|Lake Michigan Shore Wine Country kicks off 10th anniversary by adding two new wineries to its wine trail|
Three Wine Trail Members also Celebrate Their 10th Anniversaries: Contessa Wine Cellars, Domaine Berrien Cellars and Winery and Karma Vista Vineyards & Winery
COLOMA, Mich. — This year marks the 10th anniversary of Lake Michigan Shore Wine Country, a collaboration of more than a dozen wineries and tasting rooms in Southwestern Michigan. Together they form a wine trail that promotes locally produced wines, tastings and events. The region, known among wine connoisseurs as the Napa Valley of the Midwest, is an American Viticultural Area (AVA) similar to other acclaimed wine producing areas in California and Upstate New York. More than 10,000 acres of grapes grow in the Lake Michigan Shore AVA that stretches across the southwestern corner of Michigan from the Indiana-Michigan state lines, up the coast of Lake Michigan to the Kalamazoo River and east to the City of Kalamazoo.
"The temperate climate along Lake Michigan's eastern shore is very similar to France and Germany and is excellent for winemaking. So the number of wineries in Southwestern Michigan has grown exponentially in the last decade," said Tony Peterson, president of the Lake Michigan Shore group and wine master at Contessa Wine Cellars in Coloma, Mich. "We are very excited that we have recently added two new wineries to our trail, Founders Wine Cellar and Gravity."
Peterson said Founders Wine Cellar is new to the region, but its wine master, Len Olson, has a long history in the area's wine industry. In the late 1960s, Olson was the first to plant commercial European wine grapes in Southwestern Michigan. His award-winning wines were served in the White House during Gerald R. Ford's presidency. "Len changed the course of our local vineyards and wineries," said Peterson. "His European-style wines helped to put our region on the map and led wine connoisseurs to take our craft seriously." Olson left the area in the 1980s to pursue winery and brewery endeavors in other states, but he recently returned to his roots. For directions or to learn more about Founders' award-winning wines, wine tasting hours and seasonal events, visit www.founderswinecellar.com
The wine trail's other new member is Gravity winery. It specializes in producing small batches of European-style wines made from grapes grown on its 30 acres in Baroda. Gravity's wine maker, Rockie Rick, brings a fresh approach to area wine selections. The winery's spacious tasting room offers both indoor and outdoor seating with a view of the vineyards and a lake. It also takes a novel approach to tasting, offering visitors $5 wine flights to sample available vintages. For directions, a list of wines and upcoming events, visit www.gravitywine.com.
Peterson said three Lake Michigan Shore wineries are also celebrating 10-year anniversaries: Contessa Wine Cellars (contessawinecellars.com) and Karma Vista Vineyards & Winery (karmavista.com) in Coloma, Mich. and Domaine Berrien Cellars and Winery (domaineberrien.com), Berrien Springs, Mich. Each of the wineries has distinguished itself over the past decade and are popular stops along the wine trail. Contessa Wine Cellars' tasting room is reminiscent of an Italian villa and provides a beautiful, terraced view overlooking the vineyards. Karma Vista is a casual yet contemporary winery that offers an exceptional hilltop vista and serves locally made cheeses with its fun selection of vintages. Domaine Berrien offers seating indoors and outdoors for enjoying their wines, locally made cheeses and sausages. They are also a dog-friendly stop for visitors traveling with their pets. All three wineries will host events to mark their anniversaries. Check their individual websites for details.
For a calendar of events along the wine trail or a free map, visit www.lakemichiganshorewinetrail.com or stop at individual wineries.