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Touring Michigan's Wine Country

As much as I love Detroit, sometimes you need to get away. You know, go on a holiday. Or, as we say here in Michigan, go up north. Last weekend, the husband and I hit the highway and went to Traverse City.

Let it be known that my husband and I haven’t had any sort of getaway or vacation together since September of 2008. Yes, this was a much needed break.

What was drawing us to the northern destination? Wine! The Leelanau Peninsula Vintner’s Association, the Traverse City Wine & Art Festival, and the Sugar Beach Resort Hotel invited us to explore and taste Michigan’s wine country.

Wine? You don’t have to twist my arm.

Traverse City reminded us of our other home, Bournemouth in England, with its beach town atmosphere and quaint shops. We checked in to Sugar Beach to find a spectacular beach, too bad the weather wasn’t on our side.

The beach at Sugar Beach Resort.

Friday afternoon found us tooling around Michigan’s wine country and visiting three wineries. I haven’t been up north in ages and had never driven through this little part of Michigan. This is the stuff in the commercials; this is Pure Michigan.

Chateau Fontaine was the first stop and certainly the friendliest. Dan Matthies and his lovable pooch greeted us as though we had known each other forever. Dan explained each wine we tasted with the love of a proud parent and even let us drive through the vineyard to witness the view of the countryside. I loved their Woodland Red but ended up buying a bottle of the very quaffable Big Paw Red, named for Dan’s previous dog, Nick.

Dan Matthies welcoming us. And above, his adorable dog.

We then headed to the sprawling winery of Black Star Farms. This place is gorgeous! Even though they were extremely busy they took us to a small tasting area off to the side to sample the vino. The raclette cheese and Isidor’s Choice Pinot Noir were both knock-your-socks-off fabulous.

The beautiful Black Star Farms.

Last on our tour was L. Mawby Vineyards; they only produce sparkling wines. Their “Sex” is a brut rose and perfect for a girl’s night out. The one that caught my eye was “Detroit.” Yes, they have a sparkling wine named after my favorite city! I bought both. I mean, how could I not?

Yeah, the husband is a goofball.

Sex and Detroit? Yes, please!

Saturday morning we took a side trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes and drove the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. If you only have a short time to spend here, I highly recommend this. A word of warning: Don’t descend the Lake Michigan bluff unless you are crazy or extremely fit. It was painful to watch others climb 450 feet back up a steep incline of sand!

The Traverse City Wine & Art Festival was the perfect concoction of music, food, art, and wine. We were able to taste many more wines, most notably from Forty-Five North, Peninsula Cellars, 2 Lads Winery, and Shady Lane Cellars.

If you’ve never toured the Michigan wineries, I highly recommend it. Overall, the wine, the beach, and the dunes were a perfect way to escape the bustle of our busy lives.

But we weren’t done yet.

On our way out of Traverse City we decided to go further north. We were so close to the Mackinac Bridge and Upper Peninsula that we had to pay them a visit. My husband had never seen the might Mac or stepped foot in the U.P. He has now!

Our first Michigan road trip has us longing to explore other parts of our beautiful state. We’ll start planning those when we uncork the wine and bubbly we brought home with us. 



Disclosure: The Leelanau Peninsula Vintner’s Association provided our tasting passes and tickets to the Traverse City Wine & Arts Festival. Sugar Beach Resort Hotel provided our two-night stay at their hotel. The views and opinions expressed on Detroit Moxie are mine and mine only.

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Reader Comments (16)

The winemaker at Black Star also makes a great pear grappa, and was awarded 5 consecutive gold medals in Europe for the best cheese in the world, I forget what kind of cheese though! Black Star is the best winery in Michigan, IMHO..

August 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterToka313


You're killing me! This post and your tweets about your trip, made me jealous, to say the least. For your next trip to sample the vino, I highly recommend visiting Brys Estates on Mission Peninsula. They do a killer Cab Franc...

August 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTodd Waller

Love the post! I remember climbing up that hill at the Sleeping Bear Dunes when I was a kid! Not sure how I ever made it to the top LOL I am tired just thinking about it. I am glad you two had a chance to get away...sounds like a great time!!!

August 25, 2010 | Unregistered Commentertina

Hey Becks - thanks for featuring our wineries and festival! It was great to have you as a guest!

The last time we were up in the Leelanau Peninsula we visited the most awesome little cidery - Tandem Ciders. It was less pretentious than some of the wineries, and the various ciders on tap were available in growlers! As craft beer drinkers, we were all over that. They also sold pickled eggs and had a dart board. Not your typical wine country tour stop.

August 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

Thanks for your visit to Northern Michigan wine country and to Black Star Farms. In response to the first comment above we do not make a pear grappa but we do make a pear eau-de-vie brandy. The cheese is made by Jon and Anne Hoyt of Leelanau Cheese Co.
We look forward to your future visits!
Coryn Briggs/Winery Promotions Coordinator/Black Star Farms

August 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCoryn Briggs

Looks like so much fun! Love the photos. Wasn't the scenic drive at Sleeping Bear Dunes so amazing?

August 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNikki Stephan

I guess it was a pear eau-de-vie brandy! :D

Sorry to make you jealous but now you're killing me! The tip on Brys Estates would have come in handy BEFORE our trip. I was on the lookout for an outstanding Cab Franc too. ;-)

Thanks! Climbing back up that hill looked like pure hell. A father & his 3 yr old went down the hill and the kiddie didn't want any part of going back up the hill. I'm assuming the father ended up having to carry her.

You're most welcome, thanks for having us. We had a ball!

Tandem Ciders sounds awesome! We would have loved that, we'll look for it next time. Thanks for the tip.

Thanks for clearing up the mistaken pear confusion! ;-) Can't wait for our next visit.

Yep, the scenic drive was fabulous. @naynadub tipped me off on that, so hat tip to her.

August 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBecks Davis

That was a really nice post!asa
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