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Northwest Michigan's wine grape harvest showing early positive results

Dan Meyers

The wine grape harvest in northwest Michigan is underway. The hot and dry conditions from summer are generating good results for both farmers and winemakers.

"We didn't have a lot of rain overall this season," said Nikki Rothwell, a fruit specialist with Michigan State University extension. "And then that usually indicates that this fruit especially grapes, or other fruits in general will have that higher brix or sugar content. And so that usually leads to really nice wines at the end of the season."

The sparkling wine grape harvest wrapped up last week. It was the first in because farmers don’t want the grapes to produce too much sugar.

According to Rothwell, early signs are that this year’s harvest has produced nothing but good grapes for wine making. The second most planted wine grape per acre in Michigan, chardonnay, will be harvested soon. Rothwell said farmers are trying to gauge when the moment is right.

"You really want those brix levels, so that sugar level, to be as high as possible before you can really make nice wines because those wines, those sugars get converted into alcohol content," said Rothwell.

Michigan’s 3,000 acres of vineyards puts it in the top ten states in the country for wine production. The state produces more than 2.75 million gallons of wine per year, most of which doesn’t leave the Great Lakes region.

According to the Michigan craft beverage council, more than 250 million dollars' worth of travel expenditures are linked to craft beverages, including wine, each year.

Rick joined WCMU as a general assignment reporter in March 2022.