Wine in Michigan

The place for all things wine, focused on serious wine discussions.

Moderators: Jenise, David M. Bueker, Robin Garr

Wine in Michigan

Postby Daniel Paulson » Wed May 24, 2006 3:25 am

Hello All,
My wife and I are about to move from the beautiful Shenandoah Valley here in Virginia to the sunny beaches of Detroit. I am aware that there are winemakers in Michigan, but I'm not very familiar with area. Are there any wineries that come recommended? Please advise.

Cheers,
Daniel
If your heart is warm with happiness, you'll need a glass - if sorrow chills your heart, have two!
-Hannu
Daniel Paulson
Cellar rat
 
Posts: 11
Joined: Sun Apr 16, 2006 3:58 am
Location: Harrisonburg, Virginia

Re: Wine in Michigan

Postby Robin Garr » Wed May 24, 2006 9:21 am

Daniel, I hope you get more information from local folks, but I can offer a couple of generalizations. Michigan is definitely one of the stronger wine-producing states east of the Rockies, with a lot of potential. Many wine geeks feel that Riesling is the grape they ought to be focusing on, but they also make some other vinifera varieties and the usual Eastern French-hybrids.

As far as I know, virtually all the state's commercial wineries are on the western side of the state, along the east shore of Lake Michigan, where the lake-effect snows protect the vineyards from winter kill. The biggest concentration of wineries, I believe, is around Traverse City and the Leelanau Peninsula, although there are also some big ones farther south, in the southwest corner of the state. None around Detroit and Ann Arbor that I know of, and none I'm aware of in the Upper Peninsula, where winters likely are simply too cold.

Chateau Grand Traverse and Mawby both have excellent reputations, and Boskydel used to, although I haven't heard from the latter recently.

Stay tuned and check in again, others may be along with more specifics.
User avatar
Robin Garr
Forum Janitor
 
Posts: 17034
Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2006 2:44 pm
Location: Louisville, KY

Re: Wine in Michigan

Postby Howie Hart » Wed May 24, 2006 9:42 am

A quick google search turned up:
http://www.michiganwines.com/Wineries/wineries.html
Robin is generally correct, but in reviewing the link, there are a few scattered wineries in other parts of the state, including the Upper Peninsula. I recall having a very nice Foch from a winery near the shores of Lake Huron many years ago, but can't remember the name.
User avatar
Howie Hart
The Hart of Buffalo
 
Posts: 5919
Joined: Thu Mar 23, 2006 5:13 pm
Location: Niagara Falls, NY

Re: Wine in Michigan

Postby Bob Ross » Wed May 24, 2006 9:46 am

Welcome, Daniel. I attended an interesting seminar on Michigan wine in November 2000 at a AWS convention in Cleveland. Although the information is dated, the seminar was very well done, and you may find some useful background information in my notes.

Two Great Vintages from Michigan. David Creighton, Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council.

A seminar on Michigan wines was given by David Creighton during the American Wine Society Conference November 9 – 11 in Cleveland. Creighton has been a wine hobbyist and collector for 25 years, and serves as a Promotional Specialist for the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council. He gave an very interesting and informative survey of Michigan wines. The council maintains a web site at michiganwines.com, and has a good quarterly complimentary publication devoted to Michigan wine. Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council, P.O. Box 30017, Lansing, MI 48909.

Creighton gave us a brief overview of Michigan wine:

Michigan has four federally-approved viticulture areas: Lake Michigan Shore, Fennville, Old Mission Peninsula and Leelanau Peninsula.

Michigan’s viticulture areas are mainly located on the west side of the state, close to Lake Michigan. Prevailing cool winds off the lake prevent premature budding of the vines in the spring and subsequent frost damage. The growing season is extended into fall with the help of warm breezes from the lake. This seasonal phenomenon is called the ‘Lake Effect’.

The Northernmost of Michigan's wine regions is located on the 45th parallel, the same latitude as the great European regions of Bordeaux and Chianti Classico. But, of course, it is much colder in Michigan. Creighton gave us detailed maps showing elevations, temperature ranges and other climatic information.

Michigan now has 25 commercial wineries. Each has a tasting room on site and several have additional tasting rooms throughout the state. The densest concentrations are found in the two main regions of wine production — southwest Michigan and the Traverse City area.

Wineries in Michigan are popular tourist destinations, attracting more than 350,000 visitors each year.

Creighton said that 1998 and 1999 were both excellent vintages for Michigan (the best since 1991), with a long, hot summer and no serious drought.

The Wines:

1999 Chateau Chantal Pinot Grigio Old Mission Peninsula Michigan. $10 to $11. [Chantal has a lovely site North of Traverse City with 60 acres of vineyards, three tasting rooms and a bed and breakfast inn. chateauchantal.com] Light yellow color; soft aromas and taste, no oak (100% stainless), fairly thick, harsh edges. T2*.

1999 Tabor Hill Dry Riesling Lake Michigan Shore Michigan. $9.00. Pale yellow color; an impression of sweetness in the nose but not sweet on the palate, good fruit with flinty characteristics; full mouth feel; short finish. T2*.

1999 Ciccone Vineyard and Winery Gewürztraminer Leelanau Peninsula Michigan. $17.00. Madonna’s father. Creighton said Tony Ciccone is a private, devout, shy person, fairly presented in the Madonna video, and completely devoted to his vines and the winery, both of which are quite small. [The label has a long, inspirational message; extract: “Tony and his five brothers are forever grateful for their parent’s love of wine and their sacrifices.”] Pale yellow color; intense aroma – it “screams Gewürzt like all good Gewürztraminer should” according to Creighton; medium mouth feel; very dry; some bitter edges but still a very pleasant drinking wine. T2*+. Email: sucho2@aol.com

1998 Chateau Grand Traverse Barrel Fermented Chardonnay Old Mission Michigan. $12.50. Good Chardonnay aroma; light fruit tastes with lots of oak; melon flavors; vanillin well integrated, but plank load quantities, good acidity. T1*. (Creighton said that the winemaker, Bernd Croissant, had intentionally made this wine in this California style “to show that he could” and could get the lofty points awarded to this style of Chardonnay. Wasted effort, in my opinion. I liked Bacchus, the winery dog, much more: cgtwines.com/bacchus.jpg.) cgtwines.com

1998 Leelanau Cellars Meritage Leelanau Peninsula Michigan. $20.00. 13.5% alcohol; 50% Merlot, 50% Cabernet Franc. French and American oak. Bright red color; medium hue; intense fruit aromas; subtle fruit taste with firm acids and mild tannins. The wine developed nicely over a period of 45 minutes, the fruit becoming a bit strong, and the tannins and acids melding a bit better. Needs time, but query whether the fruit will last. A couple of us thought the blend would have been improved with 10 to 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, but Creighton said Michigan was too cold for Cabernet Sauvignon and that there was a strong tradition of using only Michigan juice to make Michigan wine. T2*. [I was surprised a the Meritage label; Creighton said all it took was paying $200 a year and following a few simple rules to obtain a license to the name.]

1998 Bel Lago Pinot Noir 1998 Leelanau Peninsula Michigan. $18 to $20. 12.5% alcohol. Deep red color, medium hue, good fruit aromas, quite forward, light fruit tastes and light tannins, almost no acidity, pretty and not intense, a sipper, showing very well for a soft Pinot Noir style today. T2*+ (According to Creighton, the owner and winemaker, Robert Sarniak, is a professor at Michigan University who trained in Missouri and maintains a large number of experimental grapes – “befitting a researcher.” bellago.com

1998 St. Julian Chancellor Lake Michigan Shore Michigan. $9.00. 12% alcohol. The oldest and largest winery in Michigan, making one third of Michigan’s wine and 40th largest winery in the US. This wine was Best of Show for reds at the Michigan State Fair. Deep red color; deep hue; one note aroma, quite intense and pleasant if you like the aroma; lots of fruit in the taste, not subtle but quite nice; light oak, nicely balanced, good finish albeit that same single note persisted. Nice and blowsy! T3*. [Note: the grapes are flash heated, then crushed, to yield the deep red color, in effect, treated like white grapes. Some folks, according to Creighton, are offended by the technique, but it is used by Chateau Beaucastel generally without comment from critics.]

1998 Fenn Valley Late Harvest Vignoles Lake Michigan Shore Michigan. $12.50. 10.25% alcohol. 5% residual sugar, but the good acids and superb balance make this a very nice wine with Foie Gras – and not just a dessert wine. Good fruit, sweet and tart. T3*. [Miserable label with a photo of a reef squid taken by the wine maker; absolutely no connection with the wine except a portion of the profits go to conserving reefs.] fennvalley.com

David received a strong ovation for an excellent showing of Michigan wines and his presentational skills.


I believe David is still very active on the Michigan wine scene; he sometimes contributes to WLDG if he gets wind of a discussion of Michigan wines. Here's a link to a recent article and some contact info:

http://www.michiganwines.com/Media/news/01092006.html

Certainly the Michigan Wine Council does a great job publicizing Michigan wines: http://www.michiganwines.com/Contact/contact.html

Regards, Bob
Last edited by Bob Ross on Wed May 24, 2006 3:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Bob Ross
Wine guru
 
Posts: 5862
Joined: Sun Mar 26, 2006 11:39 pm
Location: Franklin Lakes, NJ

Re: Wine in Michigan

Postby Ed Draves » Wed May 24, 2006 10:00 am

I have had some outstanding (world Class) riesling from Ch Grand Traverse.
Ed Draves
Wine guru
 
Posts: 576
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 12:15 pm

Re: Wine in Michigan

Postby David Creighton » Wed May 24, 2006 11:43 am

Hi Daniel - you could contact me by phone if you wish. maybe start by emailing me your number at creightond@michigan.gov . there is quite a bit to like here. best regards; david
david creighton
David Creighton
Wine guru
 
Posts: 1235
Joined: Wed May 24, 2006 11:07 am
Location: ann arbor, michigan

Re: Wine in Michigan

Postby Robin Garr » Wed May 24, 2006 12:02 pm

creightond wrote:there is quite a bit to like here.


David, in addition to any personal advice you give Daniel privately, it would be great if you could post an overview here for the permanent record!
User avatar
Robin Garr
Forum Janitor
 
Posts: 17034
Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2006 2:44 pm
Location: Louisville, KY

Re: Wine in Michigan

Postby Hoke » Wed May 24, 2006 12:33 pm

There are some truly fine Rieslings and Gewurztraminers being made in Michigan right now. Well worth seeking out.

In particular, there are some wines from the Peninsula that easily held their own amidst a collection of standout Rieslings from around the world in a recent Society of Wine Educators Riesling seminar/tasting.

And if memory serves a Michigan winery took honors two years running in San Francisco.
User avatar
Hoke
Achieving Wine Immortality
 
Posts: 10379
Joined: Sat Apr 15, 2006 2:07 am
Location: Portland, OR

Re: Wine in Michigan

Postby Bob Ross » Wed May 24, 2006 3:10 pm

Welcome, David. It's awfully tough to beat you to the punch if someone mentions wines from Michigan. :-)

It's great to see you are still in action. And, like Robin, I would love to know the current state of play in Michigan. What's the sitch on shipping, for example.

Regards, Bob
User avatar
Bob Ross
Wine guru
 
Posts: 5862
Joined: Sun Mar 26, 2006 11:39 pm
Location: Franklin Lakes, NJ

Re: Wine in Michigan

Postby David Creighton » Wed May 24, 2006 5:25 pm

ok, here goes
The Liquor Control Commission has issued licensing forms - and now any winery, instate or out, must have that license to ship to michigan residents.

the Southwest part of the state received some freeze damage in april - mostly to juice grapes; but early budding vinifera and hybrids were damaged as well. it may involve 40% of the total winegrape crop - 100% for some, zero for others.

2005 was absolutly the best vintage ever and the reds in particular are very dark and concentrated.

my organization does promotion and supports research and other industry support for wineries who use predominantly michigan grown fruit. there are now 45 such wineries(but difficult to compare that number with states whose organizations count ALL wineries - e.g. indiana and illinois).

michigan wineries are now selling locally grown syrah, marsanne, viognier, muscat and sauvignon blanc - all finished dry. more syrah and sauvignon are being planted by a number of wineries. one winery has planted chenin blanc.

the new magazine - bigger and better :D - is available at no cost at http://www.michiganwines.com. one section recounts what i believe we should be known for in terms of wine styles - to which i would now add dry rose'. it is also available as a pdf online.

thus endith the short version
david creighton
David Creighton
Wine guru
 
Posts: 1235
Joined: Wed May 24, 2006 11:07 am
Location: ann arbor, michigan

Re: Wine in Michigan

Postby David T » Wed May 24, 2006 7:09 pm

Three of the best Michigan wineries, to my mind, are Peninsula Cellars for Riesling, Mawby for vignoles and sparkling wine (see especially their Blanc de Blanc, Talisman, Cremant, and Mille bottlings), and Wyncroft for Chardonnay and Riesling (unlike the other two, they are located in the southwest part of the state, not up by Traverse City; you'll only be able to find their wines at restaturants, not at retail). I've also liked the whole cluster Riesling from Ch. Grand Traverse.

Vintage quality really does seem to vary dramatically, so I'm glad to hear that 2005 was a good one. The Peninsula Cellars Rieslings that won the big medals a couple of years back improved with a bit of age -- they were nice on release, but even a year later they had a lot more depth and complexity. (OTOH do not age your Mawby Vignoles, something I learned the hard way about a month ago when I opened my last bottle of the '02....!)

Cheers, David
Last edited by David T on Wed May 24, 2006 7:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
David T
Cellar rat
 
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Apr 04, 2006 12:51 pm

Re: Wine in Michigan

Postby David T » Wed May 24, 2006 7:14 pm

Oh I almost forgot -- no one has mentioned the icewines. Black Star Farms is a very good producer, though they are pricey.
David T
Cellar rat
 
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Apr 04, 2006 12:51 pm

Re: Wine in Michigan

Postby Daniel Paulson » Thu May 25, 2006 4:55 pm

Hello All,

Thank you for the info! I'm becoming increasingly confortable with the idea of moving to Michigan after 26 years in the mid-Atlantic.

One more quick question... What is icewine?

Cheers,
Daniel
If your heart is warm with happiness, you'll need a glass - if sorrow chills your heart, have two!
-Hannu
Daniel Paulson
Cellar rat
 
Posts: 11
Joined: Sun Apr 16, 2006 3:58 am
Location: Harrisonburg, Virginia

Re: Wine in Michigan

Postby Bob Ross » Thu May 25, 2006 5:00 pm

Here's Jancis Robinson's definition, Daniel.

Direct Anglicization of the German Eiswein, sweet wine made from ripe grapes picked when frozen on the vine and pressed so that water crystals remain in the press and the sugar content of the resulting wine is increased. This sort of true ice wine is a speciality of Canada where it is written Icewine and where more is produced each year than in any other country (50,000 cases in a good year by the late 1990s). It is also increasingly made in Luxembourg, Oregon, and in Michigan in the United States. The term has also been used in other English-speaking, wine-producing countries for wines made by artificial freeze concentration, or cryoextraction.

Ice wine from Canada is primarily from Ontario and British Columbia and a surprisingly good one comes from New Jersey.

Regards, Bob
User avatar
Bob Ross
Wine guru
 
Posts: 5862
Joined: Sun Mar 26, 2006 11:39 pm
Location: Franklin Lakes, NJ

Re: Wine in Michigan

Postby Hoke » Thu May 25, 2006 5:10 pm

Daniel:

Icewine is almost literally that. It is very rare and usually quite expensive.

The vintner simply selects certain clusters of grapes and allows them to stay on the vine well past the normal harvest. Usually this means the grapes dry out somewhat, which means more concentrated sugars from less water content in the grape.

Then they wait, and hope that the first freeze of the winter occurs in such a way they can quickly harvest the grapes just as they begin to freeze. The water portion of the grape freezes more quickly than the sugar-saturated juice, further intensifying the sugar content avaialable. When the grape skin is broken the sugar/juice runs out and leaves the semi-frozen water behind.

The wine is then fermented. What comes out of this process is usually an intensely sugar-rich wine....icewine.

With all due respect to Icewine, though, I honestly believe it is more the process than the product (and the relative scarcity, since ice wine cannot be made every year, and even then is a chancy and therefore more expensive item) that brings the acclaim, Daniel.

As an occasional treat, or an oddity, Icewine is fine. But it's hardly an everyday wine, and hardly something I look forward to having more than once or so a year.

And, seriously, it simply emphsizes that your location is considered on the marginal edge of good grape cultivation. That may be a good thing. And it may not be...
User avatar
Hoke
Achieving Wine Immortality
 
Posts: 10379
Joined: Sat Apr 15, 2006 2:07 am
Location: Portland, OR

Re: Wine in Michigan

Postby Paul B. » Thu May 25, 2006 5:49 pm

creightond wrote:michigan wineries are now selling locally grown syrah, marsanne, viognier, muscat and sauvignon blanc - all finished dry.

How happy this makes me. Perhaps the wave of dryness really is starting to sweep across our continent. May it be so!
Hybrid Wines Online:
http://hybridwines.blogspot.ca
User avatar
Paul B.
Hybrid Guru
 
Posts: 2024
Joined: Thu Mar 23, 2006 12:38 am
Location: Ontario, Canada

Re: Wine in Michigan

Postby OW Holmes » Fri May 26, 2006 11:13 am

Daniel,
Welcome to Michigan. You will be very close to MoCOOL, one of the greatest wine events ever. Hope you join us.
As for Michigan wineries, Brian Ulbrich of Peninsula Cellars has been making some outstanding wines, particularly his Gewurztraminer and Semi-Dry Riesling. The 2002 won about everything, including best white at the SanFrancisco Inti' and best Riesling at the East coast Int'l, and the 2004 has won just about everything locally. Brian and his wife have also come out with a new line on their own label: "Left Foot Charley." Dry Riesling, very nice. Peninsula Cellars is on Old Mission Peninsula, as is Brys Estate, a brand new one and maker of a very nice semi-dry riesling, and Chateau Grand Traverse, which has been around for years and makes dry, semi-dry, and late harvest riesling.
Mawby makes some excellent sparklers over on Leelanau Peninsula, and there are a ton of wineries up there - Black Star Farms among them. Good place to tour.
And Wyncroft in Buchanan, I believe, makes a great meritage but unfortunately it is only sold by the case and only at the winery. But you are likely to see it on winelists in Detroit area restaurants, so I would definitely try it. I think Jim and Rae Lee Lester only give tours of Wyncroft by appointment, and I've been meaning to do that, but haven't yet. It would be a nice stop on the way to Chicago some time.
Those are my favorites locally. With the exception of one glass of Wyncroft's signature wine, I have yet to find a good red from Michigan, but this year sounds better so we'll see.
Again, welcome.
-OW
User avatar
OW Holmes
Wine guru
 
Posts: 745
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 4:57 pm
Location: Grand Rapids, MI

Re: Wine in Michigan

Postby Mark Hugger » Wed May 31, 2006 1:01 pm

Felt compelled to mention this Southeastern Michigan winery. This year, I planted some vines out back (here near Ann Arbor) and had some questions that I couldn't find easy answers for on-line. My wife and I drove out to Grass Lake, 30 odd miles west of A2. Kip Barber runs Lone Oak Vineyard Estates. Over the tasting counter, he provided me an hour's worth of information on backyard growing.

Obviously, I had to buy a bottle after all his help. The 2003 Seyval Blanc paired well with an artichoke and roasted red pepper salad. Despite its greenish gold tint, it had nice peachy fruit and a dry finish. Only bought the bottle as a thank-you for Kip's advice, but suspect I will be tempted now each time I pass his I-94 exit in the future.

http://info.detnews.com/wine/wineriesdi ... .cfm?id=32
if I were all the man that he is cat...

--Bukowski
User avatar
Mark Hugger
Cellar rat
 
Posts: 13
Joined: Wed May 10, 2006 5:17 pm
Location: Michigan

Re: Wine in Michigan

Postby Paul B. » Wed May 31, 2006 1:06 pm

Mark, thanks for posting on vine growing near Ann Arbor and about the Michigan Seyval. I am passionately interested both in local wines and in grape growing. If you have any questions relating to grape growing, we have a few wine growers participating here, and maybe we could get some answers to your queries here if you like.

In any case, welcome again.
Hybrid Wines Online:
http://hybridwines.blogspot.ca
User avatar
Paul B.
Hybrid Guru
 
Posts: 2024
Joined: Thu Mar 23, 2006 12:38 am
Location: Ontario, Canada

Re: Wine in Michigan

Postby David Creighton » Wed May 31, 2006 4:51 pm

Hello Hoke - since i spend a fair amount of time in ontario, i can say with some certainty that ice wine is NOT rare. many wineries have multiple vintages from multiple varieties - including cab franc. only one guy i know has stopped making it - daniel lenko - "people buy one bottle to give to a friend". in a place like ontario ice wine can be made every year - i think there may have been one in the last 15 or so that it was iffy. the grapes of course are not 'just beginning to freeze' - i think the tradition as well as the law is that it has to be 18 degrees F for two days before you can harvest. the brix of course if very high - minimum 35 - though it is often 50 or more - esp. when you start. in michigan we have roughly the same climate; but are much more desperate for dry and semi-dry wines - many wineries sell out of these before the next vintage. so, we can't afford to let things hang for a slow and expensive seller like ice wine. in ontario, i believe it is entire sections of vineyard that are left for ice wine - and netted of course to keep the birds out - not individual bunches throughout. i agree that the realy quality of ice wine is debatable - i usually prefer a late harvest vignoles. the main drawback to ice wine is that amount of time there is for bad things to happen to the grapes. it is fairly common for ice wine to show evidence of VA. they are also doing ice wine in upstate ny; but i think they too need all the table wines they can get. best regards; david
david creighton
David Creighton
Wine guru
 
Posts: 1235
Joined: Wed May 24, 2006 11:07 am
Location: ann arbor, michigan

Re: Wine in Michigan

Postby Tom N. » Wed May 31, 2006 11:43 pm

Hi Mark,

I have been to Lone Oak Winery and purchased the raspberry dessert wine. It was quite tasty. Kip was one of the 2 winemakers featured in a MoCool Friday noon luncheon in 2002 with the theme 'So, you want to be a winemaker.' He talked about quitting his day job to start a winery. I think he really enjoys it and does some extraordinary things to get Vitis vinifera grape production just west of Ann Arbor, such as pruning his vines to be no more than 18" off the ground and covering them all for the winter. Now that is what I call a dedicated vintner :!:
Tom Noland
Good sense is not common.
Tom N.
Wine guru
 
Posts: 768
Joined: Thu Mar 23, 2006 11:17 pm
Location: Soo, Ont.


Return to The Wine Forum

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Tim York and 6 guests