There is something special about Northern Michigan in the summertime. It's home to beautiful lakes, but also a variety of wineries that compete with others around the world! I recently had two friends who have never been to the Great Lake State and I knew that Traverse City was the perfect destination, especially for a Traverse City Wine Tour!
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Wineries on Old Mission Peninsula
There are two peninsulas near Traverse City: Old Mission Peninsula and Leelanau Peninsula. Both are home to some incredible wineries. This blog post will cover vineyards on Old Mission Peninsula with some helpful tips if you're visiting the area.
Ideally, two days is plenty to explore the Traverse area wineries; as they share similar views and after that much vino, it can feel redundant. We visited three wineries on a beautiful, sunny September Saturday and it was everything (the kind of everything that reminds you how great living in the State of Michigan is).
There are a number of wineries on the peninsula that are less than a 5 minute drive from each one. Here are some of the most popular:
- Bowers Harbor Vineyard (One of Designated Deb's favorites!)
- Chateau Chantal
- Peninsula Cellars (it's nickname is the Schoolhouse and all of the wines are named after schoolwork!) Deb said it's charming and quaint.
- Brys Estate Vineyard and Winery
- Bonobo Winery - It's only 4 years old and you can feel it! Evolved, yet industrial. Great vibes!
- Mari Vineyard - we didn't visit this one, but just driving by it, you feel transported to Tuscany
- Tabone Vineyards
If you are traveling with less than 6 people, Designated Deb has my highest recommendation. She will pick you up from your home/hotel, take you to any and every winery, and offer lovely company along the way. We coordinated with her a few days prior to our Traverse City winery tour and were lucky she was still available!!
Tip: Bring a cooler of refreshments and snacks for you to stay hydrated during the tastings. Most wineries offer food and beverage, but it was extra convenient to have snacks in her car.
I've also heard good things about Traverse City Wine Girl. They were already booked when I was looking; but another great option for group tours. If you are traveling with a larger group, my friends have used Brew Bus in the past and liked it!
Note: most ride share apps are incredibly limited around Traverse City. As one winery's website stated: it's a four hour walk back to the city if you are left out on the Peninsula. I would not rely on any of them.
Do I need to make a reservation for a Traverse City Wine Tour?
A few years ago, the answer was an easy no. However, I absolutely recommend making a reservation for any an all wineries now. I scheduled our three tastings for 1 hour and 15 minutes apart and it gave us a good hour at each one.
Some of the wineries will have you prepay for tastings and initially I didn't like that; however, it made our life so much easier. I highly recommend that. You'll be able to select any wine from their tasting menu once you arrive.
How much does each tasting cost?
This will vary by each winery! However, most of them were between $8-$21 dollars and varied between 3 and 5 tastings. All of the Traverse City wineries we went to offered tastings; but double check as I know some only offer by the glass or bottle.
Wineries we visited on our Traverse City Wine Tour
We made a reservation for every vineyard and it felt needed. We went on a Saturday afternoon in September and the wineries were buzzing!!
- Chateau Chantal: The vineyard sits up on a hill overlooking East Bay (Lake Michigan) on one side and West Bay (Lake Michigan) on the other. It's breezy and lovely. It was the cheapest tasting we did; but also our least favorite wine. There is a large outdoor patio and feels very commercially oriented. I believe there is an Inn on the property and that would be lovely to stay at!
- Bonobo Winery: This is one of the newest wineries on the Peninsula and we loved the modern farmhouse inspired design. It has cornhole, many purposefully staged photography moments, and indoor and outdoor seating. The tasting was 5 wines; 4 white ones and one red wine. They are notably open later than every other vineyard, and after 6pm, you'll be able to tell. Everyone flocks there 🙂
- Brys Estate & Vineyard: This is by far my favorite winery we visited. Make a reservation for their upper deck patio and experience the stunning views. I felt transported to the East Coast. It offers seasonal wine drinks, sits on a lavender farm, serve award-winning wine, and I think have the best tasting wines, too! They offer tastings of 3 or 5; and we preferred the Rose and bubbly wines (I was shocked - I am a Cab girl, through and through). They close earlier than some other wineries though; so be sure you leave yourself enough time to enjoy the blissful space.
Traverse City Wine Tour FAQs
Great question, are you a cider or beer lover instead? There are some wineries that also serve cider! Try looking into a brewery too. We are residents in Elk Rapids, and Short's Brewing is always poppin'!! It's a 30 minute drive from Traverse City.
If you ask the Michigan native, I think most would tell you between July and end of September. Those are the peak months that the weather is beautiful, and so are the views. A lot of the wineries stay open year-round. Check every Vineyard's seasonal hours as they do change just to be sure!
Other travel guides to explore
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. It’s my passion to share about traveling that can aid your experience or be shared with others. Let me know if you have any questions; happy to answer them below! Safe travels XO Courtney Paige
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