Governor Rick Snyder has declared April as “Michigan Wine Month” to honor Michigan’s wide selection of quality wines and the wine industry’s significant contribution to the economy.
The Michigan wine industry continues to grow at a steady pace. The Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council has added 11 new wineries to its roster over the last year – for a total of 92. The council promotes those wineries that support Michigan agriculture by using predominantly Michigan grapes and other fruit for their wines. Along with newly opened wineries, expansion of several existing wineries has allowed for increased production to help meet the rising demand for quality wines made locally.
Michigan wineries will begin to release new white wines from the 2011 vintage in April, as part of their Michigan Wine Month promotion. Winemakers report the quality of the 2011 wines is exceptional. Warm weather late in the season was of great benefit to wine grapes – especially red grapes, which need a longer, warmer season to ripen fully. Most of the red wines from 2011 won’t be released for a year or two, but some reds from the equally outstanding 2010 vintage will be released this spring.
Michigan’s cool climate and unique growing conditions contribute to the food-friendly nature of Michigan wines. Michigan restaurants, bars and taverns are encouraged to tap into the excitement of Michigan Wine Month by featuring local wines during April. The following are ways some businesses have embraced this promotional opportunity.
- Offering a discount on the purchase of Michigan wine encourages experimentation and increases the number and variety of wines the guest will consider on their next visit.
- Offer a flight of Michigan wine samples. This is another way to increase awareness and broaden the palate of your guests.
- Host a Michigan Wine Tasting event to educate your customers about local wines and wineries, and to showcase your menu items with wines specially chosen to complement them.
- Become a Vintage Michigan participating restaurant. Vintage Michigan is a wine discount club offered by the council. Members receive discounts on Michigan wine purchases at wineries, restaurants, retailers, and lodging locations throughout the state. As a participating location, you have access to a very targeted database of 2,600 members who are known to purchase wine, Michigan wine in particular.
- Post information about events that include Michigan wine on www.michiganwines.com – during Wine Month and any time during the year.
- If you list four or more Michigan wines on your menu, let us know so we can add you to our online directory of restaurants that support the state’s wineries. You can view the current list, organized by region, at www.michiganwines.com/restaurants.
- Display and distribute the 2012 Michigan Wine Country magazine. Released April 1, as a kick-off to Wine Month, the magazine is an indispensable guide to the wines and wineries of Michigan. You can order the magazine, at no charge, in quantities for distribution at your restaurant.
- Posters and other free point-of-sale materials are available to assist in promotion during Wine Month and throughout the year.
Master Sommeliers Madeline Triffon and Claudia Tyagi are working with the council to present the Michigan Wine Showcase, April 30, at The Rattlesnake Club in Detroit. The event includes a trade tasting in the afternoon that allows trade partners to try new-release wines from the 2011 vintage, and to talk with winemakers, winery owners and other key personnel from more than 25 Michigan wineries. There is also a public, ticketed event in the evening. Visit www.michiganwines.com/showcase for more information.
Many other events are planned this spring and early summer that will provide opportunities to meet winemakers and sample a variety of Michigan wines.
- What’s Cooking Detroit: April 21 – Palace of Auburn Hills (www.whatscookingdetroit.com)
- Michigan Wine Celebration: April 21-22 – Southeast Michigan Pioneer Wine Trail (www.pioneerwinetrail.com)
- Spring Sip & Savor: May 5-6 – Leelanau Peninsula Vintners (www.lpwines.com)
- Blossom Days: May 19-20 – Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula (www.wineriesofoldmission.com)
- Lake Michigan Shore Wine Festival: June 16 – Lake Michigan Shore Wine Country (www.miwinetrail.com)
For additional information about any of the opportunities provided by the council in support of the state’s rapidly growing wine industry, contact Karel Bush at 517-241-4468 or
Karel Bush is promotion specialist for the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council, a program within the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development.