Michigan’s culinary exploits cover the gamut with everything from farm markets to u-pick farms, from winery tours to local breakfast joints, from family-owned bakeries to fine dining establishments. With our dairy stores, county fairs and gala food festival, you're sure to be pleased with all the culinary delights that our state has to offer.
You’re invited to a celebration! Michigan wineries across the state welcome you to a number of festive and bubbly events to sample the fruit of the vine designed to introduce exceptional wines from the 2011 harvest. And there’s no better time to plan a Pure Michigan winery tour than in April, which has been designated by Governor Rick Snyder as Michigan Wine Month. Visit Michigan Wines for a complete list of events taking place in celebration of this designation.
David Geen leads tours to the world’s culinary meccas: Tuscany, Burgundy, Provence, and now, Saugatuck. The owner of Michigan-based Villas and Vines (269/857-1700) saw local artisans making cheese, craft beers, smoked fish and award-winning wines, the rolling orchards of peaches and cherries, the fields of blueberries, and realized “everything going on in Europe, it’s all right here.” Thirty years ago, Justin Rashid and Larry Forgione had a similar vision. Today, their American Spoon Foods fruit and other Michigan products claim an international clientele and multiple retail outlets.
Hungry Village Tours — walking or driving tours to farms, gelaterias and more — are part of a statewide boom in culinary and agri-tourism options. At michigan.org, you’ll find more than a dozen foodie trails, by region. Some showcase farm-to-table cuisine, others U-pick fruit or farm visits.
Wine tours put Michigan on the culinary map, but no one’s resting on their laurels. Nine new wineries opened last year and programs like the Uncommon Adventures “water to wine” tour offer new twists — in this case, a kayak trip followed by winery visits. Microbrews are flourishing all across the state. One brewer is crafting plans for a Traverse City-area tasting room and inn on a farm growing hops and other fruits/herbs that will flavor the beer.
The chance to interact with top chefs and taste great foods is the fun of new restaurant walking tours. Create your own food channel experience with Grand Rapids' new “dive bars and breakfast joints” tour of the hidden gems — the places with some of the best burgers, steak dinners, breakfast buffets and prices. Detroit-based Feet on the Street Tours will take you on culinary adventures, with exploring and tasting tours of historic Eastern Market. Other longtime food fests honor the region’s fishing bounty, baby food makers or ethnic heritage.
Back to basics
A company called Bygone Basics is bringing simple back. Tour participants learn to preserve fresh local foods through old-fashioned skills like canning and pie-making while feasting on local fruits, cheeses and homemade breads. In Suttons Bay, another food historian is opening a circa n 1910 farmhouse inn serving recipes that are period correct. And at foodie institutions like Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor, “Bakecations” continue to draw the curious and hungry from as far away as Hawaii.
Down on the farm
Tours that head to the farm itself are the hottest thing on the horizon, so watch for options through companies like Learn Great Foods to pick the produce that will be crafted into the evening meal, or the Lubbers Family Farm near Grand Rapids to hang behind the scenes as cheese is made and artisan bread bakes.
Whet your appetite for foodie tours at michigan.org.