Savor Leelanau’s Wine Country

It’s adults only on this tour of Leelanau’s wine country, where complex flavors and superb views are tailored to sophisticated tastes. Top it off with a stroll in downtown Suttons Bay, filled with specialty shops and many amazing eateries.

Start with a pleasant coast along the lovely, laid-back M-22. From Traverse City, point your designated driver northward, then, about 10 minutes up the highway, turn left onto Shady Lane Road a mile farther you’ll find Shady Lane Cellars (9580 Shady Ln.,

Here, you can sip several wines, gratis, in an elegant tasting room housed in a 100-year-old fieldstone outbuilding. Then, for classy bubbly with intriguing names like "Sex" and "Fizz," backtrack east on Shady Lane Road, and then turn left onto Elm Valley Road – the fun is just ahead at Leelanau’s center for sparkling wines, L. Mawby Vineyards (4519 S. Elm Valley Rd., Try the complimentary samples or sit on the patio and enjoy a tasting flight of two or three wines while snacking on gourmet cheese or whitefish pâté.

A more subdued but equally delish experience awaits just a few miles north on M-22 at Chateau de Leelanau (5048 S. West Bayshore Dr., Sip award-winning wines and snap up some decadent truffles in the gift shop, then head west up Hill Top Road for vivacious wines and sprawling scenery at Ciccone Vineyards & Winery (10343 E. Hilltop Rd.,

Your last vineyard stop on this tour is a short drive east on Hill Top Road at Willow Vineyard (10702 E. Hilltop Rd., 231-271-4810), where the wine’s only rival is the positively stunning view of West Bay.

And that’s just a taste; find more Leelanau wineries at

Emily Bingham is assistant editor of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine.[email protected]

Note: This article was first published in May 2006, and was updated for the web February 2008.

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