Ten Facts You Might Not Have Known About Michigan Ice Wine

Connoisseurs might describe Ice Wine as liquid-gold. Several Michigan wineries produce this high-risk, highly prized delight, but only in years when conditions are just right.

Photo courtesy of David L. Fox - Black Star Farms

Photo courtesy of David L. Fox – Black Star Farms

Not familiar with this particular variety? Impress your wine-wise friends with these ten fun facts about Michigan Ice Wine from guest blogger Karel Bush of the Michigan Wine and Grape Industry Council.

1. Ice Wine is sweet and delicious. But you probably already knew that.

2. Michigan is ideally suited for Ice Wine production. Most other U.S. states cannot produce this decadent libation – it just doesn’t get cold enough.

3. There are strict rules governing the harvesting, handling and labeling of Ice Wine, not just in Michigan, but internationally.

4. Ice Wine is made from grapes that have been partially frozen on the vine. There are “ice-style” wines that are made from grapes that are harvested then frozen. These cannot be labeled as “Ice Wine.”

Photo courtesy of David L. Fox - Black Star Farms

Photo courtesy of David L. Fox – Black Star Farms

5. Leaving grapes on the vine for Ice Wine is risky. The longer the grapes hang on the vine, the more the sugar is concentrated. More sugar means more tasty morsels for birds, raccoons and other critters. Growers often cover the vines with netting to help reduce the damage.

6. The grapes can also be lost to other elements of nature – hail, wind and even a sudden warm spell can jeopardize an Ice Wine crop.

7. Harvesting grapes for Ice Wine must be done when the temperature drops to about 18 degrees Fahrenheit. At this point, the water in the grapes freezes, but the sugar does not.

8. If the temperature dips too low, for too long, the grapes can actually freeze too hard and the grapes are like marbles. No juice can be extracted, so the grapes are unusable.

9. The grapes can’t be allowed to thaw, so harvest must happen quickly, often with very short notice. It’s not uncommon to harvest grapes for Ice Wine in the middle of the night. And it’s done by hand. The grapes must be pressed while still frozen, yielding mere drops of concentrated ultra-sweet elixir.

Photo courtesy of David L. Fox - Black Star Farms

Photo courtesy of David L. Fox – Black Star Farms

10. Ice Wine is irresistible on its own and luscious with desserts like crème brulée or pecan pie; but it’s also fun to pair with strong cheeses or a creamy paté.

These Michigan wineries have received awards for their Ice Wine in local and national wine competitions: Black Star Farms, Brys Estate Vineyard and Winery, Burgdorf’s Winery, Chateau Aeronautique, Chateau Chantal, Cody Kresta Vineyard and Winery, Fenn Valley Vineyards, Lemon Creek Winery and Mackinaw Trail Winery.

Have you ever sampled Ice Wine from a Michigan winery? What did you think? Visit www.michiganwines.com for information about these and all the other award-winning wineries in the state. 

Karel Bush is promotion specialist for the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council, a program within the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The Ultimate List of Upper Peninsula Wineries

Today, featured blogger Jesse Land of Things to Do in the U.P. shares his ultimate list of Upper Peninsula wineries.

10298784_10152849038958289_2327881022500686165_nDid you know that the Upper Peninsula currently has eight wineries? From Carousel Winery up in the Keweenaw to Threefold Vine Winery way down in Stephenson, U.P., wineries have been opening up (and sticking around) regularly over the past few years.

Following is a full list of all the wineries in the Upper Peninsula, as well as one bonus location I don’t want you to miss. But before we get started, here are a few impressive facts about Michigan’s wine industry I borrowed from the recent Four Fun Ways to Celebrate Michigan Wine Month blog post:

- 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

Yes my friends, Michigan is a serious player in the national wine industry. If you’re a wine lover, I’d highly suggest carving out a little time to visit a few of these great vineyards and tasting rooms on your next Upper Peninsula vacation.

Leigh’s Garden Winery
904 Ludington Street

Escanaba, MI 49829
(906) 553-7799

Located in a historic building in downtown Escanaba, Leigh’s tasting room makes a great stop when visiting the Escanaba area. Leigh also hosts a summer artist series with the work of local artists rotating through the summer.

Northern Sun Winery
983 10th Road
Bark River, MI 49807
(906) 399-9212

Not from from Leigh’s in Bark River, Michigan sits Dave and Susie Anthony’s estate winery. Northern Sun has been growing grapes for twelve years and their three and a half acre vineyard is home to about 3,000 vines. A fully equipped below ground cellar and Mediterranean style cottage tasting room round out this excellent winery.

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Photo courtesy of Jesse Land – Things to Do in the U.P.

Threefold Vine Winery
S232 Menominee St.
Stephenson, MI
(906) 753-6000

Formerly located on the Garden Peninsula, Threefold Vine Winery recently relocated to the town of Stephenson.  But don’t worry, they brought last fall’s grapes, apples and other fruit with them and won’t miss a beat. Andy, Jan and family try to positively impact the local community as well as U.P. viticulture, and I’d say they definitely succeed in those efforts! I can’t wait to get to their new tasting room in the historic Stephenson bank building.

Garden Bay Winery
321 E Superior
Munising, MI 49862
(906) 361-0318

When the golf course owned by Garden Bay Winery owners John and Gloria could no longer support itself, they repurposed the course by planting grapes and berries and began making wine in what used to be the club house. Known for their award winning fruit wines, the folks at Garden Bay will be opening a new tasting room this year in Cooks, which is just a few minutes away from Manistique.

Mackinac Trail Winery
103 W Lakeshore Dr.
Manistique, MI 49854
(906) 341-2303

Just fifteen minutes away from the new Garden Bay Winery location sits Mackinaw Trail Winery’s Manistique tasting room. With live music outside in the summer and world class sangria on hand, this cool little tasting room makes for a fun stop. And if you want to grab lunch while in Manistique, the excellent Upper Crust Deli is right across the river.

Algomah Acres Meadery
611 Plank Rd.
Greenland, MI 49929
(906) 883-3894

Thanks to the folks at Algomah Acres, I now know what mead is. And for those of you who are in the dark like I was, mead is simply wine made from honey. And it’s delicious. Located in a historic catholic church, Algomah Acres makes many different great beeswax products in addition to their mead.

Want to give mead a try? Stop in and see Algomah Acres during the Michigan Honey Festival in Frankenmouth on July 12th, where they’ll be handing out samples of their artisanal brews.

Photo courtesy of Carousel Winery

Photo courtesy of Carousel Winery

Carousel Winery
21 Trimoutain Avenue
South Range, MI 49963
(906) 487-9463

Located in the same small town as Keweenaw Brewing Company’s production facility, Carousel Winery actually allows customers to make their own wine! They say the process takes about one hour and then in six to eight weeks you can return for the final bottling. They even let you create a custom label. Talk about a cool gift idea.

St. Charles Winery
1104 West Washington St.
Marquette, MI 49855
(906) 273-1109

As far as I’m aware, the St. Charles Winery in Marquette is the newest player in the Upper Peninsula wine scene. They’re so new, I haven’t had the chance to stop in yet. But according to a U.P. Second Wave article about them, they offer “wine tastings, samples, and bottle sales in-house, as well as private bookings, a gift shop and customer events.”

And if you’re looking for a place to stock up on a variety of Michigan made wine (or beer), check out the very cool Michigan Made Beer, Wine and More store in Marquette. They’ve got surprisingly cool shop full of great beer, wine and other products and make it easy to support all of the wineries listed above!

Have you been to any of these Upper Peninsula wineries? 

JesseLand21111Written by Jesse Land of Things to do in the U.P.

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.