W W W. C R A F T BY U M H . C O M erals. “All of these factors are found here in Michigan, where we are close to the Great Lakes,” Lester said. He explained, “We have these hills that tend to run up and down the shoreline, [which are] comprised of mineral rich clays and stones, which give the vines lots of nutrients. Our latitude is the 42nd parallel, so that’s the same latitude as the border of Oregon and California, and the same latitude as Rome, Italy. We’re further South than the entire country of France here.” “The growing [period] that we have from spring to the time of harvest, is almost identical to what you find in Bordeaux and Burgundy in France,” Lester said. “We have some challenges, but thousands of years of human experience show that the vine tends to make the best wine when it has to struggle a little bit.” Lester believes the cooler climates like the Midwest and Northeast create fresh fruit in the aroma and flavor, whereas similar plants grown and matured in a very hot climate might express their fruit with raisiny or pruney notes. Where Frost applauds fresh and innova- tive approaches to grape selection without the need to replicate tradi- tional styles, Lester believes, “Nature does it best. There are grapes you just can’t improve on. We should find places to grow those grapes where they feel at home, [and] make great wine out of them. That’s been the worldwide search in the New World for the last twenty years.” In addition to grape selection, there is also the distinction of wheth- er or not the winemaker is growing their own grapes, making “es- tate-grown” wine. It’s an economic reality that many wineries are buying fruit and juice from somewhere else and turning it into wine, which begs the question, “How important is whether the wine is es- tate-grown?” Frost weighed in, “While focusing on just one part of the process, rather than adding the prospect of farming to the effort can be an advantage; if you want to understand how to make the best wine, you’re going to have to work with the same fruit over and over again.” PHOTO CREDIT: Richland Rum Germination Bed PHOTO CREDIT: Blacklands Malt Lester added, “The best thing about being a grower, is the control ele- ment. Maybe it’s an illusion, but I like to think I have more control over grapes on my property, grapes that I see every day. I’m going to do the best I can, because they’re my grapes. I’m not going to over crop them, I’m going to take care of them better.” According to Lester, “A grower, who is simply selling their fruit...is do- ing everything they can do to maximize tonnage. The problem with that, is that high tonnage yields don’t make the best wine. A winemaker who is just a winemaker, is more likely to get fruit that was over cropped, than a winemaker who is growing their own grapes. That’s why all the best wines in the world come from estate grown fruit.” PHOTO CREDIT: Richland Rum Sprouted Grain © Hundred-to-One LLC 2018. All rights reserved.