Happy Trails

Local charm defines Michigan’s wine regions

Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula
A vineyard stroll on the Old Mission Peninsula. Photo courtesy of Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula

Michigan’s wine trails offer a number of wineries all in one concentrated area — each with its own appeal and charm.

Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail

Rural charm is abundant in this southwestern Michigan region. Home to nearly two dozen wineries, it’s just a short drive to quaint, scenic harbor towns. Many of the winery owners here are the farmers themselves, working the land and harvesting the grapes that ultimately go in the bottle. Vinifera like Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and Riesling share space with hybrids like Vidal Blanc here.

Leelanau Peninsula

With more than two dozen wineries, this star-studded trail in northwestern Lower Michigan is perfect for a weekend or even weeklong getaway. Its members range from high-production facilities to tiny, boutique wineries, with offerings running the gamut from dry to sweet and plentiful red, white, rosé, still and sparkling options available. The trail is divided into three loops — Northern, Sleeping Bear and Grand Traverse — for easy trip planning.

leelanau wine trail
Vineyards give way to stunning views on the Leelanau Wine Trail Photo courtesy of Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail

Old Mission Peninsula

OMP may be smaller than Leelanau Peninsula to the west, but it plays second fiddle to no one. At just under a dozen wineries, this picturesque area offers dazzling views of West and East Grand Traverse bays and lush, rolling vineyards. Many of the wineries have patios that take advantage of the scenery, and offer wine by the glass and small bites. As on Leelanau, vinifera grapes are particularly plentiful here.

Petoskey Wine Region (formerly Bay View Wine Trail)

More often than not, you’ll find the owners slinging wine behind the bar in this newer wine region, known for its abundance of hybrid grapes like Marquette and Frontenac and its small-town charm and hospitality. About a dozen wineries (and counting) line this trail, with several also offering beer. This area also is home to Michigan’s newest American Viticultural Area, Tip of the Mitt.

Pioneer Wine Trail

One of Michigan’s best-kept secrets, the Jackson/Ann Arbor area boasts a handful of wineries that make for a great day trip from metro Detroit. The Pioneer wineries represent a variety of ambiances, from secluded farmland to urban appeal, and offer a diverse lineup of vinifera, hybrids, reds, whites, ciders, beer and more.

Burgdorf’s Winery
Burgdorf’s Winery in the Pioneer Wine Trail. Photo courtesy of Burgdorf’s Winery

Sunrise Side Wine & Hops Trail

Located on the state’s northeast side, the Sunrise Side trail features about a dozen drinking destinations — wineries and breweries — along an elliptical-shaped route from Alpena to Standish. Incorporated into the trail are other attractions like casinos, eateries, campgrounds, cultural exhibits, historical landmarks and more.

Thumbs Up Wine Trail

Nestled close to metro Detroit, this trail aims to promote tourism in Michigan’s Thumb region. Its dozen wineries offer a mix of urban and rural vibes. Some are nestled among orchards and vineyards; others are located on bustling downtown streets. Fruit wines, ciders and unique blends are particularly abundant here.

This article originally appeared in the 2019 Michigan Wine Country magazine.

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