Searching for romantic trip ideas? Get away to scenic Michigan wine country!
Get away to Michigan's scenic wine country and discover beautiful vineyard and lake-view landscapes where eclectic tasting rooms full of high-quality wines await you. Sixty-five wineries scattered across the state produce a wide range of wines from the very dry to the very sweet.
Michigan is currently growing 14,600 acres of grapevines, and about 2,000 of those acres are devoted to wine grapes. Three types of grapes are grown including native, French-American hybrids and European vinifera. While cool-climate whites grow exceptionally in the state, reds are also grown to produce exceptional wines.
Michigan wines are also award-winning, and in 2008 alone, achieved more than 800 medals in national and international wine competitions.
Whether you are very knowledgeable about wine or new to the wine experience, you’re always welcome at a Michigan winery. Four wine trails across the state make your journey through wine country easy:
In addition, Michigan wineries are located in almost every region of the state, including the Sunrise Side and the Upper Peninsula. For a complete list of Michigan wineries, visit: www.michiganvine.com.
Although Michigan wineries have been around since the mid-1800s, the current commercial wine industry was ignited in 1934, shortly after the repeal of prohibition, when Mariano Meconi relocated St. Julian Winery (then named Border City Wine Company) from Canada to Detroit.
Around the same time, several businessmen saw the great opportunity for winemaking due to the sudden legalization of alcohol and demand for wines and opened commercial wineries.
Today, St. Julian thrives in Paw Paw as one of Michigan’s largest and most powerful wineries. The winery, now operated by Meconi’s grandson, David Braganini, is producer of the state’s top-selling wine, Blue Heron, at 30,000 cases per year. Until 1965, Michigan wineries were exclusively located in southwest Michigan when Bernie Rink converted a baseball diamond on his property in northern Michigan to a Michigan winery. Rink, who was raised on a vineyard in northern Ohio, saw all of the flourishing fruit on Leelanau Peninsula and decided to give grapes a try.
At the time, wine grapes were not commercially farmed in northern Michigan. Bernie tried many French-American hybrid varieties to determine which ones could survive the Michigan winter temperatures. Six varieties made the cut, and Bernie has been producing those same wines ever since. In 1975, Rink established Boskydel Vineyard, the first bonded wine cellar in Leelanau County.
Several others in northern Michigan soon followed, including Ed O’Keefe who took an even bigger risk on Old Mission Peninsula, planting large quantities of European vinifera grapes. O’Keefe opened the peninsula’s first bonded wine cellar, Chateau Grand Traverse, in 1974 and is now one of the state’s largest wine producers.
In 1985, Governor James Blanchard formed the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council to enhance the development of Michigan’s wine industry, with Rink, Braganini and O’Keefe serving as founding members.
Today, Michigan’s 65 commercial wineries produce one million gallons of wine and attract 800,000 visitors each year. The overall wine industry employs 5,000 people and contributes $300 million to the state’s economy.
Michigan wine country hosts great events throughout the year. Join the crowds for a fun and exciting way to experience Michigan wines. Or, visit the tasting rooms off-season for more one-on-one conversation with winemakers and pourers.
For a truly enchanting Michigan getaway, stay overnight in a Michigan vineyard. Fabulous vineyard stays are available at Chateau Chantal (Old Mission Peninsula), Chateau Grand Traverse (Old Mission Peninsula), Black Star Farms (Leelanau Peninsula) and Pleasantview Vineyards (Harbor Springs).
When visiting the Pioneer Wine Trail, stay at the Palmer House Inn in Albion for a romantic bed and breakfast experience. Or grab a group of friends and book the Inn for a special a gourmet wine and food pairing featuring Cherry Creek Cellars.The Thunder Bay Resort on Michigan’s sunrise side takes you on a romantic carriage ride to a secluded log cabin in the woods where a gourmet dinner is prepared on a wood stove and paired with Michigan’s wines.
~Written by Lorri Hathaway, co-author of From the Vine: Exploring Michigan Wineries, www.michiganvine.com