Want to sample some of Northern Michigan’s best wines? Good news! It’s ready and waiting for you in the Petoskey Wine Region. All PWR winery owners ask is: “Be nice, be patient and be kind.”

The Petoskey Wine Region invites visitors to come and sip estate wines made expertly from cold-hardy grapes, all while enjoying this year’s particularly lush vineyards framed in bright autumn hues. In return, they just ask for extra patience—and kindness—and that you follow rules intended to keep visitors and staff safe. Working together means the wineries can be open and thriving.

Here are some COVID-19-related policies and etiquette rules from each winery, along with reasons aplenty to make the effort.

 1918 Cellars at Castle Farms

Get royally pampered under the barn-wood ceilings of the cozy Queen’s Tavern or the expanded outdoor space within this dramatic stone-walled castle.

Visitors Must: Wear a mask inside, except when seated at your table. There’s added social distancing in the tasting line, and reservations are requested for parties over four.

Bonus: Wednesdays bring a live concert series that this fall alternates with their new Singo Bingo (Bingo to music genres). Sip the seasonal apple cinnamon cider with food offerings from the new-this-year bistro. 

Boyne Valley Vineyards

This rustic beauty of a tasting room is cradled in mature trees with stunning fall foliage and offers visit-worthy weekend entertainment.

Visitors Must: Wear a mask except when at the table or tasting, and make a reservation for groups of 8–10. No groups larger than 10 allowed this fall. Hand sanitizing stations are abundant.

Bonus: The indoor tasting room opens on three sides with garage doors, making for a great indoor/outdoor space. There’s live entertainment Fridays and Saturdays through October on a large lawn space. Watch for the late-fall opening of a 600-square-foot treehouse tasting room tucked right in the maples. 

Cellar 1914

Laid-back tasting room with dry and sweet wines and hard ciders just north of Torch Lake on an 1,100-acre centennial fruit and cattle farm.

Visitors Must: “Be a responsible human being.” Wearing of masks is encouraged, social distancing required and hand sanitizer provided for guests.

Bonus: Fall brings a three-quarter-mile corn maze, grain bin basketball, fowling (a combination of football and bowling) and other fun outdoor activities.

Crooked Vine Vineyard and Winery

Relax in the shade of this boutique winery and gaze at vineyards, sparkling lakes and maple-covered hillsides ablaze in oranges and reds. 

Visitors Must: Wear masks, except at the tasting bar. Call ahead if your group’s size is above four. Seating is outside and covered.

Bonus: Participate in the grape harvest for a hands-on experience, mid-September to late October (but call ahead); or meander the half-mile walking trail through the woods.

Mackinaw Trail Winery and Brewery

There’s always an air of casual fun in this family-run operation with a soaring tasting room, but there’s serious winemaking too, evidenced by the wall of medals.

Visitors Must: Wear masks when you enter the building until sitting outside in the open-air pavilion with your tasting flight. Maintain six-foot distancing, and be patient as the staff sanitizes between tasting guests. Reservations needed only for groups over 10, many of whom have tastings in the barrel room.

Bonus: Join the harvest (for pay, by the pound), or just enjoy the stunning fall colors while sipping new releases—pumpkin beer and cranberry wine.

Maple Moon Sugarbush and Winery

Sip wine—dry and sweet—from fermented sap in the country’s first commercial maple winery set right amid the maple grove.

Visitors Must: Follow all regulations including wearing a mask when indoors and not seated. On Saturdays, a greeter at the door will monitor the number of people inside the building. There is outdoor seating and an outdoor fire, but outdoors, wine will be served only by the glass (no tastings).

Bonus: Take a free tour of the tap-to-table syrup making process amid the 28 acres of maple sugar trees every day at noon (by appointment) and learn how they ferment maple sap to make wine. To your tasting, add cheese plates, salsa flights or maple sugar cookie ice cream sandwiches.

Petoskey Farms Vineyard and Winery

Enjoy pretty samplers of award-winning wines on covered multi-level patios and decks overlook the vineyard and rolling countryside.

Visitors Must: Follow all CDC and local health and safety guidelines including mask-wearing everywhere except when seated at your table. Outdoor-only tables are first come, first serve and are spaced six feet apart and sanitized between uses. No groups over six allowed, and while children are welcome, they must remain at the table with their parents and wear a mask if they leave their seats.

Bonus: Newly added 1,150-square-foot deck expands already ample outdoor space. New wood pellet patio heaters will keep outdoor seating cozy.

Photo by Dave Weidner

Photo of Rudbeckia Winery and Burnt Marshmallow Brewstillery

Pond Hill Farms Winery

Located on the M-119 Tunnel of Trees, the state’s most iconic fall color drive, tasting here is accompanied by a day’s worth of fall fun at the on-site cafe, brewery, farm market and animal farm. 

Visitors Must: Wear a mask indoors and also outside when social distancing is not possible. Masks may be removed while seated at tables. Hand sanitizer is offered around the farm.

Bonus: Sipping under the spacious outdoor Biergarten tent or while wandering some 200 acres of property that also houses a brewery, cafe, market and farm. Kids can enjoy the playground, animal petting and large pumpkin patch while parents wine taste.

Resort Pike Cidery and Winery

Tasting barn set amid several acres of vineyard with a casual vibe and enough varieties of sparkling wine and ciders for some mixology fun.

Visitors Must: Wear masks while inside unless seated; social distancing required between guests and in tasting lines. The tasting room is limited to half capacity, but extra tables have been added to an expanded outdoor tasting area.

Bonus: Stunning countryside setting for enjoying new-release ciders including apple raspberry, apple cinnamon and a margarita-style sea salt and lime.

Royal Farms Winery

The pretty red-and-white farm market is particularly beguiling in fall when you can sip cider and wine made from fruits of the orchard, pick apples or taste the famed meat pasties or donuts.

Visitors Must: Wear a mask when indoors and until seated there or in new tented outdoor space. All tasting is done by purchase of flights of four or six pours of cider or wine, or in combination. Reservations are required for large parties.

Bonus: That the winery is based at a popular farm market opens up possibilities for fun including the chance to enjoy a patio flight while the rest of the family explores the corn maze or sip a hard cider while apple picking or sampling a fresh donut. Try the newly-released McGoos, a dry wine with apple aromas made with multiple fermentations.

 Rudbeckia Winery and Burnt Marshmallow Brewstillery

This 190-acre vineyard, winery, nano-brewery and tasting room offers family-friendly entertainment and the chance to sip artisanal wines in a countryside setting. 

Visitors Must: Make an advanced reservation. Once on-site, all orders are placed through smartphones via contactless mobile ordering. Masks must be worn when not seated and when using restrooms inside the building. Being patient, understanding and friendly is also requested!

Bonus: Instagram-perfect posing with pet pigs Coco and Posey or photo-worthy s’more porter served with a burning marshmallow on top; warming bonfires; romantic, private picnics in the vineyard by reservation; and this year’s “amazing” Marquette wine—fruit-forward with black cherry notes—and a new-release Candy Apple Cider.

Seasons of the North Winery

This small family-owned winery features wines with evocative names like River’s Edge, Lake House and Back Roads, that one made from wild grape varieties native to the region.

Visitors Must: Wear a mask when inside the building, though a large area for outside seating is available.

Bonus: Bonfires for warming, huge lawn for social distancing and a late-bites food menu.

Spare Key Winery

This winery in a pastoral setting between Charlevoix and Bay Harbor features estate-grown and produced red, white and fruit wine.

Visitors Must: Do their tasting outside, either under the large tent or on the lawn and also must practice social distancing. Guests are encouraged to take their wine and explore throughout the pet-friendly vineyard.

Bonus: Views of rolling hills and fall colors over the vineyard right along the tasting area. A must-try new release is the Golden Muscat, a dry white, and new Landot Marquette blend.

Walloon Lake Winery  

This winery developed on a long-time family farm features a visit-worthy tasting room made from wood harvested from the property.

Visitors Must: “Follow the first rule, which is kindness, the second which is patience and the third, which is that you must wear a mask inside the building.” No masks required on the patio once served, but no visiting between tables unless it’s with a group you came with. Reservations required for groups of six or more.

Bonus: The large pavilion and patio area is fringed by hills with stunning fall foliage, and there’s a new fall release. The Indian Garden Gris is a dry white blend made from Tip of the Mitt AVA grapes.

By Kim Schneider, is a long-time travel writer specializing in Michigan adventures, food and wine. The Midwest Travel Journalist Association has named her Mark Twain Travel Writer of the Year, and she’s the author of the recently published book, “100 Things to Do in Traverse City Before You Die.”

Photo(s) by Dave Weidner