Beer, Wine & Beverages

April is Michigan Wine Month!

Future wine.. by Daylily18
Future wine.. by Daylily18

Governor Rick Snyder has declared April as “Michigan Wine Month” to honor Michigan’s wide selection of quality wines and the wine industry’s significant contribution to the economy. Sales of Michigan wine in the state rose more than 6 percent in 2012, while total wine sales increased just 1 percent. Michigan wine sales have outpaced total wine sales over the past 10 years, doubling Michigan wineries’ market share to 6.5 percent.

The Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council has added 11 new wineries to its roster over the last year — for a total of 101 wineries that support Michigan agriculture by using primarily Michigan grapes and other fruit for their wines. Michigan’s wineries welcome more than 1 million visitors to their tasting rooms each year, and Michigan’s wine and grape industries contribute more than $800 million to the state’s economy annually.

Michigan Wine Grape Acreage Growth and the Grand Rapids Wine Festival!

Pour-Over by TerryJohnston
Pour-Over by TerryJohnston

Our winner is Kimberly W. who writes she’s excited to check out Six-One-Six restaurant. Their festival menu looks delicious: Braised Devries Pork Shoulder with Butternut-Chipotle Crema, Salsa Verde, Micro Cilantro and Lime! Six-One-Six is a special favorite of of Absolute Michigan as in addition to their delicious offerings, they have a focus on locally sourcing food & drink!

Before we get to the great news on Michigan’s wine industry, we’d like to give you a chance to meet a lot of the industry leaders with a pair of tickets to the Grand Rapids Wine, Beer & Food Festival good for either Friday or Saturday!

The festival takes place November 8-10 at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids and is not to be missed! It brings together dozens of Michigan wineries, breweries, cideries and restaurants along with wine & food distributors from around the nation and world and a host of acclaimed food & wine experts offering tasting & seminars to create one of Michigan’s best culinary experiences. Click the link or watch the video below for more!

To enter, all you have to do is send an email to with your name, a contact phone number and either your favorite Michigan wine, beer or cider OR a restaurant, winery or brewery that you are excited to check out. We’ll draw a winner from the emails we receive tomorrow (Friday) at 11 AM!

Michigan’s wine grape acreage doubled over the past decade, according to a report recently released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service. While acreage of juice & jelly grapes have remained steady at about 12,000 acres over the past decade, acreage of wine grapes has doubles from 1,300 to 2,650 acres, making Michigan the 5th largest grower of wine grapes in the US. According to the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council, there are 101 commercial wineries producing more than 1.3 million gallons of Michigan wine annually. That number has increased from 32 wineries in 2002 producing 400,000 gallons. For more information about the Michigan wine grape industry, visit the council’s website,

“This data confirms the steady growth of the wine industry,” said Gordon Wenk, Deputy Director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development, who also chairs the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council. “Michigan’s wineries are committed to the concept of regional identity by utilizing a high percentage of Michigan-grown fruit in their wines.”

grapes after sunset rain by aimeeern
grapes after sunset rain by aimeeern

Riesling is the most widely planted wine grape, with acreage nearly tripling in the past decade, and Michigan Rieslings and earned more than 20 top awards in 2012 for Riesling wines from bone dry to sweet late harvest & ice wine. It’s more than Riesling though. Cabernet Franc, a hearty, cooler climate red grape akin to the better known Cabernet Sauvignon also tripled in the past decade. Pinot Gris nearly quadrupled and Pinot Noir moved past Chardonnay as the state’s second most planted variety, with acreage increasing 150 percent in the last 10 years.

All in all, more than 40 varieties of wine grapes with at least two acres of production were reported. Traditional European varieties (vinifera) account for two-thirds of Michigan’s wine grape acreage. The balance is mainly comprised of hybrid varieties (crosses between European and native North American varieties). Get the complete results at!

Here’s a video from last year courtesy our friends at Michigan by the Bottle:

Pumpkinpalooza – All About Michigan Pumpkins

Sincere pumpkin patch by Larry the BikerAbout this photo, Larry the Biker writes “Linus may have found his spot in Bruce Township, Michigan. A farmer told me once that Macomb County, Michigan is one of the largest producers of pumpkins in the United States.”

Kathy Siler of the Michigan Ag Council has a great article entitled In Search of the Great Michigan Pumpkin that notes that US Department of Agriculture’s statistics for 2010 ranked Michigan second in the nation with 7,400 acres of pumpkins planted. She also tells the centuries old legend of Stingy Jack, the Irish cheapskate who gave the name to the Jack-o-lantern and shares a lot information, including a recipe for Pilgrim Pumpkin Pie. While we are a big producer, the Kalamazoo News says that the 2011 pumpkin crop is a little smaller than usual, so today might be a good day to head to your local pumpkin patch!

The best listing we found is at Pumpkin Patches and more. Taste the Local Difference has a nice list of northern Michigan pumpkin farms and notes that in early colonial times, pumpkins were used as an ingredient for the crust of pies, not the filling. We’ll explore that in the Absolute Michigan kitchens and report! Their Pumpkin page has more facts including:

  • Pumpkins are a nutritious, low-fat, low-calorie food.
  • They are high in potassium and Vitamin A and are also a good source of beta-carotene.
  • Pumpkin seeds are rich in magnesium, copper and cholesterol-lowering phytosterols.
  • There are many varieties of pumpkins besides the standard Jack-O-Lantern and pie pumpkins. Some especially fun ones are Jack B. Little miniatures, white pumpkins, Australian Blues, and Atlantic Giants.
  • Pumpkins were once believed to eliminate freckles and were used as a remedy for snakebites.

Click through for more and a slew of great pumpkin recipes including Pumpkin ButterPumpkin Nachos (seriously), Pumpkin Thyme Rigatoni, and Potage au Potiron, a delicious soup made in the pumpkin! Pumpkins aren’t just for eating – some of Michigan’s brewmasters have brewed up some pumpkin ales. Click that link for a list and don’t forget about Jolly Pumpkin and their La Parcela Pumpkin Ale!

Of course the main use of pumpkins at this time of year is carving, and Michigan has some incredible artisans including “Pumpkin Ed” Moody, a specialist in giant pumpkin carving. Click the photo to see some of his work and also to learn about his new project, Karving for Kids that will allow Ed to carve for kids at Children’s Hospitals around the country. You can see another astonishing pumpkin carver in action in the video below!

Much more pumpkiny goodness at Absolute Michigan keyword pumpkin!

As promised, here’s a CBS News video of Michigan master carver Ray Villafane – this guy’s work is jaw-dropping!


A great weekend for beer in the Great Lakes State!

We got an email from the Traverse City Microbrew & Music Festival asking us to remind folks about this weekend’s festivities. A quick check revealed several opportunities to raise a glass to the Great Beer State on tap.

This Friday & Saturday (August 24 & 25) the 4th annual Traverse City Microbrew & Music Festival returns to the beautiful grounds of the Village at Grand Traverse Commons. It’s our front yard at Absolute Michigan and an incredible place for a summer festival. The crew at Porterhouse Productions brings together over 50 breweries, cideries & wineries from Michigan and elsewhere and backs that up with a top-notch slate of entertainment. Friday night is Pint Night (alcohol sales benefit Cherry T Ball & Goodwill Inn) and a concert with country music stars Dierks Bentley & Rachel Holder. Saturday  features all the breweries plus a great musical lineup that includes Absolute Michigan favorite The Ragbirds along with a full slate of entertainment that includes Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, the Dirty Guv’nahs and more.

Gallery of photos right herehere and click for all the who, what & when of this big celebration.

If you can’t make it up to Traverse City, don’t despair. This week is also the first-ever Lansing Beer Week. There’s a Beer Tasting Cruise on Friday night and a Brewery Bus tour on Saturday. Click the link for all the details.

Beer Color Wheel

Beer Color Wheel by dblstripe

The good folks at New Belgium Brewing (makers of the “Fat Tire” ales) are also kicking off a tour of Michigan next weekand as a part of that, Brewery Vivant of Grand Rapids is releasing the first of 2 collaborative brews called “Escoffier”.

The beer is named after the French master chef of the same name. It’s deep amber in color and uses one of Brewery Vivant’s house Belgian yeast strains, as well as wild yeast from New Belgium called Brettanomyces Bruxellensis.

“Michigan has already been a great partner with a broad network of breweries, distributors and beer lovers,” said Bryan Simpson, New Belgium’s spokesman. “Working with Brewery Vivant has been a great way to meet and work with local brewers while making something new and unique for both breweries.”

A release party is scheduled at Brewery Vivant on August 27, followed by a Michigan release of draft and signature 16-ounce cans.

All this interest in craft brewing is doing more than putting new, local beers on the shelf. The Rapidian has a great feature about how it’s feuling a boom in organic hop growing in Michigan.

Here’s another of our favorite Michigan acts, the now defunct Ella Riot / My Dear Disco performing last summer!

  • Higher-Grounds-Mothers-Day
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    The Daily Michigan: Wake up your Funky Mamacita with Higher Grounds Coffee!

The Daily Michigan: Wake up your Funky Mamacita with Higher Grounds Coffee!

Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and we have a number of special giveaways to help you show the mothers in your life how much them mean to you! Today on The Daily Michigan one of our featured partners, Higher Grounds Trading Company will kick things off with a 1# bag of their Funky Mamacita Blend and a travel mug.

Funky Mamacita is full-bodied and smooth, with notes of roasted nuts and a bold, creamy finish. They created it in commemoration of the first Higher Grounds employee to have a baby! They know that moms are often on the run and unable to drink their coffee when it’s hot. Because cold coffee makes for sad mommies, they are including one of their great travel mugs.

Higher Grounds was founded to with the social mission to advance economic justice worldwide by identifying and supporting fair trade sources for the highest-quality coffees from around the world. Click to read about some of the work with girls & women they support.

Click here to sign up (and to learn how you can win)

April is Michigan Wine Month

Ready for the Harvest by lpwines
Ready for the Harvest by lpwines

Following tradition, Governor Snyder has once again proclaimed April to be Michigan Wine Month. Our state’s wine industry continues to grow at a steady pace, and the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council added 11 new wineries to its roster over the last year, giving Michigan a total of 92.

The 2011 vintage is by all counts amazing. Black Star Farms winemaker Lee Lutes has tasted many wines with his fellow vintners and relates “I don’t think there’s a winemaker in Leelanau who is not as excited about the 2011 vintage as they’ve ever been about any vintage. We have exceptional quality across a broad range of white and red wines with an almost unprecedented volume. Our 2011 Pinot Noirs and Rieslings are some of the best we’ve ever seen, and I think that every winery on the Peninsula is feeling the same level of enthusiasm for this vintage.”

Our friends Shannon and Cortney Casey at Michigan By the Bottle have jumped into Wine Month with both feet. They are once again offering their Super Huge Michigan Wine Month Giveaway. It’s bigger and better than ever in 2012 and features 28+ daily giveaways of all kinds of prizes & tickets from Michigan wineries and wine trails.

If you can’t make it out to the tasting rooms please take time to explore Michigan wine through Absolute Michigan’s Michigan Wine section and the Michigan Wine & Grape Industry Council web site to learn about the excellent offerings that are produced right here in the Mitten!

  • Fair Trade Olive Oil
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    The Daily Michigan: Fair Trade Olive Oil from Higher Grounds Trading Co

The Daily Michigan: Fair Trade Olive Oil from Higher Grounds Trading Co

Today on The Daily Michigan we have another offering from one of our featured partners, Higher Grounds Trading Co of Traverse City. Higher Grounds was formed to create connections between people who enjoy a fair trade and organic coffee and the amazing people who harvest the green coffee beans.

Recently, they added a new product to their line, fair trade, organic olive oil from Palestine. It’s extra virgin and cold pressed and proceeds directly benefit the families who grow the olives. We’re pairing that with a limited edition t-shirt commemorating the recent Run Across Palestine.

The Run Across Palestine is a project of On the Ground, a nonprofit that works to support fair-trade farmers all over the world. Higher Grounds founder Chris Treter helped to create On the Ground and you can learn all about the Run Across Palestine and their other projects in the video below or watch them all on YouTube!

Click here to sign up (and to learn how you can win)

Celebrate Valentine’s Day the Michigan Way

Here’s a whole ton of Valentine’s Day ideas. YOU probably have some other ideas – share them in the comments or right here or on our Facebook!

Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart. - Confucius by Church of One
Wheresoever you go,
go with all your heart. – Confucius
by Church of One

Next Tuesday, February 14th is Valentine’s Day – a day for lovers, sweethearts, paramours … and chocoholics. Like it, love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day is an annual tradition that will see over one billion valentines will be given out worldwide, 85% of those by women. However you choose to celebrate the holiday, consider making it a little more special with something from Michigan.

There’s plenty of delicious Valentine’s Day recipes from Pure Michigan at The Food Network also offers up some culinary advice for Valentine’s Day complete with a full Valentine’s menu. Lansing’s WLNS CBS channel 6 website has a complete Valentine Day section on their website where you can learn all kinds of useful information including (who knew?) that chocolate is an aphrodisiac. The folks at the Grand Rapids Press and have some tips for Valentine’s Day cooking with kids.

We have to remind you that February is National Cherry Month and cherries make a great and healthy way to bring the distinctive Valentine red into your celebrations. An affordable and tasty non-alcoholic beverage are cherry sparklers made with Michigan cherry juice and sparkling water.

On the adult beverage front, a whopping 95% of wine drinkers agree that wine makes a perfect gift, and you can’t go wrong with a  Michigan wine or  Michigan beer! The folks at MyNorth offer a listing of Northern Michigan sparkling wines to set the tone for your celebration. While bubbles are big, beers can also be appreciated. Dianna at Promote Michigan has let us in on her Love Affair with Michigan Beer, which features all kinds of special and regular brews from Michigan’s brewmasters. You can stay awake Ann Arbor Brewing’s Espresso Love featuring coffee, cozy up to the Decadent Dark Chocolate Ale from Atwater Brewing or go a little lighter with Dragonmead’s Redwing Raspberry Wheat. This is a great feature so definitely check it out!

Ginny, You Are My Shining Star by docksidepress
Ginny, You Are My Shining Star by docksidepress

If you’re left scratching your head over what to buy him or her, check out the ‘Valentine’s Day Gift Giving Guide‘ from  Don’t forget the furry friends in your life either! You can be a homeless pets Valentine when WXYZ-TV 7 in Detroit hosts their Annual Valentine’s Day Telethon to support the Michigan Humane Society. Tune in or donate online with the Michigan Humane Society!

If that’s not enough and you really want to get your Valentine on, check out Absolute Michigan keyword Valentine for food & gift ideas.

For a little eye candy, you should check out the Valentine slideshow from the Absolute Michigan flickr pool!

We also have a large number of Michigan web sites to check out (though if we’re missing one, be sure to add a link to it).

Flowers & Florists - say it with flowers

Chocolate - there’s also candy companies

Candles - lighting the way for romance for thousands of years

Jewelry -silver & gold, platinum and bronze, pick your favorite.

Wow, you actually made it to the end of this post – don’t forget to buy yourself a little something for Valentines Day!

The Daily Michigan: Private Tea Cupping from Light of Day Organics

Today on The Daily Michigan we’re giving away a private tea cupping for up to 6 people, to include matcha ceremonial green tea at Light of Day Organics.

Founder Angela Macke has a background in Holistic health, as an RN, educator and horticulturalist and based on her own positive experiences in utilizing gentle, natural rhythms to restore balance. Angela believes that a holistic approach is the most effective way to restore optimal health and a sense of well being, and crafts her teas accordingly.

Light of Day teas are grown organically and biodynamically under the guidelines of the National Organic Program and Demeter Biodynamic, then hand-harvested, dried in a licensed commercial farm kitchen, and packaged with great care with teas blended small batches to promote consistency, to maximize freshness and for optimal nutritive benefit. Sign up below and check out the video from Angela below where she shows you how to brew an ideal cup of tea!

Click here to sign up



Absolute Michigan Giveaway: Higher Grounds Trading Company

Absolute Michigan is committed to helping our readers get more out of Michigan with our regular giveaways of products and services from all kinds of Michigan businesses. It's free, fun and all you have to do to be eligible is to be on our email list!
If your business is interested in participating, you can get all the information right here.

Our BeansHigher Grounds Trading Co., was voted one of the top Michigan businesses to watch in 2010 and has been a big part of  getting the nonprofit On the Ground off the ground. On the Ground is involved in a variety of projects including the Chiapas Water Project, which brings clean drinking water to coffee growing regions in Mexico; the Run Across Ethiopia, which raises funds for Ethiopian education projects including the construction of schools in Ethiopian coffee-growing communities; and their latest endeavor – the Run Across Palestine. The Run is scheduled for February 2012 and will take place in olive growing centers of Palestine. Funds raised will support the purchasing and planting of thousands of olive trees and provide scholarships for the children of Palestinian olive farmers. Learn all about them and donate at the link above.

The projects of On the Ground share a common theme: supporting the farmers who supply fair-trade, gourmet goods by building infrastructure and capacity in their communities, and Higher Grounds is offering up some great gifts to celebrate the On the Ground’s projects:

  • Coffees for Change support the Chiapas Water Project, which was founded in 2005 after a group of local (Northern Michigan) residents visited Chiapas Mexico and witnessed the illness and poverty perpetuated by lack of access to potable water.
  • Seth & May’s “New Flower” CD was inspired and written as part of the The Run Across Ethiopia.  Seth and May  played in the schools, learned songs and dance moves from the children, learned Ethiopian scales and melodies from incredible ethio-jazz masters,  shared our music along the journey, sang for the runners, played for the people and ultimately wrote an entire album inspired by the experience.
  • Fair Trade Olive Oil benefits Palestinian olive farmers and celebrates the Run Across Palestine.
  • Finally, their Coffee Cards are made by the Michigan nonprofit Paperworks Studio which are produced by artists who have special needs and disadvantages.

All you need to do to enter is to be on our email list – sign up in the blue box above! Here’s a cool behind the scenes video of the recording of New Flower that you might enjoy!