Climate change’s impact on wine grapes under study

By DANIELLE WOODWARD
Capital News Service
LANSING –If you sip your favorite wine and it tastes a bit funny, climate change may be the culprit. More extreme weather, like unpredictable springs and long summer droughts, is to blame for changes in grape production, said Erwin Elsner a small fruit educator at Michigan State University. Scientists say extreme weather is one of the consequences of climate change caused by the burning of fossil fuels. What that means to wine production is as yet unclear, and it’s still too early to tell for certain, Elsner said. “If we could tell our growers that they could expect consistent warming trends, it would be beneficial, but at this point all we have is a more unpredictable climate.

Winemakers pressing for new grape varieties

By KYLE CAMPBELL
Capital News Service
LANSING — As wine grape growers prepare for what many hope will be another strong season, some members of the industry also hope that this year’s crop will reflect innovation. Experiments with new grape varieties have been underway since 2007 at Michigan State University’s Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Center in Traverse City. This year, some growers expect to see the first production of wines from at least two varieties of red grapes that are new to the state — teroldego and lagrein. They’re among a few dozen tested during the past few years in an effort to diversify the wine produced in Michigan, particularly reds. Michigan reds have been a weak point in the eyes of judges and critics, said Lee Lutes, a winemaker and general manager of Black Star Farm winery in Suttons Bay.

MSU Research with Growing Wine Industry

MSU Assistant Professor Paolo Sabbatini is leading research projects regarding the wine industry, which has been growing steadily in Michigan.  His research focuses on wine, juice grapes, and how Michigan’s environment, climate, and other factors affect their growth. Michigan currently has over 53 wineries, and those in the industry want to keep growing.  The goal of the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council is to continue working to increase wine production in the state.