The Napatization of Northern Michigan: Wineries in the Context of Regional Gentrification
The Traverse City region of Northwest Lower Michigan is an area experiencing rapid growth and development. Its economic and cultural identity is undergoing a transformation, with a tendency towards trends characteristic of high-status lifestyles. A significant part of this change is the increasing presence of the region’s relatively young wine industry, which has suddenly grown very large. Over 27 wineries have been started since the first grape vine was planted in the mid 1970s. The increasing influence of the wine industry has had a significant impact on the character of the region. The ties Northern Michigan residents have to the area are not unusual. In addition to gender and ethnicity, much of the process of finding one’s sense of place and identity in society is highly affect by where one resides. Class, and the opportunities and commodities it provides, is another method of self-expression. In fact, entire industries are constructed around creating desirable goods that people can use to create and maintain certain identities. The wine industry is noted for its ability to sell a product whose appeal is based on the identity people wish to attain by consuming it. This SIP addresses this idea in the context of Northern Michigan.