SEARCH: Michigan Pioneer Wine Trail

In the Spring Issue of SEARCH Magazine,
Michele Roger talks about the Michigan Pioneer Wine Trailwine

There is a hidden gem few wine enthusiasts know of tucked into the winding, back roads just outside of Ann Arbor, Michigan. While most of the news hitting the media about Michigan involves the slow renaissance of Detroit or the threatened water ecology of the Great Lakes, there is something both news worthy and conservation friendly happening in this unlikely wine country.

In January of 2003, Per Lenet, a retired vintner, discovered untapped grant money offered to new wineries in Michigan. The deadline to receive grants was February. He gathered a small group of new growers for breakfast in a cafe that week. Lenet gave the group its name, Michigan Pioneer Wine Trail, and pursued grant support for the newly developing region. Little did he realize the significance of calling the vintners “pioneers. Competition with established wineries from the upper and west side of the state was fierce. All Michigan vineyards have recently endured the loss of two consecutive harvests, the first crop lost in 2014 due to record breaking cold, the second in 2015 due to a devastating hail storm. While some of the northern growers have shut their doors, the Pioneers zealously persevere.

Loan Oak Vineyard Estate is just off Ann Arbor Road in Grass Lake, Michigan. Owners Denise and Kip Barber founded the estate in 1997 with the savings they had set aside for retirement. The twenty-three acres was nothing more than scrub brush and forest when they bought it. While touring the untouched property, they fell in love with a giant oak tree that towered over the rest of the forest. They embraced the giant as a mascot, and the branding for Loan Oak was born…” to read the full article, check out the free eCopy here.

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