How ‘Bout These Apples?

As the last few weeks of summer pass by, it’s time to start thinking of cozier thoughts and crunching leaves.

This means trips to the apple orchard, hayrides, donuts, and apple cider for many Michiganders. Although apple orchards are commonly thought of as simply a fall tourist destination, they have more to offer the state throughout the year than you might think. Regional cideries, like West Michigan’s Vander Mill, depend on local orchards to supply them with large quantities of quality fruit for year-round cider production.

Can it!

There are nearly 300 breweries, microbreweries, and brewpubs operating in Michigan with over 30 operations just in the 269 area code.

“You are never more than an hour from a fresh pint of hand-crafted beer. Brewing operations are located in communities throughout the entire state, many of which are revitalizing main streets and resurrecting historical buildings,” according to the Michigan Brewers Guild. “Brewery tap rooms and restaurants are diverse, unique gathering places that are connected and committed to their local communities. Additionally, local breweries have a profound impact on Michigan’s economy.”

A Coming of Age

Southwest Michigan and its wine country are very much coming of age in the last couple of decades. This area, now known as the Southwest Michigan Wine Trail, isn’t only producing your grandfather’s wine—wine which were mainly fruity styles from French-American hybrids with high residual sugar. Many are shocked to find full bodied reds and lovely dry style acid driven whites that make one reminisce about wines of the old world. There is a wind of change in the Southwest Michigan which gives one much to get excited about.

There have been many firsts that we have experienced over the last 45 plus years. There are two very important American Viticultural Areas (AVA) in Southwest Michigan. Fennville The Fennville AVA was founded with the establishment of the Fenn Valley Winery and the Welsch family being the driving force in this area. The Lake Michigan Shore AVA followed in 1983 anchored over the years by producers such as Tabor Hill and St. Julian. These viticultural areas still stand, but continue to grow and evolve with many new vineyards and wineries dotting the landscape.

A Reason to Lift your Spirits

The U.S. craft spirits industry is booming. With more than 1,315 craft distillers nationwide and growing, the “craft” movement is taking hold in a way that could mirror the success craft brewers have had in recent years. And with a reputation for its world-class breweries, Kalamazoo is poised to be a destination point for the craft spirits industry as well.

Distilleries like Green Door Distilling Co. and Kalamazoo Still House are bringing craft spirit production to downtown. Retail stores, bars, and restaurants having been seeing a shift toward consumers who are looking for craft and local.