The Southwestern Lake Michigan shore is well-known for its beautiful lake towns, beaches, lighthouses, and dunes, but I want to let you in on one of the hidden treasures of this region: the excellent wine-growing agriculture (viticulture) which produces an incredibly excellent variety of wines.
Close to the Lake Michigan shore in Southwest Michigan is terrain (in France, “terroir”) and prevailing westerly winds which provide ideal conditions for delicious wine grapes to be grown in the “cool climate viticulture” (named the Lake Michigan Shore American Viticulture Area⸺AVA⸺or “Lake Effect”). The geographical boundaries of the AVA reach from the Indiana border north to Fennville, and 45 miles east from the Lake Michigan shore; the home turf of half of Michigan’s wine production, as well as the majority of the state’s vineyards. The region’s vineyards were first planted in 1867.
Going back even further to the Wisconsin Glacial Period (12,000-13,000 years ago) the shoreline’s sloping moraines were formed, resulting in today’s blessing of 42 different kinds of soils in the AVA. The sloping moraines also increase air drainage to the lake for the vineyards, thereby providing more protection from frost settling on the vines. The vineyards of Southwest Michigan enjoy elevations of 650-900 feet.
Like the major wine-producing areas of: France, Germany, Champagne, Alsace, northern Italy, Australia, New York, New Zealand, and Oregon, the Southwest Michigan region is within a few degrees of the 45th parallel. Added to the nurturing terrain and soil is the enhancing climate of cool nights and warm days, which allows the grapes to mature with just the right balance of sugar and acidity, providing the crispness to white wines; and the complexity and depth to red wines. Temperatures moderated by the “lake effect” enhance the quality of the European grape varieties that are grown along the Lake Michigan shores.
Now you know a little about why Southwest Michigan is becoming nationally recognized as a world-class wine-growing region. Every wine lover’s palate will be satisfied with more than 50 different grape varieties grown in Michigan, so come enjoy the delicious treasures waiting for your discovery at Southwest Michigan wineries.
See the YOUTUBE video on PureMichigan.org Michigan wines: https://youtu.be/AmNA3BLWgH4
For a description of all Michigan-grown grape varieties used for the fine, award-winning wines that will, please visit: https://www.michiganwines.com/wine-grape-varieties.