The Best Wineries in Michigan
Black Star Farms Winery | © Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail / Flickr
With over 100 wineries bringing an estimated 1.5 million visitors to the region every year, Michigan’s wine country has become one of its top tourist attractions.
Wineries are common in grape-growing regions along the Lake Michigan shore and clustered around Traverse City and the surrounding peninsulas, and wine trails are a popular way to explore these beautiful parts of the state. Here is our pick of the wineries to check out in the “Napa of the Midwest.”
Fenn Valley Vineyards
Michigan’s oldest grape-growing region is the Fennville AVA (American Viticultural Area), and its top winery is Fenn Valley Vineyards. On a 240-acre farm located five miles (eight kilometers) from Lake Michigan just south of Holland, it has produced world-class wines for over 40 years by using progressive and scientific techniques to maintain the quality of its products. It has a tasting room in Saugatuck as well as one on-site, the latter of which also offers in-depth tours of the vineyards and cellars.
Black Star Farms Winery
Black Star Farms Winery
has two locations, one on each of the peninsulas above Traverse City, but its flagship location is near Suttons Bay on the Leelanau Peninsula. It offers an extensive list of wines and dessert wines, as well as ciders and brandies, and the “lake effect” climate that many of Michigan’s wineries benefit from means its Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir are particularly good.
A family-run winery located on the Old Mission Peninsula, Peninsula Cellars was started in 1991 by a family with over 100 years of history of farming in the area. Its selection includes red and white varietals, fruit wines and hard ciders, and its tasting room in a historic schoolhouse building is open year-round, offering a relaxed and hospitable atmosphere as well as a flight of five wines to sample for just $5.
Bowers Harbor Vineyards
Only five minutes north of Peninsula Cellars and established in the same year, Bowers Harbor Vineyards sits on the site of a former horse farm, with the tasting room now occupying what was once a stable. It has 20 acres of vines and produces more than 30 wines and ciders, and tastings can be combined with a tour from May until October. Alongside the excellent wine, the main attraction is the stunning scenery and views of the Grand Traverse Bay.
Shady Lane Cellars
Sitting between the Grand Traverse Bay and Lake Leelanau, Shady Lane Cellars dates back to 1987 when it took over a longstanding fruit farm. The centerpiece is a 100-year-old fieldstone chicken coop now transformed into an elegant tasting room, though the outdoor tasting area on the patio is a wonderful place to sample some wine on a warm day. Your first taste is complimentary, with an additional five tastes available for $5.
Chateau Grand Traverse Winery
Chateau Grand Traverse
has been producing fine wines on the Old Mission Peninsula for 43 years and was one of the pioneers of the region. The winery, famed for its award-winning Rieslings among many others, is also home to some of the best panoramic views of the Bay, which can be enjoyed from the tasting room, vineyard tours and as a guest at its inn
, where rooms come with a complimentary bottle of wine.
Crooked Vine Vineyard and Winery
Farther north in the Lower Peninsula, the Crooked Vine Vineyard and Winery lies in the newest Michigan AVA, the Tip of the Mitt, which is situated around the Little Traverse Bay. Another family winery, owners Geoff and Gail Frey share their passion and knowledge by guiding guests through informative tastings, including detailed information about the grapes and their history.