wine

David Hughey / Flickr

There is a rise in wines made and named after celebrities. There is Fergalicious named after singer Fergie, and there's rapper Lil John, who started Little Jonathan Winery. And there's Michigan's own Madonna, whose family owns the Ciccone Vineyard up north. 

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The rough winter of 2013-2014 was not kind to Michigan grapes.

And we're going to see that in the wine grape crop this year.

Linda Jones is executive director at Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council. Jones projects a 50% reduction in wine output due to the harsh winter. 

User: Raul Lieberwirth / Flickr

A bad movie gets a bad review. But a bad bottle of wine? Not so much.

Critic Chris Cook of Hour Detroit magazine was recently asked why he doesn’t write about bad wine. 

"I just think there's too much out there that's good these days to be concentrating on a lot of the bad stuff. In the wine world in particular, the technology has gotten so good that the wines are much much better than they used to be," Cook responded.

He also says judgment on wine could be questionable when personal tastes come in. 

As the fall gets underway, Cook is excited about the lighter style red wine such as pinot noir. 

For Thanksgiving, Cook is looking forward to inky wines instead, like Malbec.

*Listen to the full interview with Chris Cook above.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan's Grape and Wine Industry Council recognized eight Michigan wines as "best in class" at their recent awards ceremony.

Linda Jones, executive director of the Council, filled us in on the winners.

Among the winners are three Rieslings, a sparkling wine, a dry red that also won last year, a semi- dry red wine, one fruit, and one rosé

The judges were looking for wines that were true to the character of the grape produced in this region.

Here's a list of Michigan's eight "Best in Class" winners:

  • Sparkling: Aurora Cellars 2011 Brut
  • Dry White: Blustone Vineyards 2013 Riesling
  • Dry Red: Peninsula Cellars 2012 Cabernet Franc
  • Semi-dry White: Gill's Pier Vineyard & Winery 2013 Semi-Dry Riesling
  • Semi-dry Red: Lawton Ridge Winery 2012 AZO Red
  • Dessert: Black Star Farms 2012 Arcturos Winter Harvest Riesling
  • Fruit: 45 North Vineyard & Winery Peach Cremant
  • Rosé: Chateau de Leelanau 2013 Cabernet Franc Rosé

You can find the full list of winners here.

*Listen to the full interview above.

Emily Fox / Michigan Radio

We've all heard of Cabernet, Merlot and Chardonnay. Those wines have been around for centuries.

But what about Frontenac, Marquette and La Crescent? Those grapes have only been around for a decade or two and they can withstand harsh winters, and thrive.

I went to the Upper Peninsula to see if it has what it takes to develop a new wine region in the state.


The Justice Department is investigating General Motors for delaying a recall of more than a million and a half cars. On today's show: how is this recall affecting GM's reputation?

And, a new Michigan law will now allow you to literally BYOB, bring you own bottle of wine to a restaurant.

Also, starting a business can be hard, but what about starting a business with a mission to help end homelessness? That's exactly what the Empowerment Plan aims to do. 

First on the show, Rick Pluta, Captiol Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network and co-host of It's Just Politics, joined us to talk about how Lansing plans to spend surplus money.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new Michigan law will now allow you to literally BYOB, bring your own bottle of wine to a restaurant. Chris is the Chief Restaurant Critic and Wine Writer at Hour Magazine, and he joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan diners can start bringing their own bottles of wine to restaurants.

A new corkage law went into effect on Friday.   It says restaurants with liquor licenses can permit outside bottles of wine and charge a corking fee to serve them.

State representative Jim Stamas sponsored the bill.   He says the law will promote Michigan's wine industry.

In a few weeks, a U.S. District judge will hold a hearing on a Michigan case that challenges the state's constitutional ban on gay marriage. On today's show: we explored the implications the case could have in Michigan and across the nation.

Also on today's show, Michigan wines are really making a name for themselves outside of the state. We talked to a connoisseur who isn't the least bit surprised by that news. And, according to a new report, lobbyist spending on free lunches for legislators has gone up. We spoke to Rich Robinson of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network to see what else they are spending on. Also, The Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference was this past weekend. It's Just Politics co-hosts Rick Pluta and Zoe Clark joined us to talk about what happened there.

user farlane / flickr

Go to New York. Visit a nice restaurant. And, you just might find yourself looking over the wine list and find an entry that might be surprise you. A Michigan wine.

The Chief Restaurant Critic and Wine Writer for Hour Magazine, Chris Cook recently wrote about that surprise, and he joined us today to talk Michigan wines.

Listen to the full interview above.

Making Michigan wine with cheaper solar energy

Sep 3, 2013
Interlochen Public Radio

Crain Hill Vineyards in Leelanau County is touted as the first in Michigan to run 100% on solar power, and a start-up energy business sees an opportunity for homes and farms because of the steep price drops to install solar in the last year.

Robert Brengman owns Crain Hill Vineyards with his two brothers. He says it’s been a goal from the beginning to tread lightly in this place.

“We’re looking at having a zero carbon footprint on this vineyard, in this winery. I mean that to me is exciting,” Bregnman said. “I think it’s a little part. And we’re trying to do our part of keeping this beautiful area the way it is.”

They won’t be buying electricity generated by burning fossil fuels. There are three new solar arrays mounted on steel poles on a south facing slope that are within sight of the winery’s tasting room.

Tom Gallery designed the system for Crain Hill and says the arrays are built to gather as much sunlight as possible.

Photo courtesy of Michigan Wines

Michigan’s wine grape acreage has doubled over the past decade, and many say the quality of Michigan wine has also grown dramatically.

But to uncork a young wine region’s fullest potential, you need something more… you need a signature grape.

And there’s debate among winemakers in northern Michigan as to whether that’s been discovered yet.

packetinsider.com

You could soon be able to pick up a bottle of wine at your local farmers' market.

Tomorrow, the state House Regulatory committee will discuss legislation that would allow wine sampling and sales at farmers’ markets. The bills (SB 79 and SB 279) have already passed the state Senate.

Donna McClurkan is with the Michigan Farmers Markets Association. She says it’s a way to support another part of Michigan's agricultural industry.

“We see it as a potential growth opportunity for aspiring small wineries,” says McClurkan.

user farlane / flickr

If you like to frequent farmer's markets, you may soon have something new to explore amidst the stands of fresh produce, baked goods, jams and jellies, flowers and plants.

A bill moving through Lansing would allow wine tasting at farmer's markets.

What's this mean for Michigan wineries? Who gets to offer their wines for tastings at farmer's markets? And what's it mean for consumers?

Dan McCole, an assistant professor of tourism at Michigan State University, joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Photo courtesy of Michigan Wines

Michigan winemakers are exploring a variety of options to get the most out of their crops. They’re experimenting with growing hardier grapes to handle whatever curve balls Mother Nature throws.

Michigan is now the eighth largest wine grape growing state. The grapes we grow really have to like Michigan weather, no matter what happens. Right now we’ve got room to improve.

Stateside: The great grape state

Jan 10, 2013
user farlane / flickr

Michigan is the fourth-largest grape producing state.

This is good news for wine lovers.

According to the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council, there are 101 commercial wineries producing more than 1.3 million gallons of wine annually.

Christopher Cook, Chief Restaurant Critic and Wine Writer for Hour Magazine, spoke with Zoe Clark about the state’s growing industry.

“When our auto industry was in so much trouble, the wine industry was beginning to boom. In the past decade it has come the distance and has now reached a point in quality and size where it is being recognized across the country,” said Cook.

Grape vines in west Michigan
user rkramer62 / Flickr

2012 will go down as an "annus horribilis" for most fruit-growers in Michigan. Apples, cherries, pears have been hit hard by the big March warm-up followed by a spring frost, then a hot, dry summer.

But if you are a wine producer in Michigan, you might be feeling happier about the weather we've had this year!

Eddie O'Keefe is the President of Chateau Grand Traverse Wines on the beautiful Old Mission Peninsula.

There was a lot of nail biting amongst growers early in the season said Mr. O’Keefe.

user farlane / flickr

As we continue our “What’s Working” series this week, Christina Shockley sits down to speak with Linda Jones, the Executive Director of the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council. Over the past decade, the wine industry in Michigan has grown ten to fifteen percent each year, with most of the wine being produced in the southwest and northwest regions of the Lower Peninsula.

With 14,600 acres of vineyards, Michigan ranks fourth amongst all states in grape production. Most of these grapes are used to make juices, but about 2,000 acres of vineyards are devoted solely to wine grape production, making Michigan the eighth largest producer of wine grapes. Ms. Jones says that when we talk about Michigan’s wine industry, we are really talking about the grape industry as well.

“They’re an integrated function. Many of the wineries in Michigan grow their own fruit. And our program is housed in the Michigan Department of Agriculture because wine is really an exemplary industry for value-added agriculture, meaning you take a crop that is grown here in Michigan and you add value to it on the farm property and attract customers to come and visit you, and that translates into a huge economic boom for that area when you can do that.”   

In a state that has seen its industries and population decline in the past decade, Michigan’s wine industry has continued to grow steadily. Jones says this is because wine production incorporates two of Michigan’s strongest assets.

“It combines our second and third largest industries: agriculture and tourism. Michigan is a long-standing fruit-producing state, especially on the west side of the state, but increasingly throughout Michigan we are planting wine grapes with new varieties that are being developed.”

But Michigan isn’t just good at growing fruit because we’ve been doing it for centuries. The climate in Michigan is particularly well-suited for growing grapes, says Jones.