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Wineries and Wine Tours of the Leelanau Peninsula

If you've never been to northern Michigan, you should make a spot for it on your list of places to go! Known for its year-round beauty and plethora of outdoor activities, this region of Michigan draws millions of visitors every year who are in search of a relaxed, Midwestern getaway on the shores of Lake Michigan. Some come to attend the annual week-long Cherry Festival in Traverse City every July. Others escape to the area for a family vacation at a quaint, waterfront cottage. Others come to climb the Sleeping Bear Dunes that rise 450' above Lake Michigan. And yet many other people head north to experience the beautiful wine country of northern Michigan. Leelanau County, which spans about 30 miles from the Lower Peninsula of Michigan out into Lake Michigan, is known for its internationally acclaimed Rieslings and Chardonnays and its beautiful countryside. This peninsula is the Midwest's version of Napa Valley, offering breathtaking views of beautiful Lake Michigan, 26 old world-style wineries, and plenty of charm to last you a lifetime. Located near the 45th parallel, the climate of Leelanau is perfect for growing grapes. When you're ready to embark on a wine tour of Leelanau Peninsula, you can either meander through the countryside on your own schedule, or you can go on a guided wine tour. Whether your visit brings you for a day or a week, the stunning beauty of this area is sure to capture your heart and make you a lifelong fan of northern Michigan. Let's take a closer look at what Michigan's wine country has to offer.

Our Favorite Wineries on Leelanau Peninsula

For those of you who don't have enough time to hit all 26 wineries on the peninsula, we've put together a list of our top five wineries to help give you some direction as you head up the peninsula. While each winery is magnificent in its own right, these are our favorites based on personal experience and reviews.

Chateau Fontaine | 2290 S. French Rd., Lake Leelanau

This family-run French winery boasts 30 acres of beautiful countryside on which they grow grapes for Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and more. Formerly a potato farm and cow pasture, Dan and Lucie Matthies grew their first grapes in 1987 and made their first Chardonnay a year later. They've been mentioned in Wine Spectator, and they've garnered awards at the Finger Lakes International Competition in 2012 and 2013 for their dry and semi-sweet White Rieslings, and also at the Best Pacific Rim White Wine in 2010 for their Gewurztraminer.

Forty-Five North Vineyard & Winery | 8580 E. Horn Rd., Lake Leelanau

Owned by Steve Grossnickle, a former ophthalmologist from Indiana, and his wife Lori, Forty-Five North Vineyard & Winery sits among the rolling hills in the middle of the peninsula. Over 35 acres are farmed to produce delicious Chardonnays, Pinot Gris, Rieslings, Vignoles, Cabernet Francs, Merlots and Pinot Noirs. Named for its location directly on the 45th parallel, they've won 72 awards at competitions across the country since they opened their doors in 2006. Something unique about this winery is that part of it will forever be protected from development thanks to its owner's commitment to preserving the area as it is. Working with the Leelanau Conservancy, the Grossnickle's donated part of their land in an effort to keep it designated as farm land forever.

Leelanau Cellars Tasting Room | 5019 W. Bay Shore Dr., Omena

With over 35 years of experience crafting award-winning wines, Leelanau Cellars Tasting Room deserves a spot on your list of wineries to visit. The tasting room is open year-round for you to experience the best in northern Michigan wines. Winning 39 medals for varieties of Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, and more, this family-operated winery farms over 90 acres of vineyards to produce over 30 varieties of wines that are sold in retail stores throughout the Great Lakes region and online. Visit their tasting room to discover your new favorite Michigan wine.

Cherry Republic Winery | 6026 S. Lake St., Glen Arbor

If you're a fan of cherries, you're going to love your stop at Cherry Republic Winery in Glen Arbor. With a touch of cherry added to everything they do, they offer award-winning wines and delicious food too! Taste sweet and dry cherry-flavored wines, as well as cherry ciders. You can even bring the kids along to this winery, as they offer Cherry Root Bear and Cherry Lemonade for tasting as well. The Grand Café serves scrumptious sandwiches, like the Cherry Bacon Marmalade Burger and world-famous grilled cheese, salads, cookies, pie, and floats. This stop is just as much about the food as it is about the wine!

Black Star Farms | 10844 E. Revold Rd., Suttons Bay

Started in 1998, this small winery has become a big deal! With three tasting rooms across northern Michigan, an online store, a monthly club, a luxury inn, stables, cooking classes, and more, Black Star Farms offers wines of all varieties, ciders, brandies, dessert wines, and delicious fare. You can choose to be seated outside, overlooking the beautiful winery estate, or inside the impressive tasting room that features soaring post and beam architecture with a vaulted ceiling. Probably one of the most stunning northern Michigan wineries with a palatial red estate house, it was originally a 160-acre equestrian facility.

Guided Wine Tours

Traverse Bay Tours:

Experience Pure Michigan with a wine tour through Leelanau County by Traverse Bay Tours. Offering both private and public tours year-round, Traverse Bay Tours allows you to customize your tour by selecting wineries based on preferences and past favorites. Wine tours last about 4 hours and include water & snacks. They offer pick-up and drop-off service at local Traverse City hotels for convenience. Contact them directly for tour prices.

Grand Traverse Tours:

Cruise through wine country in style in a luxurious Mercedes Sprinter high-top limousine with Grand Traverse Tours. With over 26 years of hospitality experience, Grand Traverse Tours knows the area better than anyone and can make your wine tasting tour a memorable one. Sit back and relax while your personal chauffeur leads you through vineyard after vineyard and caters to your every need. They offer both private and public tours year-round and will meet you at your local hotel. Contact them directly for tour prices.

Old Mission Tours:

If you're looking for a more intimate, personalized wine tasting experience, consider going on an Old Mission Tour into Leelanau County wine country. Available year-round, the Leelanau 4-Hour Wine Tour allows you to customize your tour stops based on your wine preferences or lets you hand over the controls to your knowledgeable wine tour host. Either way, you'll spend the afternoon winding your way past country farms and spending time at some of the area's most lovely wineries. Your tour guide will provide insight and information into the peninsula's rich history and will delight you with stories of the booming wine business in the area. The tour is priced at $399 for up to 10 people and includes pick up and drop off at your Traverse City hotel, snacks & water, lots of photo opportunities, and a deli lunch (extra charge).

Grand Traverse Bike Tours & Suttons Bay Bikes:

Head out into northern Michigan's wine country on two wheels to experience the beauty and serenity up close and personal. Roll through the countryside amongst the vineyards and enjoy visiting the wineries on your own leisurely schedule. The Leelanau Trail easily leads you from one winery to another. Pick and choose which ones to stop at and which ones you'll put on your list for next time. The Grand Traverse Bike Tour company will pick up your wine and deliver a lunch right to you so you can enjoy a picnic overlooking the picturesque vineyards. These tours include everything you need to thoroughly enjoy an unforgettable day of meandering through Michigan's Napa Valley (includes bike & helmet, route planning advice, highlighted map, catered deli lunch, snacks & water, wine purchase pickups, roadside assistance, souvenir water bottle). Cost is $59/person.

Blue Lakes By the Bay Transportation:

Blue Lakes By the Bay is the "original" wine tour company in northern Michigan and they claim to "do it the best." Their shuttles pick up guests at all the local Traverse City hotels and head up to the peninsula to spend four hours visiting the wineries nestled in the rolling hills of Leelanau County. Join others or book your own private wine tasting tour anytime of the year, including during the beautiful winter months in Leelanau. For $59/person, your tour will include 4-5 stops at old favorites as well as new wineries to give you a little taste of everything the peninsula wine scene has to offer. Have you toured through northern Michigan's wine country? If so, what were some of your favorite stops along the way? Share with us in the comments.

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