“If you haven’t had it lately, you should try to taste Michigan.”
So say Brian Lillie, vice president of the Michigan Wine Collaborative, and, now, other industry reps from around the state.
Taste Michigan, the federally funded umbrella brand for the Michigan wine industry, has officially soft-launched after roughly a year of research and planning. The goal of the brand is to educate consumers about Michigan wine and, ultimately, sustain and boost the state’s grape sales.
“This is … the work that we’ve been putting in over the past year finally coming to fruition,” Lillie says. “It’s a brand that was created with the input of a wide selection of [people from] Michigan’s wine industry — growers, vineyard owners, winemakers, and other people close to the industry.”
Taste Michigan is an opportunity for these people to share their collective story, Lillie says.
“We’ve got a great story to tell, and that’s what people don’t really know,” he says. “It’s about the size of the industry, the scope and quality of our wine, and now it’s time for us and over 150 wineries in the state of Michigan … to tell the story.”
To help do that, the Collaborative, which has been working with Royal Oak–based advertising agency Factory Detroit Inc. on Taste Michigan, has released the tastemichigan.org website as part of this initial launch. There, consumers can learn about Michigan’s unique terrain and why cool-climate grapes thrive here, the various wineries in the state (and why most of them make rosé and/or sparkling wine), and more.
Taste Michigan will also be making a splash on social media with the hashtag #tastemichigan.
A major takeaway from the brand’s messaging is the diversity of grapes grown — and grown well — in Michigan.
“You often hear a single variety associated with wine regions,” Lillie says, noting the connection between Pinot Noir and Oregon, and Cabernet Sauvignon and Napa Valley. “I think the biggest strength that Michigan has to offer is how diverse our soil structure is based on glacial deposits several centuries ago and the ability to really ripen a diverse selection of grapes. …
“We’re trying to highlight the beauty of our cool climate, creating things from vinifera — whether it’s Rieslings or Chardonnays or Pinot Gris — and then bringing other lesser-known varieties in that are cold-hardy and disease resistant, like your Chambourcin or Frontenac or Marquette. … That’s an example of the diversity that we’re bringing to the table.”
This soft launch is just the beginning for Taste Michigan. The brand’s main campaign will be released in April 2023, just in time for Michigan Wine Month in May.
“We are very excited about [it],” Lillie says. “We’re hoping to be a little bit disruptive with it.”