Tuesday, June 24, 2014

West Michigan Wine: More Than Just a Pretty Bottle

Sip and savor your way through West Michigan when you learn about all of the award-winning wineries located here. With 15,000 acres of vineyards and over 1.3 millions gallons of wine produced annually, Michigan knows a thing or two about good wines. Most of Michigan’s quality wine grapes grow within 25 miles of Lake Michigan, where the “lake effect” protects the vines with snow in the winter, slows budding in the spring to avoid frost damage, and extends the growing season by up to four weeks. If you think enjoying West Michigan wine means simply sitting on the front porch & savoring a glass after dinner, we’ve got some exciting options you might want to think about checking out! Come with us as we explore the many wineries & wine-related activities across West Michigan. (Statistics from Michigan Wine Council)

Drinking Wine to Save the Animals

What if we told you that you could enjoy a wine tasting while visiting with monkeys and snow leopards, while at the same time helping conserve endangered wildlife? That’s exactly what will be going on at Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek on Saturday, July 19th at their “Corks for Conservation” event. You’ll get after-hours admission to the zoo from 6pm until 10pm, and have the chance to sample wines from Michigan wineries. There will also be live music, hors d’oeuvres, a silent auction, and live animal presentations. Sign up for VIP tickets, and you’ll also get access to a wine tasting class just prior to the event.

Enjoy Some Live Jazz with Your Wine

Imagine sipping a glass of West Michigan wine while enjoying live jazz on the shores of the lake. Ahhh….bliss. Now mark your calendar for August 2nd at Goodrich Park in Whitehall for their White Lake Wine & Jazz Fest! This annual event takes place on the shores of White Lake, the perfect spot to spend a summer afternoon. Running from 2pm through 6pm, this event will also feature appetizers and desserts, as well as a silent auction. Tickets for the White Lake Wine & Jazz fest are $25 in advance or $30 at the door.

Let Local Art Inspire Your Wine

They say not to judge a book by its cover, but we’re not sure if that extends to West Michigan wines! When it comes to incorporating art with wine, Stephanie Schlatter is the artist to talk to! As a Grand Rapids artist, she has woven her art into the fabric of the Michigan wine trade with the intention of promoting the beautiful area the wine is grown in, and the land and people that she has come to love. Schlatter debuted a new 500 sq ft mural this summer on the side of the Chateau de Leelanau tasting room, which can’t be missed while driving north on M22! Schlatter has also partnered with them on the launch of Muse (a sparkling white wine), which features her painting “The Three Graces” on the label. Many northern Michigan wineries carry Schlatters works from her “On the Michigan Wine Trail” series, and be sure to be on the lookout for other inspired art from local artists as you head out on the wine trail yourself.

Get Someone Else to Do the Driving

Many West Michigan locations boast more than one winery within driving distance, so it would be a shame to only visit one while you’re there! But then you have to figure out the best driving route, figure out hours for each stop you’d like to visit, designate someone to be DD, and the list goes on and on. That’s where Grape and Grain Tours comes in! Based out of Berrien Springs, they visit more than a dozen wineries, breweries, and distilleries on their trips. All you have to do is purchase a ticket for one of their tours, and they’ll pick you up and take care of the rest! They offer scheduled tours on Saturdays & Sundays, or you can book them for your own group any day of the week. It’s a great option for bachelor/bachelorette parties, birthdays, corporate events, or just a fun day out. They select their destinations based on wineries that go beyond just pouring a captivating glass of wine; they select places that respect the pride of the craft, and that enjoy sharing that gift with everyone who visits.

If none of the above strike your fancy, think about heading to a wine dinner at Chateau Chantal in Traverse City, or creating your own day trip with Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula. If you're just starting to explore the world of wine, talk to the server at a wine tasting when you visit a nearby vineyard, and they'll be able to walk you through the best ways to introduce new wines to your palate. Whatever your level of interest in wine, West Michigan is the perfect place to explore and deepen your appreciation for this integral part of our great state.

Don’t miss our other wine articles featured this month: Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula and Sensory Tours & Wine Dinners at Chateau Chantal

Looking for more information on West Michigan wines? Check out the following resources:

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