The annual Michigan Wine Competition has been canceled for 2020.
An announcement from the Michigan Wine Collaborative, which has assumed responsibility for the event previously managed by the former Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council, cites “the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19” as the reason.
“All the concerns surrounding the competition were about the safety of our judges, volunteers and anyone else involved in the event,” says Michigan Wine Collaborative President David Miller.
The event usually includes a judging and awards component, followed up by a reception at Michigan State University’s Kellogg Center where the public could buy tickets to taste the award-winning wines and enjoy small bites of food prepared by Kellogg culinary staff.
Miller says that judges normally travel from all over the country to participate. Also, he adds that it’s too soon to know what MSU’s policy will be regarding such gatherings into the fall.
The Collaborative also didn’t want to open the competition and begin accepting entries from wineries only to find later that the event couldn’t be pulled off and be in the position of having to return the wine entries.
“We tried to think of ways we could make it work,” Miller says. “We agreed on having all local judges who could drive.
“But there were too many unknowns, and we could not go forward.”
Instead, the Collaborative will begin planning for 2021, and changing up the format could be part of that process.
“We look forward to working with MSU,” he says. “We are just thinking outside the box on ways to hold the event to, one, get it done even with COVID and two, engage more people around the state to generate more buzz about Michigan wines.”
That could mean holding some regional events rather than one that is centralized, he adds, noting, “We’re getting started now because next summer will be here before we know it.”