Growing Grapes in Michigan

With over 14,600 acres of vineyards and more than 60 commercial wineries, Michigan is the fourth largest state when it comes to grape growing and the sixteenth biggest producer of wines in the United States. Only 1,800 of the 14,600 acres are devoted to cultivating wine grapes, while the rest is for native American varietals Concord and Niagara, commonly used for grape juice. Michigan’s large grape growing industry is protected by the ‘lake effect’ produced by its closeness to Lake Michigan. The surrounding body of water moderates temperature and extends the growing season to prevent spring frosts. European, American, and French-American hybrids are grown in Michigan. Majority of the wine grapes produced in this region are grown in the Leelanau Peninsula and the Old Mission Peninsula in the north-western part and in Fennville and Lake Michigan Shore in the southwest, where growing seasons are the longest and temperatures are at their warmest in the state. Most of Michigan’s grape wines are made from classic Vitis vinifera cultivars, most popular of which is Pinot Noir, Riesling, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Franc. French-American hybrids such as Marechal Foch, Vidal, Chambourcin, and Vignoles, which are known to thrive in more extreme temperatures, are also grown in Michigan.

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