Cheers: Is a Winery Slated for Belle Isle?
There's innovative ideas popping up in Detroit. But the city officials don't seem to always embrace them. But the state might.
There's been some talk about having a wine vineyard on Belle Isle.
Gov. Rick Snyder gave the proposal a mild boost at the 2012 Mackinac Policy Conference when he mentioned in a keynote speech that the idea had crossed his desk. The governor seemed intrigued by the idea, which means something as the state prepares to take control of the 982-acre park under the consent agreement signed with the city of Detroit.
The idea of a winery was planted last year by Blake Kownacki and John Burtka, partners in the company Detroit City Cellars. It got backing from Detroit's business community, but failed to get off the ground with city and Belle Isle officials. Opponents' concerns included the grapes being an invasive species, the vineyard jeopardizing the island's historical status and the operation not fitting with the park's recreational use.
State intervention on Belle Isle could revive plans for the 10-acre vineyard near the island's lighthouse. Kownacki recently took MLive on a tour of the prairie where he hopes to plant rows of grapes that would become the first urban winery in the United States.