“What’s better than being on the beach tasting great local wine in a beautiful setting?”

From her perspective as Director of Communications and Public Affairs at Black Star Farms, Sherri Campbell Fenton is obviously is a bit biased, but that doesn’t mean she’s wrong. On the contrary, with some 50 wines to choose from, along with cider and beer, a nice afternoon at the beach can become a great evening as well. The 2018 Leelanau Peninsula Wine on the Water Festival will take place at Marina Park in Suttons Bay on Saturday, July 21. From 1–7 p.m., attendees can indulge in some of the best wines the area has to offer. They’ll also enjoy music from three different artists: Soul Patch, Levi Britton and Olivia Millerschin.

Lorri Hathaway, executive director of the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail, says the event annually brings out both locals and those visiting the area. “You’re right on the water,” she says. “It’s simple in a cool, fun, casual way.

“As soon as you drive into Leelanau, you get that chill feel.”

Among the wineries in attendance will be Chateau Fontaine, French Valley Vineyards, Leelanau Wine Cellars, 45 North, Blustone Vineyards, Boathouse Vineyards, Bel Lago Vineyard, and Green Bird Organic Cellars. Also on board is Hop Lot Brewing Co.

Tom Knighton of Blustone says the festival attracts a good crowd and its vibe makes Wine on the Water especially enjoyable. “What’s fun is it’s laid-back. Festivals are a great opportunity to connect with the community and with people visiting.”

Many of the participants have been a part of the festival since it began many years ago in Northport before moving to Suttons Bay. That includes Chateau de Leelanau, though Matt Gregory, the winemaker and managing partner, notes he won’t be offering wine. “We go as our cidery (Tractor Pull Hard Cider),” he says. “Our cidery and Tiki bar … helps us stand out.” Look for the thatched roof and you’ll know you’ve found it.

Steve Lutke of Hop Lot says he likes to bring something different to the party, too. Hop Lot will offer a Belgian Whit with coriander and orange peel. “It’s fruity and a little spicy,” Steve says. The brewery will probably also include a brown ale and a lighter IPA, all of which Lutke says are great for warm, sunny summer days.

While wine is the focus, with the added attraction of cider and beer, Wine on the Water also offers locally sourced food such as hot dogs and brats from Pleva’s, chicken and beef tacos, and paella.

Ultimately what matters is that all those in attendance enjoy the ambiance, the food, the music, and especially the wine. “I don’t think you can go wrong,” Lorri says. “There’s over 50 wines to taste, some really good reds and crisp, clean whites perfect for a summer day.”

“It’s a great reason to come and see what’s new in the wine world,” Sherri adds.

Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the gate. Included are a commemorative wine glass and three tasting tickets; extra tasting tickets are available during the event.

For tickets and more information, visit MyNorthTickets.com.

Northern Michigan Wine Events

Photo(s) by Taylor Brown