Copemish, MI — Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) announced nine projects awarded funds under the competitive Value Added and Regional Food System Grant Program. The department received 62 proposals with requests totaling more than $6.6 million. Of those, MDARD awarded more than $1 million with matching funds to Michigan-based agriculture producers.
Campbell Milarch Vines LLC (CMV LLC) “Is being awarded $140,400 in grant funding to bring to market Michigan’s first locally-grown vinifera (grape vines). These funds are being matched by $54,600 from CMV LLC. The monies will be utilized to hire a sales and marketing person, to develop a website, to hire production laborers (4), to acquire new equipment and materials and, to cover advertising and administration expenses for its trademarked Truly Michigan Vines (#TrulyMiVines).
To date, all vines being planted in Michigan are sourced from outstate suppliers. CMV LLC provides an alternative to outstate sourced vinifera. Michigan s grape industry will have a safe, local option that will provide living vines that are able to be planted late into season. CMV will create at least 5 new agriculture-based jobs, will aspire to reach $210,000 in sales by 2020 and, will provide vinifera and custom grafted vines for Michigan growers. Truly Michigan Vines are being sourced and grown from Michigan-grown rootstock and scion (fruiting arm of the vine) for planting in Michigan soils, in Michigan climate. CMV’s living vines are a distinct advantage over outstate dormant-vines and will allow growers to produce fruit up to one year earlier than outstate vines.
This project is important and timely for Michigan growers after two years (2014-2015) of devastating winter conditions that left them without fruit to harvest and with dead vines causing growers/wineries to order fruit/juice from outside of Michigan to meet the increased demand for Michigan wines. CMV vines did survive those harsh winters better over other vines (outstate sourced) in the very same vineyard. These vines are ideal for growers wishing to establish a new vineyard or to replace vines that did not survive winter conditions.
CMV LLC is innovative in its approach in that the company is utilizing low-lying areas of the vineyard to grow rootstock only. These areas are not fit to grow fruiting vines. Additionally, CMV LLC sources scion (the fruiting part of the vine) from clippings that are normally composted. The project utilizes both unfavorable land & scrap materials to produce viable, local vines for planting that will produce fruit a year ahead of outstate vines. Outstate vines require a full year to acclimatize to the soil and weather before they set roots and prepare to produce fruit. This project impacts the industry by providing a quicker ROI for growers and wineries, and to general public by providing a Michigan-sourced vine allowing public to gain a new appreciation for the wines they enjoy being sourced completely from Michigan.
“You never know who you will meet on a flight. It was amazing to realize that my expertise in propagation could match Mr. Campbell’s need for healthy vines, improved customer service and access to vines grown right here in MI. After five long years of research and development we are ready to plant vines statewide,” says Jake Milarch, Partner Campbell Milarch Vines LLC and Director at Archangel Ancient Tree Archive.
Additionally, through collaboration with NMC and MSU, the project provides hands-on learning opportunities to students in the IAT program and, will allow growers and wine related businesses to achieve increased planting as identified by Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council’s strategic goal. CMV LLC received a USDA VAPG grant ($19,200 matched by $19,200 from CMV LLC) in 2015 for planning activities (business plan development, marketing plan development and a complete feasibility study through MSU Product Center) that will allow them to apply for the USDA VAPG Working Capital Grant in 2017. Future plans include consolidation of operations to the vineyard site which will provide educational and tour opportunities for students, growers and the general public.
“The project evolved from the need for healthy vines and a wish to utilize viable genetic material that was being composted. We are thrilled to get grant support to move our innovative solution to market,” says Kerm Campbell, Partner Campbell Milarch Vines LLC and owner of Winery at Black Star Farms.