Nestled between West and East Grand Traverse Bay is Old Mission Peninsula. One of the oldest areas of Traverse City, Michigan and home to the beloved cherry orchards of the region, this 19-mile strip of land has emerged as one of the best wine regions in all of the United States. Although a relatively new industry, the wine region of Traverse City has won many accolades and awards including – One of the 7 Top Wine Regions to Watch in the USA (only wine region outside of California) by Tasting & Touring magazine, One of the 7 Under-The-Radar Wine Regions in the World by Thrillist, and One of the Top 10 Places to Enjoy Local Wines by USA Today. If you haven’t noticed, I’m just a bit proud of my adopted hometown of Traverse City ;)
Traverse City is blessed to be on the 45th parallel – exactly halfway between the Equator and the North Pole. This puts it on the same latitude as Bordeaux and with a similar climate to the wine regions in Germany. Obviously, as a lover of anything and everything German, I absolutely LOVE the wines of Traverse City, especially all the Rieslings (seriously, you must try a Riesling!). Actually, a few of the wineries and vineyards in Traverse City are run by Germans or Austrians :)
While in Traverse City with the Prince, one of my oldest and dearest friends came to visit me. Joanna and I were roommates at Wash U together and have stayed great friends. She just got engaged a few months ago and is getting married in Hawaii next July. I’m so excited because I get to be a bridesmaid in her wedding :)
When I knew she was visiting, I convinced my little sister, Paris, who is only 18, to be our designated driver for a wine tasting tour of Old Mission Peninsula. I should mentioned that on this 19-mile peninsula, there are at least 10 wineries and vineyards! I started snapchatting (follow me @jbwagner) the experience but quickly lost track of all the wineries! ;)
Below I’ve outlined my favorite wineries and must-see locations on Old Mission Peninsula!
1. Black Star Farms
Black Star Farms has a larger vineyard and B&B on the drive up to Suttons Bay, Michigan, but I couldn’t resist popping in to their Old Mission Peninsula location for one of my favorite wines – the Late Harvest Riesling! It is absolutely delicious and such a great white wine.
I should also note that Black Star Farms definitely has some of the best service and the friendliest staff out of all the wineries we visited. From the people at the front counter to the individuals doing the serving, they were all so friendly, outgoing, and made me really enjoy my entire experience!
2. Mari Vineyards
A newer winery on Old Mission Peninsula (at least a newer tasting room, they’ve been producing wine for a while), they have the best patio out of any of the wineries. It was great to be able to sit outside and overlook the orchards. My boyfriend was excited because one of the top employees at the winery (I forget his exact job!) is from Austria :)
3. Bonobo Winery
Opened last year, this winery has a very modern feel with a huge porch area (that may or may not played a role in our mini photo shoot!). They definitely have one of the best views on Old Mission Peninsula!
4. Chateau Grand Traverse
This is, hands down, one of my favorite wineries! The winemaker is from Germany and makes the most incredibly Rieslings! I also have to note that in terms of scenery, this is one of the best locations on all of Old Mission Peninsula.
This was the point in our wine tasting that we all agreed we needed some snacks. Thankfully, Chateau Grand Traverse has quite an extensive list of bite-sized snacks and finger foods.
5. Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery
This is a new winery for me but definitely one I’ll visit again. Besides the endless rows of vines on the property, the inside decor is just what you would expect from a winery…an abundance of wine barrels!
The lady who served us at this vineyard was so incredibly sweet! She just had the liveliest personality and kept asking the Prince questions about Germany, how we met, what we plan to do in the future, etc. Plus, being surrounded by all the wine barrels added a cool ambiance to the entire experience.
6. Chateau Chantal
I might be a bit of a broken record but this might actually be my favorite view from Old Mission Peninsula! haha, I guess the moral of this blog post is that you really can’t go wrong choosing to go wine tasting at any of the wineries and vineyards on the peninsula!
7. Bonus: 2 Lads Winery
Due to not having enough time, we ended up eliminating 2 Lads Winery because it is located almost at the tip of Old Mission Peninsula. However, if you have enough time, I’d highly recommend going there. Not only do you have a fantastic view of East Grand Traverse Bay, but 2 Lads Winery has the best red wines on the entire peninsula. Because of the climate, Traverse City mostly produces white wines. However, if you’re looking for a good red wine, head to 2 Lads!
The map above should be a great starting point for your wine-tasting adventures in Traverse City and on Old Mission Peninsula! Have fun, drink responsibly, and let me know if you have any more questions :)