Linda Jones of the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council and Gordon Wenk, Deputy Director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, speak to a group from Chicago at the Michigan Wine Showcase.
On April 15th, the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council held the Michigan Wine Showcase at The RattleSnake Club in downtown Detroit. The purpose of the annual event is to showcase Michigan wines for the hospitality and tourism industries.
According to Claudia Tyagi, master sommelier and one of the event’s co-sponsors, “It’s very important for front line restaurant and hospitality people like restaurant managers, servers and beverage managers to be a part of the Michigan Wine Showcase; they are the ones who are moving the bottles and glasses of Michigan wine.”
According to Linda Jones, program manager for the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council (MGWIC), the Michigan wine industry continues to grow steadily at about 6% per year. With the quality and recognition of Michigan Wines increasing, there are questions regarding the ability of the state’s wine industry to meet a surge in demand. The 2012 vintage is considered one of the state’s best and Michigan wines have recently won top honors at numerous national wine competitions.
Jones, who has been with the MGWIC for fifteen years, is wary of the “boom and bust” cycle that can afflict suddenly popular wine regions. Despite the increasing demand for Michigan wine, Jones said the Michigan wine industry is seeking sustainable, incremental growth.
“It’s where the grapes are grown, not where the wine is bottled that’s important,” Jones said. ‘We could bring in tankers of California juice and grow like crazy, but that’s not the route we have chosen to go. Regional distinctiveness depends on regional fruit; to have long term success we must continue to grow steadily.”
Michigan is currently the 5th largest grape producer in the nation and the 7th largest wine grape producer. Riesling is the top wine grape planted in Michigan with Riesling acreage doubling in the past ten years, Jones said.
See related story: Great Lakes Riesling Steps Onto World Stage
Blake Bernard of Bluestone Vineyards with John Jenna, owner of the Vinology Wine Bar and Restaurant in Ann Arbor. Bluestone poured two wines for the first time at the Showcase; an ’11 “Naked” Chardonnay and a ’11 Winemakers Red. The former wine won a Silver Medal at the Pacific Rim Competition and the later wine won a Silver Medal at the Finger Lakes Competition.
Sharon Meyers of Meyers Communication (left) and Jennifer Horkman of Uncommon Ground, both from Chicago, speak with Steve Wroblewski of Fenn Valley Winery. Fenn Valley will be selling its estate grown Sauvignon Blanc outside its tasting room for the first time this year.
Dan and Lucie Matthies of Chateau Fontaine in Leelanau County. Top honors for a Midwest winery at the Finger Lakes Wine Competition went to Chateau Fontaine for its Semi-Sweet Riesling which won the John Rose Award for Best Riesling.
Rhonda Riebow of Chateau Grand Traverse
Janice and Harold Kociba of Dizzy Daisy Winery in Bad Axe. Specializing in hybrid wine grapes, Dizzy Daisy won a Bronze Medal at the ’13 Cold Climate Conference for their Swenson White.
Justin Leshinsky of Bowers Harbor Vineyards. Bowers Harbor, on the Old Mission Peninsula, will soon be completing their first remodeling since 1992.
Lorenzo Lizarralde of Chatueau Arontique and Janice MacDonald of Evanston Cellars, LLC. Chateau Arontique’s ’11 Chardonnay was barrel aged for 16 months, the grapes for the wine came from Glaciers Edge Farms in Brighton.
Mark Johnson of Chateau Chantal, the first winery to plant Pinot Noir in Northern Michigan. At the Showcase, Johnson poured the winery’s estate Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir
Deborah and David Burgdorf of Burgdorf’s Winery pour their new release ’11 Chardonnay. Burgdorf’s also introduced a new ’11 Chancellor at the Showcase
Midwest Wine Press publisher Mark Ganchiff and Brian Hosmer, winemaker at Chateau Chantal and Hawthorne Vineyards