Traverse City, Michigan
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Indulging the Senses
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Indulging the Senses

Finding a little adventure in the charming town of Traverse City, Michigan

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Sometimes my husband, Richard, and I are asked why we go back to the same place again and again. The answer: 54.

Traverse City, Michigan has become our favorite repeat destination in no small part because of an astounding 54 wineries. No two visits are ever the same. Each of the wineries we’ve touched so far has stood on its own as a worthy attraction, and shown us a different side of the gorgeous town.

Explore all 54 Wineries

The Leelanau and Old Mission Peninsulas both stretch out into the deep blue waters of Lake Michigan, making the area one of the most scenic places to find rest and rejuvenation—and for enjoying award-winning wines.

Wineries in Traverse City are a feast for the senses—seeing rolling hills of Cherry Trees and the shoreline of Lake Michigan, hearing wind blowing through trees with changing leaves, smelling and tasting aromatic whites and reds. I couldn’t wait to discover it again.

Explore all 54 Wineries

See and smell

The sleek black Mercedes town car and the A-List treatment we received made us feel like VIPs.

Savor the scent and flavor of wine on a wine tour in Traverse City, Michigan

It was a sunny afternoon when our tour guide picked us up in style. The sleek black Mercedes town car and the A-List treatment we received (like refreshments and a tailor-made playlist) made us feel like VIPs. We rolled the windows down to feel the breeze, looking at the sky—a clear, brilliant blue—and the sun-drenched, rolling hills covered with cherry trees set against the shimmering backdrop of the lake.

The sleek black Mercedes town car and the A-List treatment we received made us feel like VIPs.

Savor the scent and flavor of wine on a wine tour in Traverse City, Michigan

“Smile,” our guide said as she took a picture of Richard and me at our first stop, Bel Lago. Facing the ranch-style tasting room, we posed in front of Lake Leelanau, the sun glinting off its ripples behind us. She didn’t need to tell us to smile—we couldn’t help ourselves.

Inside the bright and spacious tasting room, we stepped up to the cool blue, tiled bar and sampled a variety of wines, from sweet Pinot Grigio to the driest red. The one that struck my fancy was Bel Lago’s 2010 Pinot Noir. Richard and I lifted our glasses, swirled the wine, inhaled its scent and took a satisfying sip. First came notes of spice, followed by a bit of oak and some fruitiness. Perfect. We picked up a bottle to bring home with us, already knowing it would pair well with a deliciously rich, aged Gruyere or a bite of bittersweet dark chocolate for dessert.

Listen and feel

The 45th parallel creates ideal conditions for wine in Traverse City, Michigan

A waiter uncorked a bottle of wine with a distinct pop. “And that’s one of my favorite sounds,” Richard laughed.

Richard let out a contented sigh as we relaxed on the patio of our next stop, Black Star Farms at Suttons Bay. The sweeping pastoral views, along with the vineyard’s atmosphere of modern luxury, provided the perfect feeling of calm retreat. I felt a little spoiled at this vast estate. White columns stood in striking contrast to the brick red building, which stood behind a prominently displayed American flag. It seemed fit for someone with the last name Astor or Vanderbilt.

The 45th parallel creates ideal conditions for wine in Traverse City, Michigan

A waiter uncorked a bottle of wine with a distinct pop. “And that’s one of my favorite sounds,” Richard laughed.

Richard squeezed my hand, and we both enjoyed the near silence. There was distant clopping and chatter of horses at the stables. “That’s one of my favorite sounds in the world,” I said.

From beside a nearby table, a waiter uncorked a bottle of wine with a distinct pop. “And that’s one of my favorite sounds,” Richard said laughing as he took a sip of the Arcturos Dry Riesling. This wine, one of Black Star Farms’ three special labels, won a Double Gold at the Eastern International Wine Competition. With notes of apple and the most delightful acidity, Richard and I could taste why.

Taste

Learn secrets of the trade on a wine tour in Traverse City, Michigan

Our guide suggested our final stop, Chateau Grand Traverse. From the moment she mentioned that it was the first winery in Traverse City, Richard and I knew it was a must-see. In contrast to its history, the facility looked brand new. The closely trimmed lawn and well-groomed shrubbery complemented the clean lines of the winery’s grey, red and bare-wood facade. The tasting room inside matched the contemporary feel in an elegant, welcoming way. Still family-owned and operated, the gracious staff were the perfect hosts, helping us relax on the outdoor deck under an umbrella with tastes of five of their signature wines.

Learn secrets of the trade on a wine tour in Traverse City, Michigan

We settled in to enjoy the up-close view of their oldest vineyard, planted more than 40 years ago with glasses of their 2012 Cabernet Franc Reserve. I took a slow sip, savoring the earthy, peppery flavors, and could vividly imagine the excitement and pride the owners must have felt at the first harvesting of grapes.

That intangible something

Experience the senses of Traverse City wineries

A still and peaceful quiet settled over us as the sky filled with gorgeous colors. Serenity, in every sense of the word—we had found it. It was an indulgence to unwind and enjoy Traverse City’s wine country that, yet again, went far beyond our expectations. From the delicious, aromatic wines to the sounds of nature and laughter and the kindness of our tour guide who arranged every detail (even emailing us all of the photos she took from the day), the afternoon came together to create a delightful and sensory-filled ambiance that left me feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and most of all enchanted. Our tradition of taking this getaway was reinforced, and I couldn’t wait for next time around.