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Many people are unaware of the rich history steeped in the wine vineyards of the state of Michigan. The nearby French-Canadians along with American farmers paved the way as far back as 1679 for the future of beautiful vineyards and tasty wines.

The French Explorers discovered distinctive wild grape vines on a river in Michigan which is now called the Detroit River. Commander Antoine de la Moth Cadillac first planted grapevines at Fort Ponchartrain in Detroit during 1702. The French kept on exploring downriver to what is now known as the River Raisin. River Raisin runs into
Monroe and then empties out into Lake Earie. While traveling down River Raisin in 1792, they discovered it was bountiful with wild grape vines thereupon its name.

A History of Michigan's First Vineyard

Joseph M. Sterling was the first pioneer to establish the Pointe Aux Peaux wine company and produce wine for sale in 1868. Sterling had knowledge of winemaking he had learned in Europe and used it to prosper on 100 acres of grapes in Monroe, Michigan. He helped and encouraged neighboring farmers to grow their own vineyards. Before long, there were vineyards popping up everywhere! You can still visit Sterling State Park, named after Joseph M. Sterling.

Prohibition came along in 1918 as the 18th Amendment, putting some vineyards and local saloons out of business. With Canada nearby, it was easy to bootleg wine and spirits down the river to Monroe. Many risked their lives in the dangerous bootleg business. This went on for years until 1933, when the 21st Amendment repealed prohibition.

Two essential vineyard farmers in Ontario and Windsor, Canada, helped bring the wineries and vineyards back to Michigan once prohibition was repealed. The first farmer, Maurice R. Twomey, founded the Windsor Wine Company and second, Mariono Meconi began Border City Wine Cellars. Border City Wine Cellars was consumed in a treacherous fire and the grapes were none prompting Mariano Meconi to move to Detroit and begin again. Meconi’s winery is now known as St. Julian Wine Company, the oldest in the state. Maurice R. Twomey relocated his winery to the Detroit United Railway after prohibition and named it La Salle Wines and Champagne Company.

There are many wine tours in Michigan. Wine trails consist of vineyards and wineries grouped together for tourist fun and access. There are four extensive wine trails throughout Michigan:

A History of Michigan's First Vineyard

Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail

Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail is quite large with eleven members. They offer Wine Trail weekends, plenty of road signs and, a website to help tourists find them.

Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association

The Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association is made up of the Mawby Vineyards of Suttons Bay, Good Harbor Vineyards of Lake Leelanau, and Leelanau Wine Galleries of Omena. They put on the none other than Leland Wine and Food Festival every year.

Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula

Old Mission Peninsula has wineries all along the peninsula. They host fun wine trail events as well as a website.

Southeast Michigan Pioneer Wine Trail

The Southeast Michigan Wine Trail promotes the wines from their area. They host wine trail events and have a yearly wine tasting festival.

Why not purchase a Michigan State T-shirt, lake shirt, hat or hoodie from livnfresh.com and wine tour wearing Michigan pride!