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Michigan wine

A girl posing with a curled bicep next to a large industrial grape-sorting machine.
Lee Leutes

An early-autumn heatwave is just about wrapping up in Michigan, and the warm weather has been a boon for some Michigan wineries.

Cooler weather and rain at the beginning of August amounted to a slow start of the harvest season, according to Lee Lutes, the head wine-maker and general manager of the wineries at Black Star Farms, near Traverse City.

“And then this heat set in and, boy, it’s almost like flipping a switch,” Lutes said. “It’s nothing but good.”

Ciccone Vineyard & Winery
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Driving along the Michigan shoreline often means passing vineyard after vineyard.

That made listener Blake Trombley wonder, so he submitted this question to our MI Curious project:

"Why are so many of Michigan's vineyards located on the coast?"

Is there a future for wine made in Detroit?

Jun 23, 2016
Courtesy of Great Lakes Vineyards

The Next Idea

Michigan’s northern and western regions are known for leading the state’s wine industry, but people over in the southeast could soon join in on the recognition. Blake Kownacki is a winemaker and vineyard manager at Great Lakes Vineyard, where he helps homeowners in the Detroit area make their own wine.

Faisal Akram/flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

After years of winning national competitions, and years of praise in major publications, there's no longer any question that Michigan does indeed make some of the finest white wines in the country.

If we've struggled anywhere, it's been with Michigan's red wines.

João André O. Dias/flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

You go to a fancy restaurant and order a bottle of red wine. The tuxedoed waiter calls over the sommelier who takes the order, brings the bottle, opens and pours it.

Then, you notice there’s a lot more fuss being made at a nearby table. With great ceremony, the sommelier is decanting the wine, and pouring the entire bottle into a glass carafe on the side table.

So, you think, what’s the matter with my wine? Chopped liver?

Courtesy of Laurentide Winery

The Next Idea

When was the last time you drank a bottle of Michigan wine? If it’s difficult to remember, you are sadly not alone.

FLICKR USER MSTEPHENS7 / FLICKR

There’s a delicious backstory to how the Michigan sparkling wine, “Sex,” sold under the M. Lawrence brand, got its head-turning name.

It happened during the 1980s, Hour Detroit magazine’s chief wine and restaurant critic Chris Cook said, when Larry Mawby, owner of the Mawby winery was “fretting around for names for certain things.”

In that day, the trick was getting names and images for wine labels approved by the somewhat “prudish” Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

“At that time, they were being very picky about certain things,” Cook said.