Warmer weather means longer growing season for wine grapes

Capital News Service

LANSING — Good news for Michigan vineyards: the time grapes have to ripen has dramatically increased over the past few decades. “It’s nearly grown an entire month in just four decades,” said Steven Schultze, an assistant professor of geography at the University of South Alabama who discovered the shift as a doctoral student at Michigan State University. “One of our biggest findings, just since 1971, the growing season in Southwest Michigan has increased by 28.8 days,” Schultze said. Michigan has been growing grapes for a long time, mostly for juice and jams. It was only in the late 1960s that most of the state’s vineyards tried growing wine grapes, Schultze said. The state has 15,000 acres of grapes, a fifth of them wine grapes, said Paolo Sabbatini, an associate professor with the MSU Department of Horticulture.