Proos: Celebrate Michigan Wine Month

LANSING – Sen. John Proos announced that Gov. Rick Snyder has proclaimed April as “Michigan Wine Month” to honor Michigan’s wide selection of quality wines and the wine industry’s significant contribution to the economy.

“This season, I encourage residents to support our local vineyards by visiting a winery and seeing their impact on southwest Michigan’s economy,” said Proos, St. Joseph. “Winemaking is a thriving industry in Michigan, with the state adding 10 new wineries this year, and the early spring is a prime time to taste what southwest Michigan vineyards have to offer.”

Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Director Keith Creagh said: “Michigan’s 81 wineries welcome more than one million visitors to their tasting rooms each year and offer a truly Pure Michigan agri-tourism experience. Not only do these businesses offer a quality product and memorable experience, but our wine and grape industries also contribute nearly $800 million to the state’s economy annually.”

Because the region sits on Lake Michigan, one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world, southwest Michigan’s climate remains temperate throughout the year and shelters the grapes from extreme heat and cold.  The large amount of snowfall that region receives acts as insulation for the plant’s roots and prevents freezing during the winter months; and the plentiful rain in the warm months nourishes the crops until harvest time.

“April marks the end of last year’s harvest as those wines are being bottled and the beginning of this year’s grape growing season, making this an exciting time to visit the wineries,” said Richard Moersch, owner of Round Barn Winery in Baroda. “We are so lucky in southwest Michigan to have a climate where we can create many varieties of quality wine.”

Proos noted that residents can visit his website at www.senatorjohnproos.com for the southwest Michigan wine trail’s map of wineries in southwest Michigan.  Residents may also check out www.michiganwines.com for a listing of winery-related events or to download a copy of the 2011 Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council Magazine.