Local winery produces 'ice wine' throughout cold, Michigan winters

NOW: Local winery produces ’ice wine’ throughout cold, Michigan winters

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. -- “It was a passion my whole life, I grew up on a grape farm and got the bug and here I am 15 years later,” says Glen Greiffendorf, Winemaker and Production Manager at 12 Corners Vineyard.  

Glen Greiffendorf sure does know wine! He has been a winemaker for 15 years, 10 of which have been at 12 Corners Vineyard. The Benton Harbor winery grows and processes their own wine all from their backyard.

“So, we grow our wine at 12 Corners, so we grow it in the spring, spray them, trim them make sure they are solid grapes to use those to make into wine then the fall we shift outside to inside. This time this year the winemaking is inside.”

Nestled near the heart of Michigan’s famed ‘gold coast’ lies the 115 – acre estate planted with grapes. Greiffendorf and his team grow these grapes throughout the summer, then pick them in the fall.

From there, his work is inside. The grapes go through several fermenting stages, until reaching the perfect level of ‘sweet’ and ‘dry’ that wine lovers crave! But even during the chilly months, 12 Corners finds a way to go outside. 

“There are specific flavors from Michigan that you cannot get in warm climates.”

Introducing…ice wine! A special twist in the colder climates you can only find in the northern states. Each winter, 12 Corners harvests frozen grapes to process into a sweet, luxury ‘ice wine.’

“It is a dessert wine, it is very sweet, you do not drink a lot of it, it comes in half sizes, it is a novelty and more of a gift or Christmas season drink. You have to be in the Northern states for sure. It is typically made in Michigan, New York, Ontario, and out west in Canada and British Columbia.”

And Michigan really is one of the only places you can check out this sweet treat! Curious to try it for yourself? 12 Corners still opens their doors year-round! Visitors can come to the winery to enjoy their tasting rooms and award-winning samplings, for themselves.

“Well, the benefits are obviously the local economy, and it’s obviously you do not have to go all of the way to Italy for your wine, but local wines typically reflect the area. We make the wines we can make here so this is a specific wine from this region.”

Learn how to visit 12 Corners Vineyard here.  

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