LANSING: April has been declared “Michigan Wine Month” to honor our state’s wide selection of quality wines and the wine industry’s significant contribution to the economy, Gov. Rick Snyder said.
The number of wineries in the state continues to grow, with 117 producers of Michigan wine currently recognized by the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council, a program within the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development that is charged with supporting industry growth.
The cold winters of 2014 and 2015 challenged the industry with reduced wine grape yields, creating a limited supply of grapes for some consumers’ favorite varietals. However, Michigan vintners produce wine from nearly 50 different wine grapes, including many cold-hardy varieties, so consumers will still find a wide selection of wines available in winery tasting rooms. In addition, many wineries have an abundant supply on hand from the high-yielding 2012 and 2013 vintages.
“We appreciate the support of our loyal customers,” said Marie-Chantal Dalese, CEO of Chateau Chantal, on Old Mission Peninsula. “The industry will work through this rough patch handed to us by Mother Nature and will come out of it with new knowledge and experience regarding our vineyard practices and sites that will help us perform even better in the future. Our wines are gaining national attention for quality, and we will continue earning a solid reputation for excellence.”
That national attention is evidenced by 230 awards earned by 32 producers of Michigan wine in national competitions in 2014. Consumers are paying attention; sales of Michigan wine has doubled over the past 10 years, outpacing the growth in all wine sales in Michigan and increasing Michigan wineries’ market share to 6.5 percent.
Michigan wineries welcome more than 2 million visitors each year.
“April is an ideal time to venture out and sample wines in winery tasting rooms,” said Gordon Wenk, deputy director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and chair of the Council. “They’re not as busy as later in the season, and winery owners and staff have more time to spend with customers and help them learn about their wines in a more relaxed atmosphere.”