabernet Sauvignon.
Native American Varieties; known as vitis labrusca, including Concord, Niagara, and Catawba.
French/American Hybrids; crosses between European and Native varieties. The hybrids are resistant to disease and cold, therefore being popular to growers in the Eastern United States.
Vignoles; This white skinned grape can produce sparkling wine, dry wines, and intense late harvest wines.
Chambourcin; This black skinned grape grows in the long growing southwest portion of the state. With the extra 20 days of growing season, the area produces dark, concentrated, excellent structured, and pleasant wines.
Seyval Blanc; is a great blending grape, that adds elegance to assertive grapes like Vidal and Vignoles.
Vidal Blanc; also another blending grape with pleasant aromas.
Chancellor; dark and full bodied red grape that grows in southwest portion of Michigan.
Marechal Foch; an exotic red wine, and also used to produce blush wine.
Chardonel; a lighter wine similar to Chardonnay.
Traminette; similar to Gewurztraminer.So, what's next? Pop the cork on a Michigan Wine Today!
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