We're vacationing in Union Pier, MI, on the Lake Michigan shore. Besides hanging out at the beach, we also like to explore the area. This morning we're headed for Warren Woods State Park for a family hike. Surrounding us as well 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 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.
We won't be following the wine trail this trip, but are hoping to return in the fall perhaps. This vacation we'll try to get over to the Round Barn tasting room, which isn't too far from the cottage. It's been years since I tried Michigan wines, I'll be interested to see what progress has been made.