Saturday, March 23, 2013

Pure Michigan sells the sizzle about Michigan wines, while MSU sells the steak

Two videos about Michigan's wines crossed my YouTube feeds last Monday. The first came from Pure Michigan, and it sold the attractions of Michigan's wines to tourists and other consumers. As I pointed out in the subject line, it sold the sizzle.

Wineries | A Pure Michigan Summer

With more than 100 wineries nestled among 15,000 acres of scenic vineyards, Michigan truly is wine country. Paired with fresh, local ingredients found in local cuisine, a Pure Michigan wine tasting trip is something you can't find anywhere else.
The second came from Michigan State University, and it was more substantive, selling the steak about the state's wine industry, as well as Michigan State's role in helping develop it.

Cultivating an industry—from vine to wine

Michigan is becoming an internationally recognized wine-producing region with help from Michigan State University, which has played a pivotal role in all aspects of the industry's growth. Michigan wineries draw more than 800,000 visitors annually and pump $300 million into the state's economy.
That's an impressive number of tourists, a figure that the Pure Michigan ad hopes to at least maintain and possibly increase.

For more from MSU on the subject, I quote Michigan wineries raise a toast to 2012, the press release accompanying the second video. It relays two interesting facts about how last year's unseasonably warm March weather, followed by a cold snap and then record heat and drought, not only didn't hurt the grape crop, but actually helped it.
Last March, temperatures spiked to 80 degrees. The bitter-cold weather that followed wiped out much of the state’s fruit crops. The one exception ­– wine grapes.

Michigan has already established itself as a wine destination, and 2012 will certainly further the state’s premier status, said Paolo Sabbatini, Michigan State University assistant professor of viticulture.

“The quality of grapes last year was exceptional, perfect ripening conditions of the fruit allowed several grape varieties to perfectly express all their varietal characteristics,” he said. “Much of the fruit harvested last year will produce reserve-quality wine.”

Surprisingly, one of the biggest contributors to earning the coveted reserve status, bestowed to only the best wines, was the drought. Since wine grapes bud later than most fruit, they avoided the damage caused by the April freeze. March’s early warm spell, however, did give them an early start. The longer growing season, combined with the hot and dry summer, gave the grapes more time to fully ripen to levels that are pivotal for the production of quality wines.

“The early drought was actually beneficial to the vines; it reduced berry size and canopy growth – two factors that are fundamentally important for fruit quality. Reduced berry size concentrates flavor and aromas and vine growth was reduced, improving canopy microclimate and overall efficiency,” Sabbatini said. “Grapes in southwest Michigan experienced a season quite similar to those in California’s Napa Valley for heat accumulation or growing degree days.”
Looks like Michigan's wine industry might actually be helped by climate change. Fancy that.

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