Visiting Northern Michigan wine country is equal parts eco-tourism and immersion into Northern Michigan’s food and drink scene. While it’s certainly enjoyable to simply sip on a locally made wine at an area restaurant, a deeper appreciation for what goes down the hatch is easily gained with a visit to a winery. To help you plan a trip, here’s your guide to Northern Michigan wine tours.
Many Northern Michigan’s wineries are divided into three geographic areas: Leelanau Peninsula, Old Mission Peninsula, and Petoskey and Harbor Springs. Each location offers incredible vino and equally tasty views of Caribbean blue lakes, stunning vistas, thick forests, sandy dunes.
The wineries on the Leelanau Peninsula (located northwest of Traverse City) are organized as the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail. The trail’s 26 wineries are divided into three easily traversable loops: the Sleeping Bear Loop, the Grand Traverse Bay Loop and the Northern Loop. Get a taste of the wineries here, and click here for a detailed map of Leelanau Peninsula. More about Leelanau Peninsula wine tasting:
- Where To Eat After Leelanau Peninsula Wine Tasting
- The Unique and Picturesque Towns in Leelanau County
- Download the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail’s iPhone App
- Find Events on the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail at MyNorthTickets.com
Nine wineries comprise the Wineries of Old Mission (WOMP), all of them are located north of Traverse City on the thin, water-surrounded strip of land called the Old Mission Peninsula. Located within 5 miles of one another, and offering a diverse range of tasting rooms (from Chateau Chantal’s traditional decor to 2Lads’ stainless-steel, urban vibe), the wineries on Old Mission Peninsula offer a beautiful and relaxing wine escape from the bustle of downtown Traverse City (where you’ll also find several tasting rooms—see below). A 10th winery, Bonobo Winery owned by television personality Carter Oosterhouse and actor Amy Smart, is also located on the peninsula though it’s not a part of WOMP. More about Old Mission wine tasting and touring:
- Wineries in Traverse City and Old Mission Peninsula
- Take an Old Mission Tour, Including Northern Michigan Wineries
- Make It A Traverse City Day Trip: Old Mission Lighthouse and Beach
- Map of Old Mission Peninsula Wineries via WOMP
- WOMP’s Group and Bus Policies, with Recommended Tour Companies
- Find WOMP Events at MyNorthTickets.com
Near Petoskey and Harbor Springs, a handful of relatively new wineries have coalesced to form the Bay View Wine Trail. Offering a variety of strong whites, select reds and a spectrum of fruits wines these Northern Michigan wineries are well worth the visit. Find info about these wineries, and what to do in and around the two charming Northern Michigan towns:
- Wineries in Petoskey and Harbor Springs
- Plan Your Trip at the Bay View Wine Trail’s Home Page
- Paddling and Boating in Petoskey and Harbor Springs
- Petoskey Shopping
- Find Bay View Wine Trail Events
Self-Guided vs. Tour Company
The beauty of being behind the wheel during Northern Michigan wine tours is you control the pace and destinations during your oeno-odyssey. The downside is that somebody needs to drive, which consequently means somebody has to abstain from the tasting … sort of. Spitting is a nice—albeit borderline awkward—answer to the designated driver problem. The alcohol within the wine doesn’t get to your bloodstream, but the wine still gets to your palate. In any case, do not drive while intoxicated and call a taxi if needed.
Luckily, there are many companies that provide touring services through Northern Michigan vineyards, and having an informed guide at the helm offers two distinct advantages. First, it allows all tourers to taste to their hearts’ content. And second, these guys are wine experts: guides can arrange tasting room visits for larger parties (most wineries prefer a heads up if groups of eight or more are visiting), recommend wineries based on preferred wine styles, and they won’t pass the driveway to the destination winery for the second time (or first, for that matter).
The answer to the self-guided or tour company dilemma comes down to the size of the party, familiarity with the area and anticipated time spent touring. If you’re a foursome that wants to visit one or two wineries, then you can probably fly solo. If you’re a group of 10 or—Heaven forbid!—a bachelorette party that wants to make a day of it, a tour is your best bet.
Find tour options (some traditional, some more adventurous) with the following links:
- Sample in Style with Grand Traverse Tours
- GT Wine Tours
- Champagne Shuttle & Tours
- Traverse Bay Tours
- Traverse City Wine and Beer Tours
- A Grand Tour
- A Paradise Shuttle and Tours
- Old Mission Tours