Michigan celebrates wine month despite concerns for next season

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BARODA For another year, Governor Rick Snyder has declared April as Michigan Wine Month. The industry plays a key role in the state's agritourism, pumping out over one million gallons of wine a year. The thousands of acres of vineyards welcome some two million visitors a year.

Just in time for the month-long recognition in April, grape growers are inspecting their crop after a harsh winter. At Round Barn Winery in Baroda, Michigan, lead wine maker Matthew Moersch says the Polar Vortex will affect the grape vines.

"We've done some preliminary numbers and we know there's going to be some damage in the vineyard," said Moersch.

A poor crop won't affect summer 2014, but it could be long-lasting, potentially affecting two years in the future.

"We were really blessed last year in that we had a bumper crop, we almost harvested enough for two seasons anyway," said Moersch. "So, we were very fortunate that way."

As for taste, Moersch says certain blends will be affected more than others.

"It's a sensitivity factor. The grapes that were more affected would be the red varietals. Merlots, Cabernet Sauvignon. They're more cold-tender. Sauvignon Blanc is actually more tender. Things like Riesling, Gewürztraminer, any of the German varietals are more hardy typically and used to being grown in those regions," said Moersch.

To celebrate wine month, Moersch says most vineyards will use the time to get the word out about Michigan wine. There are some celebrations happening around the Wolverine State, but the main focus is out of state and releasing new blends to break the labeling barriers.

"This year will be our first release ever of Sauvignon Blanc," said Moersch. "We've been around for a long time, but we've kind of been labeled as a sweeter wine region, we're trying to break those barriers by releasing dryer styles."

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