Search This Blog

Monday, August 30, 2010

REVIEW: The History of Michigan Wines


THE HISTORY OF MICHIGAN WINES; 150 years of winemaking along the Great Lakes (History Press, 2010, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-59629-947-4, $19.99 US paper covers) is by Lorri Hathaway and Sharon Kegerreis, authors of 2007's From the Vine: exploring Michigan wineries. This book is kind of a pre-quel in that it covers the beginnings of the wine industry in Michigan, from about the mid-1800s to today. The authors look at a basic history of the region's early settlers, some terroir, and vitis labrusca.  Disaster struck early: rot came in 1883, temperance came along a few years later, and then Michigan was one of the earliest states to impose prohibition. So essentially the book covers 1930s to 2010. What's interesting to us in Ontario is the fact that there were several wineries operating in the Windsor border area after 1927, producing wine for Michigan consumption. These were bootleg operations across the Detroit River. Some of them moved over to Michigan after 1932 to establish the first real modern Michigan wineries. Hathaway and Kegerreis have taken plenty of colour and black/white photos of people, labels, and vineyards. Like many local histories, the account is somewhat episodic – which may be useful since there is no index. If you know the time period of key actions or names, then you can safely dip into a relevant chapter. Still, an index is always to be preferred

The book concludes with a long bibliography and a listing of 73 current wineries (with their websites) sorted by the four AVAs and other regions. There are no tasting notes or other points of evaluation.

Audience and level of use: for the wine history buff or Michigan local history reader.

Some interesting or unusual facts: the first vineyard for commercial winemaking was planted in 1863 in the Monroe region

The downside to this book: there is no index, which is a shame since it can be difficult to retrieve information and names of people.

The upside to this book: a good contribution to information about the wines of North America.

Quality/Price Rating: 86.

Dean Tudor, Ryerson University Journalism Professor Emeritus
Treasurer, Wine Writers' Circle of Canada
Look it up and you'll remember it; screw it up and you'll never forget it.
Creator of Canada's award-winning wine satire site at

No comments: