Wine Tasting in Northern Michigan

Chateau Grand Traverse at Sunset

Back in November I wrote about Bourbon tasting in Kentucky. This past weekend we did a beverage tour that is much more my speed: we went wine tasting. Old Mission Peninsula extends into the Grand Traverse Bay of Lake Michigan extending out from the popular tourist town of Traverse City. The interesting thing about Old Mission Peninsula is that it lies on the 45th parallel, halfway between the North Pole and the Equator, which is an ideal climate for growing grapes. Interestingly, Bordeaux is also on the 45th parallel.

Nine wineries make up the Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula Wine Trail (although when we were there, I learned there are a few more wineries on the peninsula that for whatever reason aren’t on the wine trail) and on this trip we visited four of them: Chateau Grand Traverse, Bowers Harbor, 2 Lads, and Peninsula Cellars. Chateau Grand Traverse was founded in 1974 and was the first commercial winery in Northern Michigan and was the first Michigan winery to grow European grape varietals (Riesling, Chardonnay, etc.). Of the wineries we visited, Chateau Grand Traverse had the most extensive wine list and I liked that you could deduct your tasting fee from any purchases made in the tasting room. Chateau Grand Traverse offers a free tour that showcases their history as well as the wine making process. If you’re visiting the area, I highly recommend you check it out. We also loved Bowers Harbor, which is another one of the older wineries in the area, with the first vines being planted in 1991. Their wines are sophisticated and the tasting room is cozy. With the $5 tasting fee, you get to keep your glass. 2 Lads Winery is one of the newer wineries and its modern architecture really makes it stand apart from the others in the area. They have a smaller selection (you get 5 tastings for $5 and they tell you to basically choose the one you don’t want) but they were all complex and sophisticated.  Peninsula Cellars was the last winery we visited and it was the one we were least impressed with. It is housed in a historic schoolhouse and has a unique feel to it, but the tasting room was small and when a bus pulled in it got crowded. I wasn’t impressed with their wines at all, they were mostly too sweet for me. Overall, Chateau Grand Traverse and Bowers Harbor remain our favorites. We also liked 2 Lads and it will probably remain in the rotation with Chateau Chantal (which we didn’t visit this time but we have in the past) but we will skip Peninsula Cellars.

This photo of Chateau Grand Traverse was taken at the roadside park that is on the road right in front of the vineyard and tasting room. We got lucky that there was a stunning sunset that night. I had my tripod pointed toward the bay but when the sun poked out and illuminated the vines and the rooftop, I swiftly picked up the entire tripod and snapped a quick shot knowing that I was probably going to have to straighten in post processing. When I got back to my computer, I realized that this rapid-fire shot, was one of my favorites of the evening.

To plan your wine tasting tour of Old Mission, visit WineriesofOMP.com and OldMission.com. Please, explore the region responsibly. There are many tour companies in the area, but TraverseCityTours.com was the cheapest I could find. Thanks for stopping by! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page.

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