5 Lakes Energy is pleased to be playing a critical role to support the Michigan wine industry in the establishment of the Great Lakes Sustainable Wine Alliance. The Alliance is a collaboration among wineries and vineyards who agree to follow third party standards of sustainability practice and who strive to communicate these efforts to various audiences. The Alliance supports continued growth and prosperity in rural economies tied to the wine grape industry throughout Michigan by building resources, organizational capacity, and knowledge to help the wine grape industry grow in a responsible manner as stewards of the land, active participants in local communities, and drivers of regional economies.
In 2014, the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council, a program of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, secured USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant funding to complete a Feasibility Study for an industry-wide sustainability program. Under contract to the Council and in consultation with a steering committee, 5 Lakes Energy team members Cam Brown and Liesl Clark conducted much of the initial research on best practices of sustainability across other global wine regions. The 5 Lakes Energy team also surveyed the Michigan wine industry to establish attitudinal benchmarks about sustainability. Finally, 5 Lakes Energy facilitated energy audits for several wineries in Michigan. The project team’s final report, which was delivered to the Council in August of 2015, provided a roadmap for the development of a sustainability program for the Michigan wine industry.
In 2016, the Michigan Wine Collaborative, an industry-led association fostering collaboration to address opportunities and issues, began implementation of the sustainability program. Liesl Clark and Linda Jones from 5 Lakes Energy continue to serve as a resource to the Sustainability Committee of the Michigan Wine Collaborative that was established to guide the sustainability program’s continued development.
This year, 15 members of the Michigan Wine Collaborative officially formed the Great Lakes Sustainable Wine Alliance (GLSWA). They even have a new logo!
This core group of winery and vineyard businesses has already demonstrated their commitment to sustainability practices through Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program verification. The members of the GLSWA are currently working with partners including Michigan State University, Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and industry suppliers to continue the roll-out of the sustainability program to new members and plan future enhancements to establish a rigorous set of sustainability standards for winery and vineyard operations.
5 Lakes Energy is proud to play a continuing role in the evolution of the Great Lakes Sustainable Wine Alliance, and in improving the sustainability of Michigan’s great wineries and vineyards. Maybe we’ll meet up with you at a tasting to learn and enjoy the wines of Michigan! To plan your next Michigan wine tour, visit www.michiganwines.com.