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Wine tourism development and marketing strategies in Southwest Michigan

Astrid Wargenau (Department of Geography, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA)
Deborah Che (Department of Geography, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA)

International Journal of Wine Marketing

ISSN: 0954-7541

Article publication date: 1 January 2006




This research investigated wine tourism development and marketing in southwest Michigan, a longtime viticultural, but emerging wine tourism region. The aims involved discovering the motivations, expectations, and successes of Southwest Michigan Wine Trail member wineries in developing horizontal and vertical alliances.


Semi‐structured, in‐depth interviews were conducted with individuals in charge of the wineries’ marketing activities (i.e. marketing directors and members of the marketing departments, winery owners). These interviews were recorded and transcribed. Activities fostered through the horizontal and vertical alliances were identified.


Alliances along the Southwest Michigan Wine Trail have furthered the development and marketing of wine tourism. The trail's member wineries have formed strong horizontal relationships, which include joint advertising, promotion, and production. They have also built vertical relationships with tour operators, lodging businesses, and restaurants that promote individual wineries as well as the wine region. Wine tourism has provided wineries with another sales outlet and established the wine region as a destination.


This study contributed to the limited literature on the development and marketing of wine tourism in Michigan and in other emerging wine regions in the United States. For those working to further such rural/agri‐tourism, this research indicated that there is considerable growth potential through an increased presence in restaurants and in packaging with accommodations. Adding new specialized wine tours, wine festivals,geographical target markets, and a focus on wine education on‐site and at educational institutions can expand wine tourism and sales.



Wargenau, A. and Che, D. (2006), "Wine tourism development and marketing strategies in Southwest Michigan", International Journal of Wine Marketing, Vol. 18 No. 1, pp. 45-60.



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