"Michigan's 81 wineries welcome more than 1 million visitors to their tasting rooms each year and offer a truly Pure Michigan agri-tourism experience," said Keith Creagh, Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (MDARD) Director. "Not only do these businesses offer a quality product and memorable experience, but our wine and grape industries also contribute nearly $800 million to the state's economy annually."
Sales of Michigan wines in the state rose nearly 12 percent in 2010, while total wine sales increased just 4 percent. Michigan wine sales have outpaced total wine sales for the past 10 years, doubling the Michigan wineries' market share to 6.5 percent. Just in the past year alone, Michigan has added 10 new wineries to its roster -- up from 71 in 2010 -- across the state from the Thumb to the Upper Peninsula and down to the state line.
"April is a great time to kick off winery touring. Not only can travelers benefit from off-season rates and overnight packages at hotels and B&Bs near wine country, but tasting rooms are less busy in the spring, and staff are delighted to provide visitors with extra attention," said Linda Jones, MDARD's Grape & Wine Program Manager. "Many wineries anticipate some of the best wines they've produced to come from the long, warm 2010 growing season. They will begin to release new wines from the 2010 vintage this spring; additional red wines from the 2009 vintage will also be available."
Many events are planned this spring and early summer that will provide opportunities to meet winemakers and sample a variety of Michigan wines, including:
Michigan Wine Celebration: April 9-10 - Southeast Michigan Pioneer Wine Trail (http://www.pioneerwinetrail.com/)
Michigan Wine Showcase: April 11 - Radisson Bloomfield Hills, home of Northern Lakes Seafood Company (www.michiganwines.com/showcase)
Spring Sip & Savor: April 30 & May 1 - Leelanau Peninsula Vintners (http://www.lpwines.com/)
Blossom Days: May 14-15 - Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula (http://www.wineriesofoldmission.com/)
Lake Michigan Shore Wine Festival: June 18 - Lake Michigan Shore Wine Country (http://www.miwinetrail.com/)
April will also see the release of the 2011 Michigan Wine Country magazine, an indispensable guide to the wines and wineries of Michigan. The magazine contains maps and touring information, as well as a popular section on "what's new at the wineries." To request a free copy of Michigan Wine Country, visit www.michiganwines.com or contact the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council at 517-241-1207. The magazine is also available at all Michigan wineries and Travel Michigan Welcome Centers.