I always look forward to the annual Michigan Grape & Wine Conference that occurs every February. Having now attended for five years, I am getting to know my way around and to enjoy seeing familiar faces while meeting new friends.
Michigan is ahead of the wine making curve in the Midwest. Most winemakers here started out as farmers and then figured out that a good way to add value (and $$$) to their bottom line was to turn their fruit into wine.
While there were some early experimenters in wine making (even before Prohibition), the industry started gaining traction in the late '70s and has grown since then. While early efforts focused on country wines (sweet and fruit driven), in the recent past, the tide has risen and even some noted wine writers such as Eric Asimov of the New York Times has noted the quality of MI wines especially aromatic whites such as Pinot Blanc and Riesling.
The annual Conference is a great place to continue learning. This morning I attended a workshop on social media as well as one on testing wines for consistency (what wine makers call bench or lab work).
Later in the day, I will enjoy learning more about wine marketing (traditional and digital outlets). Tomorrow we will enjoy a wine tour of the Old Mission Trail (one of two AVAs in the Traverse City area), I can't wait!