Few things in life are as romantic, fantastic and fun as cracking open a bottle of bubbly. But you need not host a lifted-pinky affair or break the bank to indulge. And, blessedly, you need not travel far to find the good stuff. Nearly a dozen wineries across Northern Michigan’s Leelanau and Old Mission Peninsulas offer expertly crafted sparklers, and September’s rich, still-warm nights are more than worthy of the fizzy ahh of uncorking a dewy bottle.
Here’s your quick guide to the wineries that offer bubbly and our picks for lodging and dining. Spend the day wine touring to your heart’s content, then put your wine on ice while savoring a sunset hike, a tandem bike ride and a romantic night at the movies. When night falls, find a spot that’s right, pop open your day’s find, and raise a glass to a day well-spent. Lifted pinkies, of course, are optional.
Stay: Korner Kottage Bed & Breakfast
This 1920’s Craftsman-style home-turned-B&B is a mellow retreat snuggled in the heart of Suttons Bay. Lovely details like skylights, stained glass, a screened porch, ever-present plates of cookies, and linens pressed on a 1950’s Iron-Rite (in keeping with the B&B’s vintage charm) lend to the cozy vibe. Seasonal produce stars in the breakfasts innkeepers Linda and Jim Munro prepare each morning: think proscuitto, sun-dried tomato and fresh mozzarella strata and Linda’s oft-requested cherry-chocolate muffins. Four rooms, from $148 through September; call for off-season rates. 503 N. St. Joseph Ave., Suttons Bay. 888-552-2632, kornerkottage.com.
An intimate but family-friendly downtown oasis specializing in from-scratch Italian cooking. Sam’s Mom’s Carbonara, veal piccata or salmon Saltimbocca would pair perfectly with the Black Star Farms–bottled sparkling wine called M-22, named for the famous scenic byway that transports you north up the Leelanau Peninsula. Gusto has a kids menu so you can easily include the younger set in your celebration. 111 St. Joseph Ave., Suttons Bay, 231-271-6222, GustoM22.com
Sparkling day: Spin along the Leelanau Trail
Saddle up with your sweetie on a tandem bike and take a slow cruise along the Leelanau Trail, a 15-mile former railway corridor through easy-rolling Leelanau countryside. Find tandems (as well as singles, kids bikes and trailers) for rent at Body Balance of Suttons Bay (231-271-2210; $10 for two hours, $20 per day), just a short shot from the trailhead on Fourth Street. Pedal through orchards, vineyards, fields and wetlands, over bridges, under leafy canopies, and past backyard gardens of sunflowers, squash and the last of summer’s trellising pole beans. Ride back into town for a sundae at The Ice Cream Factory (231-271-4464), then stroll the grassy bayfront expanse at Marina Park. 231-941-4300, traversetrails.org.