How to put a Local Twist on a Tourist Attraction: Wine Tasting Edition

How to put a Local Twist on a Tourist Attraction: Wine Tasting Edition

Living in Northern Michigan means wine tasting is a regular occurrence. There are eight magnificent wineries on Old Mission Peninsula and 25 on Leelanau Peninsula with more cropping up all the time. That is 33 different wineries to choose from, all of which offer unique tastes on what makes northern Michigan wine great. The season of winter is a spectacular time to go wine tasting. The tasting rooms are significantly less busy, allowing for a more personalized experience. That being said, wine tasting can be experienced differently during the winter. You can go the old fashioned way, being transported by an automobile, OR you can go wine tasting the cool way; on one of the many snowshoe wine trails that have cropped up in recent years.

The fire pits at Bower's Harbor Vineyards are perfect for warming up. Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Hamilton
The fire pits at Bower’s Harbor Vineyards are perfect for warming up. Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Hamilton

Snowshoe, Wine, and Brew – Old Mission Peninsula
This event runs every Sunday, starting January 11th and ending March 1st (weather dependent, of course). Everyone meets at the Jolly Pumpkin at 10:45am and takes a shuttle (courtesy of Brew Bus) to the first destination; Brys Estate. At Brys, there will be $5 snow flights available to taste and $5 specials on glasses of wine. Then participants follow a marked, snowy path through vineyards, fields, and a short, woodsy section onto Bower’s Harbor Vineyards. Here, there will also be $5 snow flights and wine specials for just $5 per glass. Additionally, pints will be poured for $5. At Bower’s Harbor Vineyards, snowshoers can warm up inside, or enjoy their beverages outside next to one of the bonfires. Winter bonfires fill the Michigander’s soul with a magical liveliness that cannot be fulfilled in any other way. Plus, you will be all bundled up for snowshoeing anyways, you might as well stay outside. Lastly, snowshoers will trek through one more vineyard with views of west bay to end back at the Jolly Pumpkin. The brewery and restaurant will be offering $5 tastings and 10% off of lunch. And bonus! If you check-in on Facebook at each location and receive a stamp on your flier, you will receive a snowshoe souvenir glass at the end.

Trekking through the vineyards is a perfect way to spend a Sunday. Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Hamilton
Trekking through the vineyards is a perfect way to spend a Sunday. Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Hamilton

Winter Wine Trail – Leelanau Peninsula
The Leelanau Peninsula Winter Wine Trail is a little longer than the Old Mission Peninsula wine trail, which means you’ll just be spending more time enjoying the outdoor delights of northern Michigan. There are three main destinations on this tour and participants can start wherever they please. The most popular route is to start at Forty-Five North Vineyard and Winery, then trek to Blustone Vineyards, then onto Tandem Ciders, circling back to Forty-Five North at the end. This 7.5-mile hike is self-led and offers gorgeous views of vineyards, Grand Traverse Bay, and the many wonders of Leelanau County. It truly is a way of viewing portions of northern Michigan that many people don’t get the opportunity to see.

Flights at the Jolly Pumpkin are always flowing. Courtesy of Jennifer Hamilton
Flights at the Jolly Pumpkin are always flowing. Courtesy of Jennifer Hamilton

Don’t have snowshoes but think this sounds like a blast? Don’t fret! Many places in Northern Michigan have snowshoes available for rent, including Suttons Bay Bikes, Grand Traverse Cycle and Fitness, and Brick Wheels. Snowshoeing the wine trails is a perfect way to do something touristy, but with a unique local twist. The experience is breathtaking and a great way to embrace the winter weather.