Verterra Winery, known for its award-winning Northern Michigan wines and bustling tasting room in downtown Leland, has a new event center and wedding venue tucked into its vineyards in Northport.

Nestled between grape vines with views overlooking both Lake Michigan and West Grand Traverse Bay, the new event venue is perched on the highest northern ridge on the Leelanau Peninsula. Fittingly, it’s called The Ridge at Verterra. Guests can see Old Mission Peninsula, Gull Island and Northport Cove. And, on nice days, the view extends all the way to Charlevoix and beyond to Little Traverse Bay. “There is no place on this peninsula where you have views of Lake Michigan and Grand Traverse Bay,” says owner Paul Hamelin, who purchased the property in 2008.

The venue also stands out because of its size. The Ridge at Verterra can host up to 300 people, making it an option for intimate and large parties. “Particularly up here in Northern Michigan, the majority of wineries do not have weddings or private events at their facilities, and those that do tend to be for fairly small groups of 50 to 75 people, maybe 125,” Paul says. “We knew due to the level of interest in weddings at The Homestead, which tend to be large, and those at Grand Traverse Resort, there was a big gap here for the size of 175 to 300 people.”

Verterra Winery

The Ridge has a bridal lounge and a catering area on site. The tasting room upstairs will open in 2017.

The wedding package includes tent rental, tables and chairs from American Tent Company, full use of the grounds, a bridal lounge, indoor bathrooms and use of an indoor catering room and outdoor grilling area. Guests can take a glass of Verterra wine or cider out into the vines and explore the vineyard.

The versatile site can accommodate three tent sizes: 40×60, 40×80 and 40×120. The smaller tents leave room for an outdoor patio with seating. In-ground power under the patio makes it easy to plug in lights and music without running cords across the ground.

“We’ll get the structure—meaning the tent, seating, tables, vineyard and facility ready—and the fun things about a wedding like decorations are the bride and groom’s choice,” Paul says.

The Ridge offers a list of wedding vendors for couples to work with if they’re unfamiliar with the area, or they can choose their own. “We have already found that 70 to 80 percent of the weddings that occur here in Northern Michigan are people from downstate or out of state, and many times they don’t know caterers, florists, hair stylists, etc.,” Paul says. “We can provide recommendations if needed.”

The outdoor ceremony site in front of a small pond and trickling waterfall takes advantage of the stunning scenery. A stone sitting wall can comfortably seat 125 people, and there’s room on the lawn for additional chairs. If the weather changes, the ceremony can easily be moved under the tent, which is also protected with windowed tent walls.

The first wedding was held at The Ridge September 17, but the 2017 wedding season is already about two-thirds booked, Paul says. “We already have people exploring for 2018.”

Verterra Winery

The bridal lounge provides an elegant, private space for the bride to get ready.

Next year, the event center will also offer private wine tastings to small groups by reservation. Paul plans to have picnic tables so people can pack a lunch and enjoy a bottle of wine with the incredible views.

“In the next few years, we’re going to see a bit of transformation in the Northern Michigan wine region,” Paul says. “People are more interested in getting out into the vineyards, understanding the plants and seeing the manufacturing facilities. They want to have a deeper experience and understanding of the wine world and the magic that comes from the land through the grapes into the bottle. That requires people to spend more time on site rather than bouncing from site to site. We want to build on that trend and give people that experience here.”

For more information or to schedule a showing, email

The Ridge at Verterra Winery is located at 8080 N. Swede Rd.

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Photo(s) by Carly Simpson