Stay in the Heart of Michigan Wine Country

Lodging at wineries provides the ‘best way to experience’ the state’s wine scene
The Inn at Black Star Farms. Photo courtesy of Black Star Farms

If you’re looking to immerse yourself in Michigan wine country, booking a stay at one of the wineries in the state that offer lodging is the way to go. Around the state, guests can experience warm hospitality just a stone’s throw from a tasting room.

Guest accommodations range from rooms to suites to farmhouses and offer various amenities.

At the Inn at Black Star Farms in Suttons Bay, 10 rooms — including two suites — are available for guests in the main building. Inn guests receive a bottle of wine, a daily breakfast prepared by Black Star Farms’ chef, and a glass or flight of wine in the tasting room. Each night, the Pegasus Lounge hosts a hospitality hour with complimentary wine tasting and small bites.

Those who stay at the inn also have the option to add on a variety of packages that change with the seasons. The Outdoor Adventure Package and Leelanau Wine Trail Bike Tour Package will continue through the fall, each providing guests the opportunity to sightsee by bike.

The Mira guest room at the Inn at Black Star Farms. Photo courtesy of Black Star Farms

In the upcoming winter season, the Outdoor Adventure Package will transition into the Winter Adventure Package, which allows guests to try their hand at fat-tire biking and snowshoeing.

The Ultimate Experience Package is also popular in the winter, according to Inn Manager David Avis. The two-day package includes a guided trail hike or snowshoe, a vineyard and winery tour, wine tasting, a cooking class, and a private three-course dinner.

There’s even more to experience throughout the surrounding region beyond the winery’s property.

“The area itself includes a lot of really underrated kinds of activities,” Avis says. “We try to capitalize on that as much as we can. And we do have quite a few guests who specifically will come here in the winter just for those kinds of things, and they avoid the busyness of the summertime.”

But it’s not just the activities that bring returning guests back again and again in the offseason.

The bar in Black Star Farms’ Pegasus Lounge, where hospitality hour takes place. Photo courtesy of Black Star Farms

“It’s a very cozy atmosphere,” Avis says. “One thing that guests have said that they like about the winter is it feels warm — it feels like you’re staying at a friend’s house.”

Another benefit of booking a stay in winter is that there’s more availability. Avis notes that some weekends in the summer must be booked a year or more in advance, but in the winter, it’s often possible to find last-minute reservations, even on the weekends. Plus, rates are typically lower.

“The rates tend to drop pretty drastically in the wintertime, which makes it a lot easier for guests to just decide last-minute that they want to stay for a couple days next week or the week after,” he says.

Black Star Farms’ availability is limited through the fall, but there are still some rooms open on select dates. Rates range from about $390 to $650 per night in the summer and fall and about $275 to $465 per night in the winter.

Similar accommodations can be found on the Old Mission Peninsula at Chateau Chantal and Chateau Grand Traverse, which each offer several guest rooms. Chateau Grand Traverse has six rooms, along with a living room, community room, exercise room, and wraparound porch. Chateau Chantal, voted the best wine country hotel for the second straight year in USA Today’s readers’ choice poll, has 12 rooms to choose from at its bed-and-breakfast.

Aurora Cellars’ farmhouse. Photo by Meg Simpson Photography

Vino Vacation
Other options for winery visitors include vacation rentals. In Lake Leelanau, Aurora Cellars has a three-bedroom Victorian farmhouse that guests can rent year-round.

“It’s right on the estate ground property, so the setting is absolutely gorgeous and just a few steps away from the tasting room,” says Kristi Brown, events manager at Aurora Cellars.

Guests staying at the farmhouse can take advantage of a range of services and add-on experiences: an in-home private dinner prepared by a local chef, Wine and Winter Wonderland snowshoeing, a virtual cooking class, an art studio, private yoga lessons, massages, and sleigh rides.

Visitors will find plenty to do even in the quieter winter months.

The living room at Aurora Cellars’ farmhouse. Photo by Meg Simpson Photography

“For the fall color season, it’s a wonderful spot,” Brown says. “And … if they love the outdoors in the winter, we have a fire pit area, so they can still enjoy the outdoor space and do some hiking and winter activities as well.”

Reservations at the farmhouse are available during the week throughout the year and on weekends late October through mid-May. Current rates are $400–$600 per night, plus a service and cleaning fee, with a two-night minimum stay. Those interested can book their reservation through Airbnb.

On the southwest side of the state, Moersch Hospitality Group, the parent company of Round Barn, Tabor Hill Winery & Restaurant, and Free Run Cellars, hosts two vacation homes on Airbnb. The Estate House, which accommodates eight guests, is a short walk from Round Barn’s tasting room, and the Chateau Five Corners, which accommodates up to six guests, is centrally located between several of Moersch Hospitality’s properties.

The view from the Estate House balcony, just a few steps from the Round Barn tasting room. Photo courtesy of Moersch Hospitality Group

“Those offer you an incredible opportunity to really stay in the heart of Michigan wine country, surrounded by vineyards, and they’re truly beautiful escapes … from the everyday,” says Meagan Veldman, public relations specialist at Moersch Hospitality.

Veldman says the colder months are a special time to visit the properties.

“Fall is really the best time to visit any winery — you’re there during harvest, the leaves are changing, and it’s just absolutely stunning,” she says. “It feels like it’s out of a postcard.

The Chateau Five Corners kitchen. Photo courtesy of Moersch Hospitality Group

“And then in the winter, we really embrace the whole magic of the season, and we at Round Barn will be setting up our Winter Village, which includes our igloos, [and] we have fire pits out there, and it’s just a really fun experience.”

The start of autumn also means special pricing, beginning at $300 per night (plus a service and cleaning fee) for the Estate House and $200 per night for the Chateau Five Corners. Both houses have a two-night minimum stay length.

Under the Stars
There are other ways to spend the night in Michigan wine country, too. While Cellar 1914 in Central Lake has two farmhouses listed on Airbnb ($150–$200 per night for each, plus a cleaning and service fee), it also partners with Harvest Hosts, which is a program where members can camp in their RVs at more than 4,000 locations across the country without paying a fee. The only requirement is to patronize the winery while you’re there. Cellar 1914 also uses Tentrr to rent out a canvas tent for camping on the site.

From Cellar 1914’s Vineyard View Farmhouse, guests can see East Grand Traverse Bay. Photo courtesy of Cellar 1914

Rob Shooks, partner at Cellar 1914, names the view as a main draw for guests who stay on the property.

“We have a beautiful sunset at our location,” he says. “It’s overlooking Grand Traverse Bay. You can see all the way to the Leelanau Peninsula — you can see all the way to Northport out there.”

Brys Estate’s guesthouse has similarly spectacular views — both of vineyards and East Grand Traverse Bay. Each stay includes a complimentary bottle of wine, wine flight, and charcuterie board, as well as a free ice cream cup per guest. The two-bedroom house closes in the winter and is quickly booking up for 2023. Here — like at many of the places to stay — it’s best to plan ahead and make reservations early.

All in all, no matter which kind of accommodations you choose, lodging at a winery allows you to experience all of what Michigan’s wine scene has to offer.

“We love when people come and they stay on our properties,” Veldman says. “It’s the best way to experience Michigan wine country.”

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