A Pure Michigan Wine Tour

A fantastic guest blogger submission from Sherrie Pryor and Mike Brindley.  A wine tour is a great way to spend a Pure Michigan fall weekend!

Vineyard view

Vineyard view

Touring the various Michigan Wine trails has become one of our favorite vacation activities. This year, we spent our July 4th holiday in a log chalet on Fife Lake, for their “Best 4th in the North” celebration. Thanks to some careful monitoring of the weather channel, we were able to have the best of all worlds; we planned out a long weekend of boating on the lake for the sunniest days and saved our tour of the Old Mission Peninsula Wineries for the one overcast day.

Below are Mike & Sherrie’s “Best Of” Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula July 2009

1. Black Star Farms - Best Hospitality on the peninsula. We loved the Hard Apple Cider! The Sirius Cherry Dessert Wine is divine with a piece of semi-sweet chocolate. If you can only visit one winery on the Peninsula, this is the one.

2. Peninsula Cellars – An adorable one room school house converted to a tasting room with a friendly staff and the rock-your-socks Hot Rod  Cherry wine at $11.99 per bottle, please give me two!

Peninsula Winery Schoolhouse

Peninsula Winery Schoolhouse

3. Chateau Chantal – Big variety of wines, more commercial than some of the others, but worth the drive for the view alone. With rolling hills of vineyards in every direction and views of both bays, you will feel like you’ve been transported to California or Italy.  

4. Bowers Harbor Vineyards – We loved Bowers Harbor for the vineyard dog and the friendly, homey atmosphere. They specialize in Riesling and Chardonnay.

5. Chateau Grand Traverse –The Cherry Sangria is — delicioso! We were sure to bring a bottle home with us.  Mike also liked the Late Harvest Riesling, but we decided to wait and pick that up at Meijer’s since it is readily available near home.

The other two wineries: 2 Lads and Brys Estate were not really our cup of tea–or wine. 2 Lads is an extremely modern, metal and glass building, up a hill at the end of a long, winding driveway, with an austere, almost science-lab atmosphere. The wines were pricier and they specialized in dry to semi-sweet whites, which we haven’t been drinking much of this season.

Brys Estate is a beautiful, elegant tasting room with rich, dark wood walls, but again, offered little that appealed to our sweet, fruity, red tastes. They also do not offer complimentary tastings, which we understand may be the way of the future on the Peninsula.

One of the interesting things we learned on our visit is that in order to have the designation of “Old Mission Winery” and to operate a tasting room in the peninsula, 85% of the fruit (grapes, apples, cherries) must come from vineyards and orchards on the Old Mission Peninsula. Since the area is mostly conducive to growing Chardonnay grapes and Riesling grapes, it means that sweet red wine drinkers, like us, will not find a wide variety of selections.

The Leelenau Peninsula wineries do not have this limitation, so we are very excited for our next wine tasting trip to explore the 15+ wineries in that area.

Also not to be missed on your journey to the Old Mission Peninsula: Bad Dog Deli for their amazing sandwiches and Old Mission Point Lighthouse for a little peek into the history of the peninsula.



Sherrie Pryor, owner of One Office Girl, LLC,  a small business offering support services to other small businesses spends her free time exploring Michigan’s small towns and festivals.  You can contact her by leaving a comment below, or via Facebook.

 Mike Brindley is a foreman for the City of Plymouth Municipal services department, but grew up growing food on a farm in West Branch, Michigan. He loves to spend his time just about anywhere in Michigan’s outdoors.

23 thoughts on “A Pure Michigan Wine Tour

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  5. Thank you everyone for all of the kind words, good tips and information. Last spring we did Michigan’s Pioneer wine trail and we found some delicious wines there too like the raspberry desser wine from lone oak vineyard and the Maria Maria sangria from Cherry Creek Winery. We can’t wait to visit the other wineries on the west side of the state as well.

  6. Good job Sherrie! We have a close friend in common, Leslie K. I’m the friend who married and moved to Oregon. You better believe Michigan has excellent wineries!!! I want to make a trip back to Mi. so my hubby can see all the beautiful sites Mi. has to offer, which are some of the finest wineries!! We both love the taste of wine. GOOD JOB!
    The Pedersons from Oregon

  7. Great to see you exploring the wineries of Old Mission Peninsula, since so many people visit Leelanau Peninsula without realizing the great wineries they are missing on the “other” peninsula! Indeed, the seven wineries on Old Mission make some of the very best Michigan wines available, for any palate and preference. While you discovered some great sweeter wines (both red and white) that suit your style, Brys and 2 Lads are especially known for their drier wines and fabulous red wines!

    For your information, the “limitation”of 85% fruit from the local region is a requirement of the AVA (American Viticultural Area) designation, which applies equally to Leelanau Peninsula, as well as the other two Michigan AVAs, Lake Michigan Shore and Fennville. This is to ensure that the wines you experience are truly representative of the local area.

    Also, the concept of charging for tastings is new to Brys, but will become the norm for all our Michigan wineries (as local ordinances allow it), just as it is in other premium wine-producing areas of the country. This has become necessary to avoid the wineries providing a free party for all those looking for “free” alcohol rather than discovering Michigan’s great wines – including bachelorette parties, coming-of-age celebrations and the like.

  8. I’m with Joel on the Cab Franc’s. Bry’s and 2 Lads are making some fantastic reds. These are best as a food wine (with lamb chops, steak, pasta etc. and need to breathe awhile before drinking-best to decant in a decanter or you can do it in a picture and pour back in the bottle before serving-we decant or open the bottle a few hours before drinking and really opens up nicely.
    PS) I think Bry’s is making one of the best Late harvest Rieslings in the state. Check it out when you go back. Nice pics…

  9. Thanks for the tour. I always love seeing wineries in different areas of the country, pretty, pretty pictures from your trip.

    Ever since 2005 when we got Michigan into the 21st century as far as its shipping laws I’ve been interested in trying some of your local wines.

    Thanks for the interesting blog entry.

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  12. Joel…thank you so much for this great news about 2 of our Michigan wineries! This may be just the good excuse we need to head back up and try out a few more wines!

  13. Sherrie and Mike, even though they might not tickle your palates, please don’t give short shrift to the great red grapes also grown on Old Mission, and the wineries that make them into wine. Brys and 2 Lads took the top statewide honors at this year’s Michigan Cabernet Franc Challenge.

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