United States of Wine: Midwest Urban Wineries By Kathy Merchant
By Kathy Merchant
s the daylight hours of winter grow shorter, and the prospect of hunkering down for a few more months is upon us, most travel plans remain stuck on hold. With a hopeful eye turned toward the possibility of travel in Spring 2021, what about a Midwest road trip organized around urban wineries? Detroit, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Louisville—choose one or visit them all. There’s plenty more to do in each city to go along with a cool wine adventure. But first, what exactly is an urban w i n e r y ? S i m p l e , r i g h t ? It ’s a commercial winery located in an urban environment rather than in a familiar vineyard and winer y operation in a rural setting.
Photo courtesy of winemag.com
The full answer is a bit more nuanced. Urban wineries are not new. About two decades ago, the first pioneering urban wineries started to emerge as grape-to-glass operations in urban settings. As wine has gained popularity across all adult age groups, urban wineries are gaining currency. A 2018 article in Food and Wine reported that urban wineries are on the rise and “they’re crushing it.” There are three main types of grape-to-glass operations. One is managing vineyards in one place, say California, and making wine in a diﬀerent urban location. Another approach is contracting with growers from multiple locations, trucking grapes to an urban location for crush to bottling, and then presenting the result in an adjacent tasting room. A third type involves hiring a dedicated winemaker who oversees an entire operation from grape to bottle, leaving just the last step—the glass—for the experience at the urban winery. Now let’s plan a diverse trip starting in Michigan and heading south to Kentucky! These relative newcomers will welcome you with open arms. How fun to try something new from a familiar place, or something altogether new!
Detroit Vineyards “Superior Wines Made Right in the Heart of Detroit”
The owners of Detroit Vineyards (DV) first planted an acre of vines in 2015 in the Motor City’s East Side neighborhood. DV is committed to using all Michigan-grown grapes to produce wines ranging from crisp whites to full-bodied reds. In the
meantime, while the metro Detroit vines mature, DV purchases grapes on contract from Western Michigan wineries. Everything else, from crush to bottling, happens in Detroit. Grape varieties include familiar internationals such as Reisling and Pinot Noir, but the lineup also includes French hybrid grapes that grow well in the Midwest, including Traminette and Marquette.