Four Fun Ways to Celebrate Michigan Wine Month

Michigan-Wine-sunsetDid you know that April is Michigan Wine Month? With more than 100 wineries nestled among 15,000 acres of scenic vineyards, Michigan truly is wine country. Whether you’re the occasional wine drinker or a professional connoisseur, there are numerous opportunities to get out and experience Michigan’s wineries this spring.

So, pop open that 2002 vintage red that you’ve been saving for the right occasion and toast to Pure Michigan. Here are four fun ways to celebrate Michigan Wine Month:

Attend the Michigan Wine Showcase in Detroit - April 7, 2014

To kick off the wine season, the Michigan Wine Showcase is taking place April 7th in Detroit. Join Master Sommeliers Claudia Tyagi and Madeline Triffon and 30 Michigan wineries for wine sampling and lavish appetizers created by Chef Chris Franz at The RattleSnake Club. Winemakers and winery owners will be on hand during this fabulous walk-around tasting to share their new release wines from the 2013 vintage! The Michigan Wine Showcase is a fantastic opportunity to experience the excellence of modern Michigan wines … and to enjoy sumptuous appetizers! Tickets are available in advance for $38 or $45 at the door.

Check out the Michigan Wine Celebration - April 12-13, 2014

Celebrate Michigan Wine Month at the Southeastern Michigan Pioneer Wine Trail’s “Michigan Wine Celebration” on Saturday, April 12 and Sunday, April 13! Each winery along the trail will feature an appetizer or dessert prepared by a local chef and paired with their featured wine. The price also includes one tasting glass. A recipe card with the featured recipe will be given out to ticket holders at each winery.

Plan a visit to one of Michigan’s Wine Trails

If you can’t make it to an event, then be sure to check out a wine trail. Michigan is home to many unique wine trails. While the majority of vineyards are based on the western side of the state, wineries can be found in nearly every region. Here’s a list of wine trails around the state:

Impress your friends and family with Michigan wine facts

Share the Michigan Wine Month spirit by showing off your knowledge of Michigan’s wine industry with these fun facts about  from the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council.

  • - Michigan wineries attract more than 2 million visitors annually
  • - Michigan’s wine, grape and grape juice products add nearly $790 million of economic value
  • - The industry accounts for more than 5,000 jobs statewide and produce a payroll of more than $190 million
  • - Michigan is ranked the fifth state in wine grape production in the nation and vineyard area has doubled in the last 10 years
  • - The wineries produce more than 1.3 million gallons of wine annually – placing Michigan 13th in wine production

How will you celebrate Michigan Wine Month this April? 

For more information on Michigan wineries, watch the video below.

Silver Screen “Must-Sees” at the 2014 Ann Arbor Film Festival

Today, Maricat Eggenberger from Visit Ann Arbor shares some highlights from the upcoming Ann Arbor Film Festival happening March 25, 2014 – March 30, 2014. 

Photo courtesy of Mark Gjukich

Photo courtesy of Mark Gjukich

Ann Arbor hosts the Ann Arbor Film Festival (AAFF) annually every March, and it’s an event you won’t want to miss!  This year marks the festival’s 52nd year. Known as the longest-running independent and experimental film festival in North America, the AAFF shows more than 180 films from over 20 counties in just six days!

Here are just a few stats…

- The AAFF receives more than 2,500 submissions annually from more than 65 countries.
- AAFF awards more than $20,000 in cash and film stock/services to filmmakers.
- Housed at the Historic Michigan Theater in downtown Ann Arbor.

We spoke with the new AAFF Director, Leslie Raymond to get the scoop on what you don’t want to miss.  She and her team gave us three ways to get the most out of the AAFF.

1. Get a pass!  The AAFF offers passes to attendees, which gets you into each and every day of the festival!

2. Take advantage of the AAFF free events! You can experience some of the films and juror presentations for free. Below are just a few of the amazing free events available.

Photo courtesy of Visit Ann Arbor

Photo courtesy of Visit Ann Arbor

52nd AAFF Juror Presentation: Steve Anker
Wednesday, March 26, 12:30 pm
Michigan Theater Screening Room

Steve Anker is dean of the School of Film/Video at the California Institute of Arts, and formerly served as director of the San Francisco Cinematheque and as artistic director of the Foundation for Art in Cinema.

52nd AAFF Juror Presentation: Hope Tucker
Thursday, March 27, 12:30 pm
Michigan Theater Screening Room

Hope Tucker, originally from Memphis, TN, is an artist working primarily in film and video. Since 2000, Tucker’s work has been exhibited internationally at museums, galleries and festivals, including four editions of the AAFF.

 

52nd AAFF Juror Presentation: Jeremy Rigsby
Friday, March 28, 12:30 pm
Michigan Theater Screening Room

Jeremy Rigsby is the Program Director of the Media City Film Festival (Windsor, Canada). Media City will have its twentieth edition in July, 2014.

From Gulf to Gulf to Gulf
Friday, March 28, 3pm
University of Michigan Museum of Art, Helmut Stern Auditorium

The Forgotten Space
Sunday, March 30, 2pm
University of Michigan Museum of Art, Helmut Stern Auditorium

3. Make plans to see these headlining films.

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 4.46.01 PM

Photo courtesy of Visit Ann Arbor

Decline of Western Civilization I
Friday March 28, 5:00pm

Los Angeles Plays Itself
Saturday March 29, 12:30pm

From Deep
Saturday March 29, 5:00pm

Purgatorio
Sunday March 30, 3:15pm

*Joining us for the full festival? Book a room at one of our local accommodations! Click here to learn more about which accommodations are offering hotel specials!

Have you been to the Ann Arbor Film Festival? Tell us about your experience.

Maricat Eggenberger PhotoMaricat Eggenberger is the Communications Manager for the Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. She’s a proud Michigander that loves traveling, anything eco-friendly and the little adventures in life. 

Exploring the Eben Ice Caves in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Today, featured blogger Jesse Land of Things To Do in the U.P. tells us how to have a fantastic Pure Michigan winter adventure at the Eben Ice Caves in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. 

Photo courtesy of Habibi Photography

The Eben Ice caves in Marquette County are one of Michigan’s prime winter attractions. Each winter, once the ice caves start to freeze up (usually sometime in December), visitor’s flock to the tiny town of Eben Junction to see the ice caves and, while they’re out there, support local businesses like the Eben Ice Caves concession stand, the Rock River Cafe and the New Moon Tavern.

Eben Ice Caves – The Basics

The “Rock River Canyon Ice Caves” better known as the Eben Ice Caves, form when melting snow runs over the edge of a small cliff and freezes, forming “ice caves” Much like the large ice formations along Munising’s Grand Island and parts of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, if you were to visit here in the summer you would see little to no water running over the edge.

It’s the perfect combination of a slow snow melt and frigid temperatures that causes these “caves” of ice to form.

The Hike to the Caves

Photo courtesy of Things to Do in the U.P.

This isn’t an attraction where you can pull up in your car, walk a few feet and be done. It’s not a long hike, but yes, you will have to get out and stretch your legs. And for the pet owners out there, yes, the area is pet friendly. Each time I’ve visited the ice caves I’ve seen more than a few dogs on the trail.

The hike from the parking area to the ice caves is about .75 miles. The first .25 mile stretch is a very flat walk through a farmer’s field. And just a note on that, the farmer allows people like you and me to pass through the field at no charge and if the kind family that owns the land ever stopped allowing this, the hike to the ice caves would be much longer. In addition to that, the land owners now offer portable bathrooms in the parking area at no charge. So, show your thanks by purchasing a hot beverage or a snack at their concession stand if you’re able!

A Word on Snowshoes and Ice Cleats

Photo courtesy of Things to Do in the U.P.

After a foot of snow got dumped on the area just two days before my recent visit, I asked a friend who lives in nearby Chatam if I should bring snowshoes. “It’s never a bad idea to bring the shoes,” he said, “but I”m guessing it’ll be packed down by then.”

He was right. Snowshoes would have only made the hike more difficult. So if you have them, bring them in case you happen to visit right after a big snowstorm. Otherwise, wear ice cleats.

Some form of ice cleats (I like Yaktrax but any of them should help!) can go a long way toward enhancing your Eben Ice Caves experience. Trust me. On any given day, about half the people visiting the caves are wearing cleats, and the other half wish they had them. The main reason is that, with ice cleats, you’re able to walk around inside the ice caves on relatively sure footing. And without them, it’s a little treacherous. The ice inside the caves is very smooth so traditional rubber boots tend to slide around quite a bit.

But another reason to wear cleats is that the trail out to the caves has some steep ups and downs. You’ll see many spots where people slide down hills on their bottoms, and then struggle to get up the other side. In short, if you’re wearing cleats (like myself and my cohorts were on our last outing) you’ll be able to walk right up and down those slippery spots. On my last visit, a college aged girl looked a little stunned as I walked right by her on a slippery hill and said “Oh, so that’s what it’s like when you have traction.”

Okay, enough about the ice cleats. You get the point!

Getting There

Photo courtesy of Habibi Photography

The Eben Ice Caves used to be a little hard to find, but no longer. Just set your GPS for Eben Junction, MI. (Or use Google Maps to find it.) From M-94 in Eben Junction, turn north onto Eben Road and drive about 1.5 miles to Frey Road. Turn right on Frey Road and drive to the end (if you can) or if it’s a busy day just find a spot to park along the road. It’s not unusual to see fifty or more cars parked here on a nice weekend day. Also, Eben Road and Frey Road have yellow signs on them that say “Ice Caves”, so keep an eye out for those.

All in all, though it’s a bit of a drive out to the ice caves, I’d highly recommend checking them out! As far as Michigan ice caves go, these are the most accessible I know of.

Have you been to the Eben Ice Caves? What did you think?

 

Written by Jesse Land of Things to do in the U.P. on behalf of Travel Marquette Michigan.