In 2001, a group of winery owners gathered for the purpose to organize the wineries located in the southwest region of Michigan and the Lake Michigan Shore AVA in a collaborative effort to promote the wines and wineries as part of tourism in the region. The founding member wineries were: Contessa Wine Cellars, Domaine Berrien Cellars, Fenn Valley Vineyards Wine Cellar, Karma Vista Vineyards & Winery, Lemon Creek Winery, Round Barn Winery, Distillery & Brewery, St. Julian Winery, Tabor Hill Winery & Restaurant and Warner Vineyards. The organization was named Southwest Michigan Wine Trail and became a legal entity on February 19, 2002. Later, the group changed its name to Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail to align with the region’s federal designation as the Lake Michigan Shore American Viticultural Area (AVA) to strengthen awareness for the wines of this region. Initial tasks included the planning of wine trail weekends, the implementation of directional roads signs and design of a brochure with winery information and a map. Today (2020), the trail consists of 15 members including 12 Corners, Baroda Founders Wine Cellar, Cody Kresta Vineyard and Winery, Cogdal Vineyards, Contessa Wine Cellars, Domaine Berrien Cellars, Fenn Valley Vineyards & Cellars, Hickory Creek Winery, Karma Vista Vineyards & Winery, Lake Michigan Vintners, Lawton Ridge Winery, Lemon Creek Winery, St. Julian Winery & Distillery, White Pine Winery. Many of these wineries have a long history of wine making…long before the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail was established.
Since 2005, the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail has presented an annual wine festival along the shores of Lake Michigan. In 2020 the festival was suspended due to the COVID-19 virus. The event was held on the third Saturday of June. All of the LMSWT wineries participated to bring wine tasting to one location with great food and entertainment nestled between the dunes and the beach. This event brings the winemakers and owners together to talk about the wines and culture to enhance your tasting experience at the festival. Not many other festivals can boast that the owners and winemakers participate in festivals. This one is special to them and they want to share their knowledge, suggestions and stories with you.
The Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail is a collection and collaboration of 15 distinct wineries located in the Lake Michigan Shore AVA. The proximity to Lake Michigan provides the wineries, of the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail, with the ideal climate for growing wine grapes, but is an untapped travel and agri-tourism destination. Michigan wines are receiving increased national attention due to the recognition of their quality, and wines from from our region of Michigan are among the best the state has to offer. Within the broader AVA (American Viticultural Area) lies the smaller Fennville AVA.
The beachfront towns and the breathtaking sunsets add to the wine lovers’ experience. We even collaborate with our friends to the north, when their seasons are shortened by weather. The MiWineTrail brings the best harvest, wines and experiences as you enjoy award-winning Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Gewurztraminer, and yes, ice wines. We have wines to meet all taste palates.
The Lake Michigan Shore Wine AVA holds ninety percent (90%) of Michigan’s vineyards. This area is the historic cradle of Michigan’s viticulture with commercial vineyards dating back to 1867. *Since the region is part of the great Fruit Belt that produces most of America’s grapes for juice and jelly production, most of the area’s vineyards are planted to labrusca varieties like Concord and Niagara. Thus, the Lake Michigan Shore AVA wine grape acreage only amounts to a small percentage of its total, even though this acreage still represents nearly half of Michigan’s total wine grape production. Of the wine grapes now planted, vinifera varieties are a rapidly expanding portion of the portfolio. The broad AVA boundaries – which include the Fennville appellation – extend as far as 45 miles inland from the lakeshore, and are relatively uniform in climate and soils. The so called “Lake Effect” of Lake Michigan tempers the otherwise extreme northern climate. The characteristic soil and topography of the AVA results from a glacial moraine, with its slopes giving vineyards increased air-drainage to the lake, reducing the danger of frost settling on vines. This AVA has a warmer growing season, up to two or three weeks longer than northwestern Michigan. So come taste Michigan.
An easy drive from Chicago, Detroit, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and right here in Michigan. Spend your time experiencing the wine, the sunsets, the tranquil scenic views, rolling hill country, dunes and the vibrant beach towns.
Great Wines! It’s a Shore Thing.