Just as you may think of California when you think of Cabernet Sauvignon, or France when you think of rosé, Michigan is becoming known for producing many top-quality wines. We have compiled a list of the most common varieties being grown in our region, although many wines that you will try in the Tip of the Mitt AVA may be a blend of several grapes.
This dark-skinned, French American hybrid grape buds late and matures early, making it highly suitable for Northern Michigan’s short growing season. It has high levels of pre-fermentation sugar and acidity, but low tannin. It is often made into dry, sweet or rose styles of wine, and even sometimes used to make port. It has deep, rich flavors of blackcurrant, plum and sometimes chocolate.
This white variety of Frontenac produces grapes with a decadent gold color that lend themselves to a colder climate. It often yields a dry, acidic wine with a medium body, similar to that of sauvignon blanc. While it smells sweeter than it tastes, its notes are often fruity, with hints of tropical fruit and citrus.
This mutation of Frontenac produces grapes with gray-purple skin and light flesh, yielding a wine with a subtle peach-pink color. The dominant aromas in this varietal, like Frontenac blanc, are citrus and tropical fruits. With its balance of sugar and acidity, it lends itself to the production of both sweet and dry wines.
The golden colored grapes of this brand new varietal yield a light-yellow wine with aromas of pear, melon, minerals and subtle honey. Its complex flavor structure gives it lots of potential as a wine maker’s grape. While its grapes have low acidity and high sugar levels, it is able to produce a wine that is clean with a long finish.
This light-skinned variety was bred to resist extremely cold climates. They are ideal for producing wines that are off-dry and semi-sweet, but some retain acidity, which balances them. This variety is relatively aromatic, with flavors of stone fruits, like peaches, and tropical fruits like pineapple.
Northern Michigan’s most commonly grown variety, Marquette grapes, are a blue-black color and are genetically the grandson of Pinot Noir. The wines produced from its grapes are typically medium bodied, with cherry and berry aromas. In wines with more complex examples, tobacco and leather tasting notes may also be apparent, and sometimes a peppery finish.