October 20, 2017

2015 Midwest Winery Rankings

The Midwest wine industry continues to grow. The number of wineries in the 11 state area Midwest Wine Press covers rebounded strongly during 2014 after barely growing at all during 2013. During 2014, the number of Federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) winery permits in the Midwest increased by 7% to 1,264.

Midwest Wine Press has been tracking winery permits since 2012. During this time, the number of wineries in the Midwest has been growing at an average annual rate of 6.1%.  However, winery growth has been erratic:

TTB Winery Permits in the Midwest 

1,353- 2015 (+7% from the previous year) 

1,264- 2014 (+1.7% from the previous year)

1,243- 2013 (+9.8 from the previous year)

1,132- 2012

While the TTB listings are an imperfect proxy for the exact number of wineries in a particular state, the number of winery permits is a useful barometer of interest in winery formation and investment.  Generally, the TTB’s figure for the number of wineries is a little higher than the real number of operating wineries. (Meaderies and wineries that make only fruit wine are included in the MWP Rankings. Distillers, retailers, breweries and distributors are not included in the Rankings.)

The state wine association derived total number of wineries in the Midwest decreased from 925 to 877 during the past year. (As detailed in the Rankings below, Midwestern states have different methods of tabulating wineries.) State wine associations generally only count wineries that are actually open, unlike the TTB which lists permits for wineries that have not yet opened.  The TTB list also contains some wineries that have closed, but have not yet been purged.

The big story for 2015 is the ascension of Wisconsin wine. Wisconsin moved up two spots in the rankings this year to #4.

Since 2012, the number of winery permits in Wisconsin has doubled. Wisconsin wine has become part of a broadly supported local wine and food movement statewide.  It’s encouraging that wine drinkers in Wisconsin have embraced cold climate wines, as Wisconsin does not produce old world wine grapes.

The state with the largest growth in winery permits during is Minnesota. Minnesota has become the Mecca of cold hardy wines as a result of the University of Minnesota wine breeding program, the annual Cold Climate Conference and a strong community of private grape breeders and growers.

The only state to see a reduction in the number of winery permits over the past three years is Illinois. During 2015,  the state wine association tally of wineries is Illinois also declined by over 6%.  Despite a robust wine industry in the southern part of the state, Illinois wine has not been able to get traction in Chicago, which views itself as a global city.

The only state to see a decline in the number of winery permits during 2014 is Kentucky. The market for Kentucky produced bourbon is skyrocketing, but local wine is sometimes overshadowed by the state’s distilled spirits juggernaut.

Michigan has been #1 for all four years that Midwest Wine Press has been tracking wineries.  Michigan is arguably the only Midwestern state to become a nationally recognized “emerging” wine producer.  Much of the growth of Michigan wine has been the result of world-class Riesling and Pinot clones.  After extensive winter damage to the state’s old world grape vines, Michigan now has the potential to legitimize cold hardy wines nationwide.

1. Michigan Wineries: 2015- 244 wineries (+10.4%)

2014- 221 wineries

2013- 226 wineries

2012- 200 wineries

After declining in 2014, the number of winery permits in Michigan roared back in 2014. The Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council (MGWIC) currently lists 104 wineries in Michigan, up from 101 during 2014.  The MGWIC only lists wineries that use at least 50% Michigan grapes to make their wine.  With the wine grape crop in Michigan damaged by two consecutive arctic winters, it will be interesting to see if MGWIC relaxes their “Michigan grown” requirement.

2. Ohio Wineries: 2015- 228 wineries (+7.5%)

2014- 212 wineries

2013- 216 wineries

2012- 185 wineries

There are 169 wineries listed on the Ohio Grape Industries Committee (OGIC) website. Last year there were 158 wineries that listed at OGIC’s Ohio Wines website.

3. Missouri Wineries: 2015- 190 wineries (+8.5%)

2014- 175  wineries

2013- 167 wineries

2012- 157 wineries

The Missouri Wine and Grape Board (MWGB) reports 127 wineries.  That’s an decrease of one winery during the past year. (The MWGB only counts operating wineries.)

4. Wisconsin Wineries: 2015- 130 wineries (+19%) 

2014- 109 wineries

2013- 104 wineries

2012- 88 wineries

The Wisconsin Winery Association lists 69 wineries, up from 66 wineries a year ago.  (Note to Wisconsin: Time to upgrade the state’s wine website.)

5. Illinois Wineries: 2015- 124 wineries (+2%)

2014- 122 wineries

2013- 129 wineries

2012- 126 wineries

The Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association (IGGVA) has 86 wineries on the Association’s website.  Last year, the IGGVA listed 92 wineries.

6.  Iowa Wineries: 2015- 120 wineries (+8%)

2014- 111 wineries

2013- 106 wineries

2012- 102 wineries

The number of wineries according to the Midwest Grape and Wine Institute at Iowa State University:  101. This number is unchanged from last year.

7.  Indiana Wineries: 2015- 97 wineries (+6.5) 

2014- 91 wineries

2013- 73 wineries

2012- 73 wineries

Indiana Wine lists 81 wineries on the organization’s website. This is a big increase from the 65 wineries listed on Indiana Wine last year.

8. Minnesota Wineries: 2015- 88 wineries (+35%)

2014- 65 wineries

2013- 69 wineries

2012- 58 wineries

Wineries on the Minnesota Grape Growers Association’s (MGGA) website map: 34.  Last year there were 51 wineries on MGGA website.  (MGGA is a private organization with a membership fee.) The Minnesota Department of  Tourism needs to build a website for the growing Minnesota wine industry.

9.  Kentucky Wineries: 2015- 80 wineries (-5%)

2014- 84 wineries

2013- 81 wineries

2012- 79 wineries

Wineries listed by the Kentucky Wine website: 52.  (The new Kentucky wine website is fantastic.) Last year, the Kentucky wine website listed 66 wineries.

10. Kansas Wineries- 2015- 37 wineries (+2%) 

2014- 36 wineries

2013- 26 wineries

2102- 31 wineries

The Kansas Grape Growers & Winemakers Association (KGGWA) lists 19 member wineries on its website.  Last year, KGGWA listed 24 wineries.

11. Nebraska Wineries- 2015- 35 wineries (0% change) 

2014- 35 wineries

2013- 34 wineries

2012- 33 wineries

The Nebraska Winery and Grape Growers Association (NWGGA) lists 35 wineries on the Nebraska Wines website.  Last year, the NWGGA listed 35 wineries.

About Mark Ganchiff

Mark Ganchiff is the publisher of Midwest Wine Press, the leading source of news on the growing wine industry in the central United States. Mark has been a wine judge at the 2012 and 2014 INDY International Wine Competition, the 2014 Cold Climate Wine Competition, the 2013 Mid-American Wine Competition, the 2012 Illinois State Fair Wine Competition and the 2013 Michigan Wine Competition. He also enjoys speaking at wine events including the Cold Climate Wine Conference, the Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association Annual Meeting, the Midwest Grape and Wine Conference and the Wisconsin Fruit and Vegetable Conference. Mark’s articles about regional wine have appeared in Vineyard & Winery Management, WineMaker and several regional magazines.
Mark is a Level One Sommelier in the Court of Master Sommeliers. He lives in Louisville, but also has a residence in Chicago.