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Monday, 12 October 2009 20:00

Welcome to Regional Wine Week, when wine writers and bloggers nationwide take up arms in support of their local juice.

It's the brainchild of newspaper wine guys Jeff Siegel, who writes for papers in Dallas and Fort Worth, and Dave McIntyre, of The Washington Post. Last year, they jointly started the Drink Local Wine website and recruited wine writers from around the country to participate in the Regional Wine Week project.

Now around here, scribbling about local juice happens year 'round. Asking MichWine to "Support your local winemaker" carries all the impact of suggesting a vegetarian give up steak for Lent.

So what makes this week different from all other weeks?

Most of the year, I take for granted that folks who stumble onto these pages already number among the faithful. But this week -- if Jeff and Dave and their other minions are doing their job -- regional wine sites like MichWine find lots of new visitors who may need a primer -- or a refresher course.

So let's review the Top Ten Reasons to Drink Michigan Wine.

(Note: If you happen to reside elsewhere, feel free to substitute the name of your state for Michigan. Unless that state happens to be Ohio, in which case simply accept the fact that your wines are inferior to ours.)

#10: You'll always have a built-in excuse for a day or weekend trip. "Honey, we're almost out of Pinot Gris. Let's go out to the winery and pick up another case this weekend." Try doing that with something from Australia or Spain. 

#9: If you're obsessive-compulsive, visiting 65 Michigan wineries is a more manageable goal than visiting all 50 state capitals.

#8: It's planet-friendly. Wine shipped from California or France burns more fossil fuel and pumps more noxious emissions into the atmosphere than bottles that travel a couple of hundred miles at most to reach your palate.

#7: You'll learn lots of new words. Names like Vidal, Vignoles, Traminette and Frontenac. Some of them will taste very good and enter your long-term vocabulary.

#6: On a related note, you'll find out that Lemberger is not a cheese.

#5: You'll support local agriculture. Every time you buy wine from Michigan grapes -- check the label carefully! -- you help another Michigan farmer to stay in business.

#4: You'll befuddle wine snobs at blind tastings when they discover that Riesling they were sure came from Germany's Rheinpfalz was actually made from grapes that grew on Old Mission Peninsula.

#3: You'll help Michigan's economy -- and we can sure use it. The wine industry is one of the few growth sectors in Michigan business, creating new jobs and pumping hundreds of millions of dollars annually into the state's shaky finances.

#2: Michigan is the only state where you can suggest your guests might enjoy some Sex* before dinner without giving offense.

And the #1 reason to drink Michigan wine:

It's really good juice. These days, Michigan's top wines regularly earn trophies, medals and critical plaudits nationwide. So if you haven't tried Michigan wine recently, you haven't tried Michigan wine.


*For noobs and out-of-staters, "Sex" is a sparkling wine made by Larry Mawby under his M. Lawrence label.

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Need to Know


Early results from an experiment by Chateau Margaux's Paul Pontallier indicate that screwcaps may age red wine better than natural cork -- plus eliminate any risk of corked bottles, as reported in The Drinks Business. 


The 2011-2 mild weather was healthy for Michigan's vineyards, but it's played havoc with state winemakers who leave grapes on the vine in hopes that they'll freeze for the production of icewine, reports AP writer John Flesher.


Recently-deceased Korean dictator Kim Jong Il was a wine geek (and reputed alcoholic) with a 10,000-bottle cellar, according to ex-Slate wine columnist Mike Steinberger. Kim earlier gave up Hennessy Cognac on doctor's orders.


Warming climate may help cooler grape-growing regions -- like England -- but could damage places like Napa, writes jounalist John McQuaid in Yale's environmental magazine.


Western Farm Press reports that Cornell Prof Miguel Gomez is studying how smaller wineries can jointly create a successful cool-climate wine region. He'll look at emerging areas in Michigan, New York and Missouri.


Here's one for some Michigan entrepreneur to try! A just-opened Long Island outlet mall store will sell nothing but New York State wines. Starting inventory at Empire State Cellars: 400 labels from 150 wineries.


Want a refresher about Michigan wine history and potential? Get a quick two page cheat-sheet by Layne Cameron in Western Farm Press, and make some allowances for the MSU-centricity (the author's employer).

Links to wine news from Michigan and elsewhere. Use the Contact Form to let us know what should be here.


Recently-deceased Korean dictator Kim Jong Il was a wine geek (and reputed alcoholic) with a 10,000-bottle cellar, according to ex-Slate wine columnist Mike Steinberger. Kim earlier gave up Hennessy Cognac on doctor's orders.