Jerry Perrone is passionate about wine. And, when it comes to wine produced from genetically adjusted, hybridized American varietal grapes, that passion reaches new heights. It’s an industry he’s promoting from his winery in Harbor Springs, tucked away in a small corner of Michigan’s northern lower peninsula.
According to Perrone, his winery, PleasantView Winery and Vineyards, is one of hundreds of U.S. wineries north of the 45th parallel producing wine from an American varietal grape. “We’re successful because we use grapes that have been genetically adjusted to grow well in our colder climate.”
Perrone credits Michigan State University, the University of Minnesota and New York’s Cornell University for their work in developing wine grape varieties that are disease resistant and broadly adapted to cold winter climates. The result, he says, is the production of high-quality wines.
“Michigan has a tremendous amount of potential for American varietal wine production,” says Perrone. “This is only the tip of the sphere when it comes to Michigan wines.”
The Straits Area Grape Growers Association, Perrone says, “is working hard to increase the total production of American varietal grapes to 2,700 acres within the decade.” And schools, such as North Central Michigan College in Petoskey, are introducing viticulture programs that will lead students to a degree in this fast-growing industry.