Wine Tasting in a Winter Wonderland

Wineries are adapting to COVID guidelines by embracing outdoor activities, service

Dablon Vineyards erected igloos, greenhouses and an outdoor wine bar to continue serving guests while its tasting room is shut down per state COVID rules. (Photo courtesy of Dablon Vineyards)

Many Michigan wineries have turned to the outdoors to appeal to new and returning visitors as they adhere to current social distancing and ventilation guidelines in an effort to keep everyone safe from COVID-19.

Vintners such as Brys Estate Vineyard and Winery near Traverse City and Dablon Vineyards in Baroda are offering opportunities to take in the crisp, bucolic sights while enjoying a beverage or two.

At Brys Estate, visitors with their own equipment can snowshoe, cross-country ski or hike and enjoy an insulated mug of wine or Spiked Hot Apple Cider on one of the winery’s two trails or after their excursion at one of its new outdoor fire pits. The trails, which are open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. through March 6, include the casual Green Trail and the intermediate Purple Trail.

While strolling the 1-mile Green Trail, you can enjoy views of the tasting room, vineyards and farmhouse. On the 1/2-mile Purple Trail, admire wooded valleys leading to the Secret Garden’s lavender fields. And if you want something to commemorate the afternoon, Spiked Hot Apple Cider is available in a souvenir mug for $15, with refills on-site available for only $5.

A group shares wine inside an igloo at Baroda’s Dablon Vineyards. (Photo courtesy of Dablon Vineyards)

At Dablon, visitors can celebrate winter at the winery’s newly renovated outdoor patio, which features five igloos, three greenhouses and an outdoor wine bar, all of which are heated. Bill Schopf, owner of Dablon Vineyards, says the transformations have been a way to thank loyal patrons amid continued disruptions to normal operations. Guests can reserve igloos and greenhouses for an hour and a half at a time, with the cost applied to their wine purchases. Each space is cleaned, sanitized and opened for airflow between uses for maximum safety.

“Our customers have been tremendous supporters of Dablon during a challenging year, and we want to offer them a protected outdoor haven where they can enjoy their family and the fellowship of our community,” he says.

And if those options aren’t enough for you, 45 North Vineyard and Winery in Lake Leelanau, Black Star Farms in Suttons Bay, Ostego Resort in Gaylord and Rove Estate in Traverse City are also offering outdoor events and wine tastings to whet your appetite.

Visitors can snowshoe, cross-country ski or hike while enjoying wine or spiked hot apple cider at Brys Estate Vineyard and Winery. Photo courtesy of Brys Estate

Finally, the wine and brewery tour coordinator Brew Bus is offering a “Snowshoe, Wine and Brew” on Sundays until March 6. Guests are encouraged to either bring their own snowshoes or rent a pair for the day, after which they’ll start at Jolly Pumpkin’s Tasting Room on Peninsula Drive and follow a flagged snowshoe trail across the Old Mission Peninsula to Brys Estate, Bowers Harbor Vineyards and then back to Jolly Pumpkin. Tickets are $28 per person and include shuttle service and select drinks.

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