Grist / Michigan State University Extension / esseffe / Getty Images Five miles from Lake Michigan, on sloping hills and down a gravelly road, sits the Mountain Road Estates vineyard, owned by Michigan’s oldest winery, St. Julian. Located in the state’s “fruit belt,” the 25-acre vineyard is surrounded by neighboring peach, cherry, and blueberry farms. Near the entrance, rows of pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon grow just feet apart. Typically, these two varieties wouldn’t be seen in such close proximity — pinot noir thrives in colder climates. Cabernet sauvignon, meanwhile, prefers warmer ones. “Warm growing season throughout the year is allowing us to make some really classic varietals, like cabernet sauvignon,” said Nancie Oxley, the vice president of St. Julian’s and a winegrower for several decades, gesturing to the rows of grape vines just starting to bud. “I don’t know if we would’ve been able to do that 20 years ago.” When St. Julian first opened in 1921, the company grew mostly native varietals like Niagara and Concord, because the cold climate and extreme winters in Michigan were too harsh for European grapes. Now, St. Julian grows over 50 different varietals, including a number originating from Europe. The wine […]


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