Friday, September 30, 2011

Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail

We're vacationing in Union Pier, MI, on the Lake Michigan shore, about 90 minutes away from Chicago. In the immediate surrounding area are vineyards. This is Lake Michigan Shore Wine Country, an American Viticultural Area, stretching across the southwestern corner of Michigan from the Indiana-Michigan state line, north to the Kalamazoo River and east toward the City of Kalamazoo.

Lake Michigan, 307 miles long by 118 miles wide, is the sixth largest freshwater lake in the world. Its vastness creates a temperate climate in this region that prevents extremes of heat and cold, protecting fragile buds in spring and ripening fruits in summer. The deep, lake-effect snows insulate the rich soil so the vine roots won’t freeze. And a consistent annual rainfall produces juicy clusters of grapes, the nectar of fine Michigan wines.

Decades ago, winemakers realized that this land and climate were like those found in some of the finest wine-grape-growing regions of France and Germany. So they planted European stock on these hills. Built wineries. Aged their handcrafted wines. Began reaping awards.

More than a dozen wineries are located here in Lake Michigan Shore Wine Country and can be found on the wine trail that includes the wineries, but also places to stay and eat as well. This weekend we are planning on visiting Hickory Creek Winery, Domaine Berrien, Tabor Hill Winery, Lemon Creek Winery, Fenn Valley Vineyards, Contessa Wine Cellars, and Karma Vista Vineyards. For dinners there are plans for  the Bentwood Tavern, Tabor Hill Winery's restaurant, and Salt of the Earth.

Full report next week.

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