A new tasting room is bringing lakeshore-grown grapes to the table in the form of wine.
Located in downtown Grand Haven in the Harborfront building, 12 Corners Vineyard’s new tasting room is one of three locations along West Michigan’s lakeshore, which also include South Haven and Benton Harbor.
Recognizing the uniqueness of the area’s productive fruit farms, property was purchased three years ago to begin the process of opening a new winery.
An annual statistics report for the state of Michigan showed grape production at 38,200 tons for 2012, with a farm level value of $17.9 million, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. With 2,650 acres in Michigan, the state is ranked fifth in the country for wine grape production.
According to the Michigan Grape & Wine Industry Council, “New wineries are starting up in Michigan every year, wine grape acreage continues to grow, sales of Michigan wine are increasing, and the reputation of Michigan as a world-class wine region is gaining more national and international attention.”
The 12 Corners vineyards and winery are located outside of Benton Harbor where three roads intersect, creating 12 corners. The 115-acre estate is planted with vinifera and hybrid grapes. After a year of planning, production on the winery facility began, as did planning for the South Haven tasting room. The South Haven facility opened in November 2012, while the Benton Harbor location opened in June 2013.
The Grand Haven location opened in late December 2013. Jeffrey Hovinga, manager of the tasting room, said the area is a great location for locals and tourists alike.
“One thing we really like now is that it is slowly becoming a year-round town as opposed to more summer season tourists,” said Hovinga.
He said South Haven was chosen for the amount of foot traffic, and the hope is the Grand Haven location will benefit from the town being a popular lakeshore attraction.
According to Hovinga, one grape vine will produce approximately two bottles of wine. On average, the cost for wine made from concord grapes ranges from $2 to $4 per bottle, while a dry red can cost up to $12 to $15 after a 13-month aging period in oak barrels.
The winery offers dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet, sweet, and fruit or dessert wines, including a wine made from frozen grapes.
“This is the first year we are going to try an ice wine,” said Hovinga. “They were harvested this past early winter when all the grapes froze, so that will be done later on this spring.”
When 12 Corners began, Hovinga said slightly more than 35 acres of grapes were planted, so the winery had to purchase additional grapes to make its wine. Although all of the grapes used were grown in Michigan, this will be 12 Corners’ “first estate grown through estate bottled” year.