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April is Michigan Wine Month - Get Out and Get Sipping!

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Grapes at a southwest Michgan winery

April has been declared "Michigan Wine Month" by Gov. Rick Snyder to honor our state's wide selection of quality wines and the wine industry's significant contribution to the economy. The number of wineries in the state continues to grow with 117 producers of Michigan wine currently recognized by the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council, a program within the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development that is charged with supporting industry growth.

That national attention is evidenced by 230 awards earned by 32 producers of Michigan wine in national competitions in 2014. Consumers are paying attention; sales of Michigan wine has doubled over the past 10 years, outpacing the growth in all wine sales in Michigan and increasing Michigan wineries' market share to 6.5 percent.

Michigan wineries welcome more than 2 million visitors each year.

"April is an ideal time to venture out and sample wines in winery tasting rooms or your favorite restaurant," said Gordon Wenk, Deputy Director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and Chair of the council.

In Kalamazoo, The Wine Loft hosts "Meet our Makers" every Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m. This Thursday, Round Barn Winery will be featured. You will have the opportunity to meet the wine maker, taste the wine, and network with other wine enthusiasts.

Brandy Gulley, Director of Marketing for Millennium Restaurant Group, said, "Michigan wines impact our local economy as well as the State of Michigan. During 2013, our company launched an initiative to source as many of our products as possible from Michigan. The 'Meet Our Makers' event is a great way to share our love for Michigan wine with our customers."

The Wine Loft has one of the most extensive selections of Michigan wines available locally. Gulley shared that her favorite Michigan wine is a late harvest Riesling by Chateau Grand Traverse.

Food Dance, another downtown Kalamazoo establishment, will also highlight Michigan wines with a special event. On Friday, April 24, from 5-7 p.m. a "Wine and Chocolate Tasting" will be offered. The free event will include special guests from Lawton Ridge Winery and Cherri's Chocol'art.

If you aren't able to attend the events at The Wine Loft and Food Dance or perhaps you would prefer to explore local wine offerings independently, be sure to visit these local wineries:

Lawton Ridge Winery - 8456 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo
Peterson and Sons Natural Wines - 9375 E. P Ave., Kalamazoo
Cody Kresta Vineyard and Winery - 45727 27th St., Mattawan
St. Julian - 7166 S. Kalamazoo St., Paw Paw
Warner Vineyards - 706 S. Kalamazoo St., Paw Paw

April also marks the start of wine festival season and numerous events that showcase Michigan wines. The following are just a sample; visit michiganwines.com/events for a complete list.

April 20 - The annual Michigan Wines Showcase will return to The Rattlesnake Club in Detroit. More than 25 wineries will be represented. Attendees will have the opportunity to sample more than 100 of Michigan's finest wines, talk with winery owners and wine masters, and sample lavish appetizers.

May 2-3 - The Spring Sip & Savor event will feature food and wine pairings at 22 wineries on the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail.

May 16 - Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula will celebrate Blossom Day with new release tastings, spring-inspired food pairings, and select barrel and tank tastings prior to bottling!

June 20 - The 10th annual Lake Michigan Shore Wine Festival will toast to the picturesque beaches and award-winning wineries in Southwest Michigan.

For more information about "Michigan Wine Month," read the Governor's Proclamation of April as Michigan Wine Month in its entirety and watch the "Michigan Wine Month" Pure Michigan video on YouTube.

Be sure to connect with Michigan Wines on Facebook and Twitter.

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