Wine Grape Researchers Gather in Traverse City


LANSING, Oct. 20, 2010 — Twenty-five of the country’s leading viticulturists will gather in Traverse City November 10-11 to review their progress on a multi-state collaborative known as the NE-1020 project. The objective of the project is to evaluate wine grape varieties and varietal clones for their prospective use in Eastern states. The group will be hosted by Michigan State University’s Dr. Paolo Sabbatini, the chair of this group and the MSU faculty member that represents Michigan on the project.

“With the skyrocketing increase in the reputation of Michigan as a wine grape growing region, the scientists are eager to see firsthand how our industry is developing and how the MSU viticulture team is contributing to its growth,” says Dr. Sabbatini.

Two experimental vineyards, each with 35 varieties, were planted in Michigan in 2008 in two of the four appellations of the state. The Southwest Michigan Research and Extension Center in Benton Harbor is within the Lake Michigan Shore appellation; and the Northwest Michigan Horticulture Research Station is in the Leelanau Peninsula appellation. The data collected from these plantings are included in the multi-state initiative.

The NE-1020 event includes research discussion and tours of vineyards on Old Mission and Leelanau peninsulas. Additionally, the group will visit the Northwest station. “We are delighted to be able to show off our cultivar planting here at the station. It is important for our collaborators to have the chance to get out into the vineyard and see some of the opportunities and challenges we have here in Michigan vineyards,” notes Dr. Nikki Rothwell, station director. The Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council will sponsor a welcome dinner for the visiting scientists, featuring local wines.

A workshop for members of the Michigan wine grape industry to hear about the latest achievements in viticulture research and vineyard management practices will be held at the Northwest station on Nov. 12, and several world-renowned speakers from the NE-1020 project will be participating. Details are available at under Wine Industry Events, or by contacting Dr. Paolo Sabbatini, 517-355-5192 ext. 1302,, or Paul Jenkins, 517-648-5099.

The Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council is an 11-member panel that supports the growth of the grape and wine industry in Michigan. It is housed in the Michigan Department of Agriculture, which is the official state agency charged with serving, promoting and protecting the food, agriculture and agricultural economic interests of the people of the state of Michigan.