Lounge on the shores of Grand Traverse Bay with a glass of wine at the new French Valley Vineyard Tasting Room in Suttons Bay. The Leelanau County winery offers beautiful views of Lake Michigan and has a sandy beach out back. Boaters can even dock and enjoy a tasting before heading back out on the water.

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The French Valley Tasting Room opened on May 6, but French Valley Vineyard owners Pam and Stephen Kozelko have been growing grapes for 13 years. The couple works with winemaker Charlie Edson of Bel Lago to produce and sell wine using only what they’re able to grow so the wine is always made with 100 percent Leelanau County grapes.

In addition to 14 wines, the tasting room has two rotating hard ciders from Tandem Ciders. Here are a few wine recommendations from tasting room staff:

  • 2011 Chardonnay | notes of green apple, pear, citrus and very light oak
  • Jezebelle | bright and refreshing with deep tropical fruit notes
  • 2009 Jubilee (Gold Medal) | blend of merlot and cherries aged in oak
  • 2012 Cabernet Franc/ Merlot | hints of cherry, tobacco and leather

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The tasting room menu is also based around local products including Northern Michigan food items from Leelanau Cheese, Carlson’s Fishery, The Underground Cheesecake Company and Grocer Daughter’s Chocolate. This summer, visitors can also look forward to the pizza oven firing up fresh pies at events.

“It’s important to us to serve food made at local businesses,” says tasting room manager Nancy Crutchfield. “And luckily enough there are lots of amazing places to support.”

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The patio, outdoor bar and tasting room all offer stunning views of Lake Michigan making French Valley a destination for a romantic dinner for two, family dinner parties, rehearsal dinners and wedding receptions.

The tasting room is conveniently located at The Vineyard Inn, also owned by the Kozelkos, offering on-site lodging at a charming lakeside inn. Guests staying for the weekend can enjoy a bottle of wine on the lawn and walk 20 feet back up to their rooms.

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The French Valley Vineyard Tasting Room is located at 1338 N. Pebble Beach Dr. in Suttons Bay. For more information, call 231.866.1010.

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Photo(s) by Kathryn Davis