With scenic views and a variety of wines, the Old Mission Peninsula Wineries are a gem of Michigan. With nine wineries stretching across the peninsula and views of the bay that just cannot beat, this is a hot spot for wine lovers like me.
I am pretty sure I found my dream job. Professional wine taster. That is a thing right? Regardless, I am all in. After travelling up north to the Old Mission Peninsula Wineries in Michigan, I am pretty sure I found my life’s calling. Sipping wine while looking out over the vineyards at views of Grand Traverse Bay? Don’t mind if I do. Although, I feel like there is probably a bit more into the profession of wine tasting than just sipping wines and calling it a day.
Last week I shared about my family vacation up north to the Petoskey/ Harbor Springs area, with a day trip to Traverse City. But since the post was already way longer than expected, I decided to share our winery trip (part of our day trip to Traverse City) in one separate post. That way I could share more about each winery and the different wines I have tasted. It was my first time doing a winery tour like this and I am already ready to go again. We saw a few bachelorette parties going through the wine tour and I officially decided that that is how I am going to be having my bachelorette party — a weekend of sipping wine and travelling through the peninsula with my closest gal pals. Yup, it’s already planned 😉
As I mentioned in last week’s post, there are two peninsulas jetting out from Traverse City – one is the Old Mission Peninsula and the other is the Leelanau Peninsula, and both are filled with wineries and vineyards. With either peninsula, you can drive up the peninsula and visit various wineries along the way. We traveled along the Old Mission Peninsula which has 9 wineries and we visited 5 of them. I broke down each one with a little about it, some pictures I took from it, and the wines I tasted.
Fun fact: Madonna’s dad owns a winery on the Leelanau Peninsula called Ciccone Vineyard & Winery. We did not visit that one, but it is pretty cool that her dad owns one there!
2 Lads Winery
2 Lads Winery was our first stop in the Old Mission Peninsula – we went all the way north in the peninsula to start and made our way back down. 2 Lads Winery was very modern and had a whole different look to it than any of the other wineries we visited. This winery was probably the longest wait we had (about 15 minutes), but the view from inside the winery was spectacular and there was a gift shop, so the time passed quickly.
The wine tasting featured wines off of the classic wines and we were able to sample 5 wines for $5. I split a wine tasting with my two brothers and my parents split one between the two of them.
- 2014 Pinot Grigio
I love Pinot Grigio so I knew I would love this one, and I did.
- 2015 Riesling
My brother loves Riesling so he wanted that a part of our tasting and I realized that I really love it too (and ended up getting it at the rest of the wineries that offered it!). This one was definitely my favorite of the 2 Lads Winery.
- 2014 Vortex Rose
I wanted to love this one since it was fruity and I usually love fruity wines, but I just was not a fan of this one.
- 2014 Pinot Noir
I am not a big red wine drinker so I had a feeling this one would not be my favorite, and it was not.
- 2013 Cabernet Franc
I did not think I would like this one, but surprisingly did. Hey, that’s one red wine I apparently like!
Chateau Chantel was a gorgeous winery (but weren’t they all?!) and I loved the outdoor seating area. It definitely reminded me of what you think of when you think of a winery. You had the option to get a glass of wine or a flight of wine and sit out on the patio, or do the wine tasting, so we chose the wine tasting. We got 6 tastings of wine for $3, we each got our own sampling so we could try what we each wanted from the huge list of options.
- 2014 Pinot Grigio
I knew I was going to love this wine and I certainly did. Love a good Pinot!
- Naughty Apple Michigan Hard Cider
This apple cider was served chilled and was delicious. I love hard ciders and this one certainly did not disappoint. Made from golden delicious and gala apples it had a great flavor.
- 2014 Semi- Dry Riesling
There were a few different options for riesling and I kind of just chose a random one to go for. I really liked and could taste the pear, green apple, lime, grapefruit, and honeysuckle in it. While I don’t normally go for dry wines, this was delicious,
- Cherry Wine
I was hoping I would like cherry wine just because I was in Traverse City, aka the best place for cherries in the summer, but I just was not a fan of it. It felt a bit too spicy for me — not hot spicy, just a lot of spices to it. It was strong in cinnamon, which I normally love (I seriously use cinnamon like its going out of style), but just did not like the cherry wine.
- Bubbly Cherry (Sparkling)
While I did not like the cherry wine, I loved this sparkling sweet wine. It was delicious and when the lady serving our wine said it would pair perfectly with popcorn, I immediately agreed. Give me a glass (or two!) of the wine and a big bowl of popcorn and I would be a happy girl!
- Beguile (Sparkling)
I really enjoy sparkling wines so I took advantage of having the opportunity to try them at the winery, so I had two. It was described to be like Moscato (my FAVORITE wine) so I had to have it. It was sweet and fruity and so good. A mix of Riseling (60%) and Chardonnay (40%)
Bower’s Harbor Vineyards
Bower’s Harbor was our next stop and it was beautiful. It was small, but there was a ton of outdoor seating among the vineyards. We went inside but it was really loud, so when we spotted wine sampling outside at bar we headed over. It was much nicer outside with live music and a beautiful view. We were able to sample 5 wines and got to keep our wine glass too. I can’t remember the price of the tasting, but I am pretty sure it was $5, which was a great deal for the wine glass too.
- 2015 Pinot Grigio
Not only was this one the winery’s #1 seller, but it was Pinot Grigio, so I had to have it. It lived up the hype and was delicious with a citrus flavor.
- 2015 Riesling, Medium Sweet
Really enjoyed this wine and realized I definitely have a thing for Riesling wines!
- 2015 Cooper
I knew I had to try a sweet white wine (I ended up trying two), so when I saw this wine had flavors of mango, dragon fruit, and ripe melon, I had to try it. It was tasty and I was a fan of it.
- 2015 Riesling, Sweet Reserve
This was the second sweet white wine and was great. Of course, another Riesling 😉
- Ice Cider
This was an apple wine and I wanted to try it just to try it. It was really, really sweet and I was not a fan, but if you love sweet dessert wines this would be for you!
Hawthorne Vineyards was the most hidden away winery, but it was described as having beautiful views so we tracked it down and went. It is a newer winery and we were the only people there, so that was pretty cool. When we got there and walked in, one window had a view of West Grand Traverse Bay and the other window had a view of East Grand Traverse Bay. Absolutely beautiful views. For $3, we were able to have 5 tastes and for $2 extra we were able to keep our wine glasses. (Yes, we went home with a bunch of new wine glasses haha)
- 2013 Barrel Reserve Chardonnay
When I saw this wine was award winning (gold medal at the L.A. Wine Competition), I knew I had to try it. With flavors of pineapple, green apple, and lemon it was so good.
- 2015 Pinot Grigio
Surprised? Of course I liked it 😉
- 2013 Rose
Rose is an interesting wine to me, I can’t tell whether I like it or not. I think it is a wine that I like in a specialty drink, like a fruity sangria. I like it when it is mixed in with fruit and such I guess. This rose was fruity and aromas of strawberry and watermelon and a smooth texture. Definitely a summer sip.
Another award winning wine and when I saw the description I thought it would be delicious — a sweet blend of Riseling, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Grigio expressing an aromatic floral bouqet and luscious mouthfeel. Riesling provides a floral note, Pinot Grigio adding a fruity character, and Pinot Blanc bringing in a balanced structure. <— Yes to all of that haha. It lived up to its name – delish.
- Cherry Splendor
I wanted to give cherry wine another shot, but I still wasn’t feeling it. A bit too strong for my liking, but hey, I gave it a few shots to see if I liked it.
Mari Vineyards was the last winery on our visit (we were ready for dinner at that point), but it was stunning. As soon as you drove in, you felt like you were transported into Tuscany. Absolutely beautiful views and a winery where I could easily spend an evening outside sipping wine watching the sunset. The inside was beautiful as well and we learned that the winery had only been open for 2 months! At that point I did not want a whole wine tasting to myself, so my brothers and I split one and my parents split one. We sampled 5 for $7. There were only 7 on the menu, so we found the two we were not that interested in and had the rest instead.
- 2013 Sezession
This was the only sparkling wine and as a lover of sparkling wine, I wanted to try it. There was something to different to it (I can’t remember what it was now haha), but it definitely tasted a bit different from your typical sparkling wine, but it was good.
- Pinot Grigio
Originally for white wines, just a Chardonnay was on the menu, but it was sold out so they offered a Pinot Grigio instead — fine by me!
- 2012 Cabernet Franc
The rest of the wines we sampled were red wines, so I was not expecting to like them, but was pleasantly surprised enjoying them all. This Cabernet Franc was an easy to drink red wine.
- 2011 Row 7 (Cabernet Franc + Merlot)
We were going to sample a different wine, but they lady serving us told us we had to try the Row 7 during our sampling so we listened and had it. It was a blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot and very good,
- 2011 Ultima Thule
I did not expect to like this one, but ended up really liking it. The grapes are grown all the way at the northernmost tip of Old Mission Peninsula in, what was described to us as covered vineyards, which is an exclusive technique to the winery.
Winery Tour Tips
- Pack snacks and water
The fun thing about visiting a bunch of wineries is that you hop in your car and drive to each one. This also makes for the perfect time to have a snack and drink some water. My parents had done these winery visits before and mentioned how much better they felt being prepared and having snacks along the way. We packed crackers, cheese, grapes, popcorn, and water, which were perfect to eat in the car and tide us over. Most of the wineries did offer food, but if you are not planning on staying at the winery long enough to eat the food or want to save some money, packing them ahead of time always helps.
- Expect a line during the summer
Summertime in Michigan is the best. No doubt about it. Everyone is up north taking advantage of the summer, but you know what that means – the wineries are full of people! While I never felt like the wineries were crowded, there was often a line for the tasting (except for at Hawthorne). We never waited more than 10 or 15 minutes so it was not a big deal for us, especially since we were not on a time crunch, but if you are — expect lines.
- Try something new
I love wine, but prior to going on this winery trip, I had my favorites and stuck to those all the time. I wanted to branch out during the wine tastings and try some new-to-me wines. Since we were only sampling a small amount of wine and I was not committing to a full glass, I decided tat it was the perfect time to really figure out what wines I like and which I don’t. At most of the wineries, they gave you a paper menu to check off each wine you wanted to sample, after each sample I would put a smiley face if I liked it, a straight face if it was okay, and a frown if I did not like it (smart logic right?). Now I know more wines that I do actually enjoy and which ones I don’t. Plus those paper menus helped me tremendously in remembering what wines I tried for writing this post 😉
- Have you ever been to a wine tasting?
- What is your favorite wine?