Monroe: Birthplace of Michigan's Wine Industry Joseph M. Sterling - early Monroe pioneer and the father of Michigan's wine industry - planted the first vineyard in the Monroe region in 1863. He was also the first to produce commercial wine in Michigan under the Pointe Aux Peaux Wine Company of Monroe in 1868. Likely drawn to the region by the wild grapes that cascaded into the River Raisin, Sterling and his partners grew their enterprise to process 69,000 pounds of grapes by 1871 and produce 5,000 gallons of award winning and critically acclaimed wine. By 1884, Monroe was in the midst of a golden age of winemaking. More than 20 vineyards on nearly 200 acres of land grew 600,000 pounds of grapes and churned out over 12,000 gallons of wine - some vintages considered to be on par with the fine wines of France. At its peak, over 1,000 acres of grapevines were cultivated in Monroe. Sadly, the eventual deaths of Monroe's early wine pioneers, grape rot and the subsequent onset of Prohibition prematurely ended our region's renowned reputation for fine wine and thriving vineyards.(2009-2010 Michigan Wine Industry Research, State of Michigan, Department of Agriculture) The Bacchus Society aims to restore this near forgotten heritage once again to prominence in our community.Whatta great goal. Michigan makes some pretty good wine. It pales to what I drank in Italy, but it certainly holds its own against California vintages. I'm curious to see what the pedestrian community in Monroe re-invents.