In 2016, Dave and Jess Youngblood traded in their fields of soybeans, corn and Christmas trees and planted wine grapes on their 46 acre family farm. Youngblood Vineyard is home to nearly 22,000 cold-hardy wine grape varieties of which there are 3 white and 3 red. Currently growing are Marquette, Itasca, Frontenac, Frontenac Blanc, Prairie Star, and Petite Pearl. They look forward to this new adventure and sharing the experience with friends, family, and the community as they continue to expand their vineyard.
Dave and Jess Youngblood have spent nearly two decades living in some of the most beautiful wine country in the United States including Washington, California and Virginia. In 2015, they returned to their family farm in Ray, MI with aspirations to plant a vineyard. Since 1945, the farm has been home to five generations of farmers in Dave's family so putting down "roots" on the old homestead has always been the couple's dream. The vineyard is now home to 25-acres of wine grapes that's over 26 miles of grape vines!
Transforming a Farm into a Vineyard
Growing grapes in Metro Detroit would seem nearly impossible to most people. But for Dave and Jess, it was a life long dream come true. After many years of research and careful planning, the couple thoughtfully selected the perfect grape varieties known best to thrive in Michigan's cold climate and heavy soil.
Over 10 acres of overgrown Christmas trees, which were planted by Dave's grandpa back in the 50's, were cleared and the rest of the farm land graded for planting. Dave and Jess also installed a 1-mile fence around the farm to protect the young vineyard from deer and other critters. It also does a great job corralling the couple's three children and puppies!
Documenting the vineyard's transformation and progress is one of Jess' hobbies along with promoting the Michigan Wine Industry and practicing sustainable farming methods.
Growing up on a Vineyard
The Youngblood's have three children; Georgia, Gracie and Wyatt. When they're not busy with school and homework, the kids are working in the vineyard right along side of their parents. There is an unlimited amount of chores for this family of five, and the kids can do just about everything their parents can. They have become quick experts on planting, trellis construction, mowing, pruning, testing the sugar and acid of ripening fruit, harvesting grapes and eagerly observing their parents in the wine making process.