Raise a glass to Traverse City wines - and particularly in May, when doing so comes with fun prizes and discounts! Download the digital passport to participate in Traverse City Uncorked, a month-long celebration of Michigan wines. Check in at wineries, or stay with select accommodations, to win exciting prizes, all for drinking great local wine. 

Before you head out, read our tips to make sure you have a great tasting experience:

Make a Game Plan 

A successful wine-tasting experience starts before you even arrive. With ten wineries on the Old Mission Peninsula alone, not counting the tasting rooms throughout the town and in the neighboring Leelanau county, it’s simply not possible, nor desirable, to hit them all up in a day. Palette fatigue starts to set in after a couple of tasting sessions. Thoroughly enjoy each visit by planning on no more than three wineries per day, with plenty of time for small bites and lunch along the way.

Look for Fun Events to Upgrade Your Experience

With fewer wineries and more time, capitalize on your experience with events and unique excursions! Wineries have busy schedules to keep the vinifera-enthused on their toes. Whether it’s a tour of the production facility, tickets for a wine pairing dinner, or even just enjoying some live music during a tasting, events make for a richer experience, guided by connection beyond taste.

Bring (or Book) a Designated Driver

Up North, wineries are often situated between incredible landscapes, which means you can count on plenty of rolling hills and curvy roads. Make sure someone in your group is the designated driver and able to navigate the journey safely. If there’s no one willing to miss out on the wine, hire a bus or private driver to help make it to your destination. 

Wine Tasting at Black Star Farms

Employ Basic Wine Tasting Etiquette

Basic wine-tasting etiquette will make your experience, and that of those around you, more enjoyable! For example, hold a wine glass by the stem to keep the wine at the suggested tasting temperature. Don’t feel pressured to finish a glass, even if preferential to the wine - ‘dumping’ is not out of place in a wine-tasting session. Another note: avoid wearing strong fragrances... Gewurztraminer is less delicious enhanced by the sandalwood scent on your wrist or a minty aftershave! 

Ask Questions

Tasting room staff are armed with knowledge, and not just about wine! Be sure to ask about the growing practices of the winery’s vineyards, which allows you to learn about how good farming leads to good vines, which leads to good bottles! Wine is an expression of place. Each winery is marked by its microclimates created in the valleys and hills of their vineyards. Ask if there is a particular bottle to try that may see the winery in a whole new light, based on terroir!

Try the Hits - but Keep Your Mind Open

Here in the Leelanau and Old Mission American Viticultural Areas (AVAs), we’re well-known to have a fantastic array of Rieslings, from dry sparkling to late harvest. Make sure to try a few different glasses while in the area, as well as the more common Pinot Blanc or Chardonnay. That being said, there are some rising star varietals in the region, such as Gamay Noir. Your next Michigan favorite might even be a blend that’s unique to the winery. If you love it, buy a bottle to take home for the memories. 


Now that you’re well-prepared for a wine-tasting experience, start planning your trip!