Lake Michigan Shore AVA
Unique to the Midwest, the Lake Michigan Shore AVA
There are roughly 80 miles of actual Lake Michigan shoreline within the “Lake Michigan Shore” American Viticultural Area or AVA. The close proximity of the AVA to the lake and the prevailing westerly winds combine to give the AVA the "Lake Effect." In the growing season the area will accumulate an average of 2900 growing degree days during the season, more than Burgundy and Alsace in France, all of Germany and the Willamette Valley in Oregon. Regions of equal accumulation are Bordeaux and the Piedmont region of Italy.
The Lake Michigan Shore AVA is quickly gaining national recognition as a world class wine region. Wines from the Lake Michigan Shore are fruit forward, balanced, and food friendly, much more akin to the wines of Europe than to the wines of the west coast of the USA.
During the growing season, the average summer high temperature in the Lake Michigan Shore is 81F, with roughly 20 inches of rain. In the fall, Lake Michigan will give back the heat it accumulates during the summer months, extending the growing season and allowing for full ripening of red and white grape varieties alike. Lake Michigan also moderates winter temperatures, and the average winter low is 20F. Because of this, famous wine grape varieties that normally do not survive typical Midwestern winters will thrive in the Lake Michigan Shore AVA.
The gently sloping moraines along the shoreline were created 12 to 13 thousand years ago during the Wisconsin Glacial Period. There are over 42 different kinds of soils in the AVA and range widely in texture, drainage and slope. Most of the vineyard sites are located at elevations above 650ft. The highest elevations in the AVA are over 900 ft.
When speaking of the unique qualities of the wines from the Lake Michigan Shore AVA, we are in actuality talking about their sense of place, or as the French would say “Terroir.”
The Lake Michigan Shore AVA encompasses all of Berrien and Van Buren counties and includes parts of Allegan, Kalamazoo and Cass counties. All of our growers are located within this region. The AVA is bordered on the northern edge by the Kalamazoo River, on the southern edge by the Michigan-Indiana border, and on the eastern edge by the path of the Grand Trunk Western and Penn Central railroad lines.