Many Northern Michigan’s wineries are divided into three geographic areas: Leelanau Peninsula, Old Mission Peninsula and the Petoskey Wine Region, which includes surrounding towns such as Harbor Springs and Charlevoix. Each location has its own distinct wine trail, set beside a backdrop of cerulean lakes, rolling vineyards, thick forests and sandy dunes. To help plan your trip, here’s a guide to Northern Michigan wine tours.
The wineries on the Leelanau Peninsula (located northwest of Traverse City) are organized as the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail. The trail’s 25 wineries are divided into three easily traversable loops: the Sleeping Bear Loop, the Grand Traverse Bay Loop and the Northern Loop. Click to read more about each of the Leelanau wineries. Note, there are several wineries that aren’t a part of the wine trail, but you’ll want to visit.
Fun Stops on a Leelanau Wine Tour
- Where To Get Breakfast
- Explore Historic Fishtown
- Wine Tasting by Bike with Grand Traverse Tours
- Find Wine Events at MyNorthTickets.com
Ten wineries comprise the Old Mission Peninsula Wine Trail, all tucked north of Traverse City on the thin, water-surrounded strip of land called Old Mission Peninsula. Located within 5 miles of one another, the wineries’ tasting rooms have a variety of atmospheres, from Chateau Chantal’s relaxed, European-inspired interior to 2 Lads’ stainless-steel, urban vibe. An 11th 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 the trail.
More about Old Mission:
- 5 Must-Do Stops on Old Mission Peninsula
- A List of Wineries in Traverse City and Old Mission Peninsula
- Visit Vineyards, a General Store and Historic Inns on an Old Mission Color Tour
Near Petoskey and Harbor Springs, 14 relatively new wineries have coalesced to form the Petoskey Wine Region. Offering a variety of strong whites, select reds and a spectrum of fruits wines, these Northern Michigan wineries are well worth the visit.
Self-Guided Wine Tour 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 having to abstain from wine tasting. 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 so you can find one you like and take a bottle home for later. In any case, do not drive while intoxicated and call a taxi if needed.
There are many companies that provide touring services, 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 and gals 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) and can recommend wineries based on preferred wine styles.
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 eight or more, or 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: