Insider Touring Tips

Tried-and-true suggestions for an ideal wine-tasting experience

michigan wine country touring
Hiring a tour company leaves the driving and other planning to the experts. Shown here: White Pine Winery. Photo by Cortney Casey

As a tour captain for Traverse City Wine & Beer Tours, Jonathan Rose could write the book on the do’s and don’ts of tooling around Michigan Wine Country.

Rose’s No. 1 tip: “Relax, unwind and slow down.” He suggests scouring reviews and websites to select wineries ahead of time. Realistically, plan about four winery stops per day to avoid rushing and overimbibing, he says.

Bring snacks and water to intersperse with the wine

“Many people don’t do this and end up regretting it,” Rose says. “Never go on a tour with an empty stomach.”

Hiring a tour company avoids the obvious pitfall of driving under the influence, but also facilitates a thorough, stress-free visit.

“We have intimate knowledge of not only the wines, but local restaurants, breweries and scenic turnouts,” he says. “Tours give you an inside look at a region you might not be familiar with, and allow you to have a 100 percent relaxed and enjoyable experience while touring.”

Veteran Michigan winery visitors offer their own tips

“When wanting to cover a lot of ground, (it’s) best to split a tasting with a friend/loved one,” says Lauren Belles of Brighton. “That way, you pace yourself and get exposed to more.”

Grosse Pointe Woods’ Laurie Rivetto suggests going in the off-season when wineries are less crowded. LeeAnne Dunn of Macomb says she maxes out at four to five wineries per day, “as it seems your taste buds can’t differentiate subtleties after that.”

Royal Oak’s Jenny Wolff  likes to hit two wineries before lunch, then two to three afterward, with 45-60 minutes per stop.

“We like to linger at our favorites for a little bit,” she says, “especially at wineries with a view or patio.”

Lincoln Park resident Linda Glotfelty urges manners and moderation, noting, “Don’t confuse ‘wine tasting’ with ‘pub crawl!’ ”

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

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