Wineries on Old Mission Peninsula

On Saturday afternoon of our Michigan TIOEX excursion, it rained. It seemed like the perfect time to visit a few of the wineries located on Old Mission Peninsula, which happens to sit on the 45th Parallel — just like Italy. Because of this, you’ll find nine vineyards scattered along the peninsula that juts into the Traverse Bay and nearly all of them offered wine tastings.

We visited four different wineries. Each was crowded with Bachelorette parties and as we drove from one to another, we saw a multitude of brides (8!)  having wedding pictures taken despite the dreary weather. apparently some of the wineries have space for weddings, and there are tons of picturesque locales for wedding photo backdrops.

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One member of our group joked that this was a bad place to come if you’d just suffered a break-up. True, the wedding parties could be a painful reminder of recently-lost love, but the varieties of wine were expansive enough to drown any sorrows.

My favorites (and I was alone in this) were the cherry wines. Northern Michigan is know for its cherries and I am a sucker for anything cherry: pie, beer (Belgian Kriek), turnovers, ice cream, etc.. The cherry wine was delicious. I bought a bottle at each of the wineries. It’s kinda nice that I don’t have to share. 🙂

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Peninsula Cellars Winery in an old schoolhouse

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But I’m happy to share the other bottles I bought. Especially the ones from the Peninsula Schoolhouse winery. I loved the ambience there. It incorporated the schoolhouse theme with blackboards on the wall, and photo spots that no one there could resist. The names of the wines were cute, too, and included descriptions such as:

‘Detention’ – A blend of Baco Noir, Lemberger, and Cabernet Franc.

‘Homework’ – This rosė is produced in a sweet style and packed with strawberry, watermelon and raspberry flavors.

‘Summer Vacation’  – A sweet muscat with flavors of bright citrus fruit and orange blossoms.

‘Exchange Student’ – A blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Syrah showcase cedar, tobacco, and leather aromas.

The 2 Lads winery was very modern. It had a completely glass front that overlooked part of their vineyard and in the distance, the Grand Traverse bay. What makes them unique, besides the modern decor, is their sustainability farming of grapes and gravity-flow wine-making process. Probably the most “green” of the wineries on OMP.

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Black Star Winery was very crowded when we stopped in. Like many of the other wineries, it is on the itinerary for some of the local wine tour excursions. (Always nice to be driven between wine tastings, that’s for sure!) Black Star Farms features two winery production facilities with tasting rooms, a distillery, a luxury Inn, a farm-to-table cafe, an equestrian facility and a unique urban tasting room/wine bar in the historic Village at Grand Traverse Commons. Lots of wedding parties when we stopped on Saturday at noon.

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We ended with Chateau Grand Traverse, which had delicious wines and the best prices of the four we visited. What was nice about all of these wineries was that you could choose the wines you wanted to taste. In most, you paid $4-6 for 5 different tastings and you circled the ones you wanted. Chateau Grand Traverse had the most expansive menu and we all tried completely different types. One again, I stuck with cherry wines. I’m very easy to please.

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There were several other wineries that we didn’t visit. Four was enough for one afternoon, I think. But if you wanted to make a whole weekend of it… well, that would be an indulgent way to see this grape-drenched section of Michigan.

How many wineries do you think you’d visit before you found yourself “in detention?”

8 responses to “Wineries on Old Mission Peninsula

  1. It looks like fun visiting all those places–particularly Peninsula Cellars Winery. Incidentally, I absolutely agree with you about cherry-flavored things. I love cherry beer, cherry cake, cherry pie, and so on. I even love cherries themselves. 🙂

  2. Looks fun Julie. One doesn’t usually think of US in terms of wine production. It would all be wasted on me as I can’t tell a quality wine from a bottle of plonk.

    • You know there are whole movies addressing American wines (particularly Californian). Movies like “Sideways.” I can’t tell you, either, if they’re quality wines. I only know what I like. 🙂

  3. That’s a great way to spend a rainy day. Especially to be driven to each winery so you can let go and enjoy the day. It sounds like your Michigan excursion could be totally fun whether you’re on your own or with someone.

    • It was a fun excursion to take as a solo traveler. I often join small group tours when I travel alone. It lets me meet other people and since we’re all traveling, we can chat about different things we’ve seen or recommend in that place. I’m not sure I’d go to a wine tasting all alone, so you’re right that this was the perfect way to experience this even though I didn’t have a travel companion, per se.

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