'The rieslings are among the best'

The rieslings are among

Early Spanish settlers began producing wine in California and the American southwest in the 17th century, and today California, Washington, New York and Oregon account for more than 90 per cent of American wine production. With a national annual output of around 1.5bn litres, it is the fourth-largest wine-producing country in the world, behind Italy, France and Spain. Michigan's annual production of around five million bottles accounts for just 0.3 per cent of that total, but despite the state wine industry's relatively short history it has a fruit-growing background stretching to the mid-1800s. Andy McFarlane, spokesman for the Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association, explained: "The technology [used] to grow apples and cherries is being applied somewhat to growing vines. Our climate's closer to Germany's. Our strength is the cool-climate wines - the rieslings, the pinots gris, and our great varietal is the cabernet franc. "The acreage [of vineyards] doesn't hold a candle to California. But the fruit we are producing is excellent. The rieslings are considered among the best in the country and potentially the world. We are getting a lot of national and international attention for them. "When you are dealing with red wines, you're looking for the older vines, so we are at a bit of a disadvantage, but every year we are getting better. "The fruit wines, even though some of the winemakers look down on them, are [good]. Our fruit is among the best in the world - the cherries, the apples, the berries, the peaches. "Michigan is the second largest fruit-producing state in the USA after California. We're becoming unmatched for the blends with wine and fruit." Though a minnow in US terms, Michigan's wine industry has enjoyed a decade of double-digit growth, and it produces around 2.5 times the annual output of the UK's 416 vineyards.