Traverse City is widely known for its cherries and is the host of the annual National Cherry Festival. However, you might not realize how many wineries are in Traverse City. Among the nearly 150 wineries in Michigan, about 40 of those wineries are located in the region. Dubbed the Traverse Wine Coast, the area rests on the same 45th parallel as many areas in Europe that grow wine grapes. As a result, Traverse City wineries grow similar grape varieties.
While you can simply order or purchase some of the wines that these wineries make from stores, visiting them gives you an entirely different perspective. You can easily turn a day trip into a wine-tasting tour by planning your route and how many wineries you should visit. If you’re driving, only stop by three or four because you need to consider safety first. We’ve put together a list of great and one-of-a-kind wineries that are open in Traverse City for wine tastings and tours.
Unique Traverse City Wineries & Vineyards
Rove Estate Vineyard & Winery
Sitting at an elevation of 1,165 feet, Rove Estate Vineyard & Winery is in the perfect location for making award-winning wines. This family-owned, Traverse City vineyard uses its own grapes, and you can enjoy wine tastings on its deck with a beautiful view of the surrounding landscape. It offers small plates and live music either on the patio in the summer or around a fire pit in the winter.
Left Foot Charley
At The Village at Grand Traverse Commons, Left Foot Charley is a collaboration of apple and grape growers rather than a single vineyard estate. The growers are located throughout Northern Michigan, providing diverse flavors from various microclimates and soil types. Left Foot Charley makes the ciders and wines at its facility in Traverse City. As the only urban winery in the region, it offers wine tastings by the glass and flight. Enhanced experiences are offered in the barrel room. Since it’s at The Village, you have the opportunity to go shopping or hiking around the grounds too.
In 1999, Mari Vineyards planted its first vineyard on Old Mission Peninsula. Since then, it has grown to cover more than 60 acres of land and continues to expand. The Traverse City vineyard has a tasting room with several wine-tasting options. It offers walking tours that take you through the tasting room, production facility, and wine caves where the vineyard ages its wine in barrels. Private tastings and tours include the full experience and take about 90 minutes.
Nestled in a ridge on Old Mission Peninsula, Hawthorne Vineyards was founded with a passion for wine and sharing its virtues. The family believes in incorporating wine into daily life. As one of the most secluded Traverse City vineyards, it has views of nature all around. Although modest, the tasting room is a wonderful space for tastings by the glass and flight. There’s private space on the property for tastings as well.
One of the best Northern Michigan vineyards for relaxing with a sip of wine is Bonobo Winery. This premier Traverse City winery was founded by two brothers with a mission to create world-class wines and offer them in an elegant but rustic atmosphere. You can choose from a few different VIP experiences. The food and wine pairing experience includes three small plates and three wines. The winery tour offers a guided tour of the vineyards and facility, and the private tasting offers guided wine tastings.
Chateau Grand Traverse Winery
As one of the few Traverse City wineries with lodging, Chateau Grand Traverse Winery offers a unique experience. This distinguished winery is known for its chardonnay, riesling, merlot, and other wines, which are made with its own grapes. Wine tastings include up to five pours of currently available wines. You can enjoy glasses, flights, ciders, small bites, and more on the patio. Tours of the state-of-the-art facilities and wine cellar take about 30 minutes. The inn is located next door and offers a secluded atmosphere and dining services.
Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery
Stretching across 111 acres, Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery started as an old 1890s homestead with 80 acres of farmland. With the desire to make wine, the Brys family transformed it into an estate with rolling vineyards. You can enjoy wine flights, glasses, frozen rose wine, and charcuterie boards with cheese on the patio and upper deck. From the upper deck, you can see the vineyard and East Grand Traverse Bay. The Traverse City winery also has a lawn bar, secret garden, and 1,100 sqft. guesthouse with two bedrooms if you want to stay the night.
Bowers Harbor Vineyards
Established in 1991, Bowers Harbor Vineyards was originally an equestrian farm but now has 20 acres of wine-producing grapevines. There’s an extensive variety of wines to taste by the glass or flight, which you can enjoy on the patio, tables by the vines, pavilion, or fire pit. You can book private group tastings, hard cider and wine tastings, and summer and fall vineyard tours too. There’s even a self-guided interpretive nature trail in Traverse City.
Since 1986, Chateau Chantal has been growing wine grapes on 65 acres that were once planted with cherries. You can get glasses and flights of wine, which include three pours, or purchase bottles to take home. While you drink on the patio, terrace, or inside, you can choose prepackaged foods from the deli cooler. The winery offers wine dinners, cellar tours, and VIP tour experiences as well. You can even walk Founders’ Trail, which honors the founders of the venue. Also, it’s one of the few Traverse City wineries with lodging in a relaxing, rural environment.
2 Lads Winery
Opened in 2008, 2 Lads Winery is the first ultramodern architecture winery in Michigan. It features a multilevel, 10,500-square-foot facility on 58 acres, and 23 acres are used for three separate Traverse City vineyards. The winery specializes in making cool-climate sparkling and red wines. You can enjoy some of them in the tasting room, which overlooks the vineyards and East Grand Traverse Bay.
More Vineyards & Wineries Near Traverse City
Shady Lane Cellars
Near the southern end of Leelanau Peninsula, Shady Lane Cellars is a historic, boutique estate in Suttons Bay that offers the chance to experience more than wine. While you can enjoy its handcrafted wines in the pavilion and tasting room all year, the winery hosts many local events, including wine pairing dinners, live music, and private events. Since it borders the Traverse Area Recreational Trail, you have easy access to biking or walking during your visit.
MAWBY Vineyards and Winery
Founded in 1973, MAWBY Vineyards and Winery in Suttons Bay is one of the oldest Traverse City vineyards on the Leelanau Peninsula. While respecting the land, the winery specializes in making sparkling wines but makes ciders too. Rather than add carbonation, all of its sparkling beverages go through fermentation twice in order to produce a natural effervescence. You can have a glass or flight of wine in the tasting room and take home a commemorative glass.
Black Star Farms Suttons Bay
With 160 acres, Black Star Farms Suttons Bay is a family-owned estate on Leelanau Peninsula. The hillside vineyard was founded in 1998 and makes award-winning wines. The property has multiple tasting bars and a terrace patio. There’s also a farm-to-table cafe, distillery, hiking trails, and equestrian facility. If you want to stay the night, the luxury inn is very welcoming and includes discounts for the tasting room.
Black Star Farms opened a second location on Old Mission Peninsula in 2007. Along with a state-of-the-art wine-processing facility, it has an intimate tasting room with a farmstead setting and panoramic views.
45 North Vineyard & Winery
In Lake Leelanau, 45 North Vineyard & Winery is one of the best Traverse City wineries Leelanau Peninsula is home to. It was established in 2006, extends for 35 acres, and uses grapes from the estate and other vineyards in the region to make handcrafted, elegant wines. The tasting room sits next to the vineyard in a barn that radiates character and warmth. It features a bar, fireplace, deck, and boccie ball. Winery tours offer an in-depth experience with an educational tasting during the summer. Additionally, you can explore the scenic, 3-mile 45 North Vineyard Trail.
Good Harbor Vineyards
In 1980, Good Harbor Vineyards became the fourth winery on Leelanau Peninsula. It was established in Lake Leelanau near the Lake Michigan shoreline with the intention of making affordable, quality wines that everyone can enjoy. In the tasting room, you can get five samples of wine for a small fee. On the patio, you can have a glass of wine or a pint of cider. Food is available to purchase as well.
Tours of Traverse City Wineries
If you want to play it safe, you don’t have to drive to Traverse City vineyards and wineries yourself. Instead, you can book join-in or private winery tours with several operators in the area.
Traverse City Wine & Beer Tours
With Traverse City Wine & Beer Tours, you can hop into a sleek car, trolley, or bus for a private or join-in tour. It offers tours to wineries and vineyards on Old Mission Peninsula and Leelanau Peninsula. Depending on your selection, you’ll get to try various wines, beers, and spirits.
Old Mission Tours
Offering various Traverse City wine tours, Old Mission Tours can take you to Old Mission Peninsula, Leelanau Peninsula, or anywhere else in Michigan. It offers standard and urban beer and wine tours as well as private tours for events.
Wine Country Limo & Trolley Tours
Providing scenic tours of local attractions and wineries, Wine Country Limo & Trolley Tours drives limo coaches for small groups and a 24-passenger trolley for large groups. Along with private tours, it has half-day and full-day tours to several wineries. However, the unique aspect is that this company also owns a vineyard for which guided luxury tours are available.
Other Things to Do in Traverse City
Visiting the many Traverse City wineries can really keep you busy, and if you come at the right time, you can enjoy the Traverse City Wine & Art Festival. But if you want to explore Traverse City even more, the city and surrounding Leelanau Peninsula have a lot to offer. There are many things to do in Traverse City all year, including winter activities in Traverse City. There are also numerous cheap and free things to do with children in Traverse City if you’re bringing the whole family.