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.

Climate change’s impact on wine grapes under study

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.

Soon you may BYOB to Michigan restaurants

Capital News Service
LANSING – It’s date night. Don’t forget the cologne, your nicest earrings – and your favorite bottle of pinot grigio? Yes, it may soon be okay to “BYOB” (bring your own bottle) to your favorite restaurants. A bill introduced by Rep. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, would allow customers to bring their own bottles of wine to any establishment licensed to serve alcohol and willing to allow it. “I had visited Illinois and a few other places out of state that had these laws, and I thought it was a neat idea,” Stamas said.

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.