Leelanau is known as “The Land of Delight,” so you might imagine that when the ingredients are Leelanau-grown and the bottles are poured in the Leelanau countryside, the region’s wine, beer, hard cider and spirits taste, well, delightful. Dive in to learn how to sip like a local!
Grab Dinner, a Brew & Market Goodies from Farm Club
New to the peninsula, Farm Club opened in July 2020. The farm/market/restaurant/brewery is a collaboration between Allison and Gary Jonas of Traverse City’s Little Fleet and Sara and Nic Thiesen of Leelanau’s Loma Farm. With a farm-fresh menu, nuanced, lower-ABV beers and easy access to the Leelanau Trail, it’s become a destination for all ages.
Explore 32 Wineries on Leelanau Peninsula
For the 21-plus club, it’s only fitting when visiting Leelanau, set as it is on the 45th Parallel (the same parallel as France’s Bordeaux and Côtes du Rhône regions and the Piedmont region of Italy), that your trip includes a stop at one of this peninsula’s 32 wineries and tasting rooms with their watery views and gorgeous settings. But this American Viticultural Area (AVA) is more than just a pretty face. Grapes thrive in this microclimate buffered from frosts and debilitating heat by Lake Michigan and inland lakes. The complex soil—a tapestry of clay, sand and glacial till—creates complex flavors that a handful of talented winemakers are turning into national and international award-winning wines. From the light, stone fruit sweetness of a riesling to the elegant notes of a pinot noir, Leelanau’s wines are world-class.
Go Wine Hopping with Tips from the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail
The Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail (the marketing organization for the wineries) makes it simple to plot your route by mapping the wineries into three loops: Sleeping Bear, Northern and Grand Traverse Bay. The organization’s website, lpwines.com, keeps you up to date on fun events happening in wine country and has extensive information about chauffeured tours (DDs being so important!), weddings and other group events at the wineries.
Visit These Three Leelanau Peninsula Cideries
Where grapes flourish, so do apples, and Leelanau is lucky to have three rustic cideries, all located in Suttons Bay, where you can sip hard cider surrounded by orchards. Nikki and Dan Rothwell opened Tandem Ciders a decade ago after having a cider epiphany on a bicycle tour of Southern England. Since then, two more cideries, Suttons Bay Ciders and Two K Farms, have grown up on the peninsula, using both heritage apple varieties and agricultural newcomers like the Honeycrisp to produce a range of bone dry to satisfyingly sweet beverages. Many of the wineries also produce cider, so it’s easy to get your apple fix.
Photo by Taylor Brown
Leelanau Breweries & Northern Michigan Taverns
And there’s not a town on the Leelanau Peninsula that doesn’t have at least one Up North-style tavern with an array of taps and an ice-cold glass waiting for you. The past decade has also brought a handful of breweries, including Hop Lot Brewing Co. in Suttons Bay, The Mitten Brewing Co. in Northport and Cherry Republic Brewing Co. in Glen Arbor. At Hop Lot, the Lutke family has created a welcoming hangout inside the taproom and out—but the four-season beer garden really takes the cake with fire pits, a stage for live music and plenty of room to spread out. And Cherry Republic Brewing Co. has the very cherry bonus of being located at the original Cherry Republic campus with its cheerful gardens, pit-spitting arena and lots of goodies for not-yet-21 visitors.
Local Leelanau Distilleries to Keep You in Good Spirits
When you’re in need of good spirits, you’ll find them aplenty at Northern Latitudes Distillery in Lake Leelanau, where the vibe is always relaxed, and glasses are full. Founders and owners Mark and Mandy Moseler craft vodkas, gins, rums, liqueurs and bourbon whiskey with Leelanau water, cherries and saskatoon berries, and you bet the corn, malt, barley and sugar beets are Michigan-grown, too. In nearby Leland, you’ll also want to check out the Traverse City-based spirits at Grand Traverse Distillery’s intimate tasting room with its old-timey bar ambiance (open seasonally; find hours online).
Find this article and more in the free, digital edition of MyNorth’s 2021 Northern Michigan Vacation Guide below; or get the Vacation Guide in print each year for free when you subscribe to Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine, delivered to your door each month.