Fall in Michigan is a wonderful thing. Temperatures cool down, football season is in full swing, and leaves turn brilliant colors. If you ask us, Fall doesn’t get any better than in Traverse City’s wine country, especially Old Mission Peninsula.
One of the highlights of our year is spending time hopping from winery to winery at the peak of Fall colors. The surreal tree line views and sweater weather temperatures make for a magical experience. The wine doesn’t hurt, either.
We thrive on spreading the Michigan love, so here are our recommendations for making a memorable day of wining and dining on Old Mission Peninsula. You’re invited to use us as your guide or blaze a path of your own. Either way, you can’t go wrong.
If you’ve ever done a wine tour before, you know that having a good foundation in your stomach is essential for the long haul. To make the most of your day, fill up in town or try these bonafide lunch options on the peninsula.
Bad Dog Deli
For a good sandwich that will fuel your wine tasting adventures, Bad Dog Deli is a solid option. Located roughly half way up the peninsula, Bad Dog Deli is connected to the Peninsula Grill, a fine choice for dinner (see our dinner recommendations below).
If you’re visiting Traverse City from downstate, you may be familiar with Jolly Pumpkin locations in Ann Arbor and Detroit. While these locations are great, there’s something special about the original Jolly Pumpkin on Old Mission Peninsula. The rustic vibe and proximity to West Grand Traverse Bay will transport you into a state of relaxation. Fresh fish or one of their delicious pizzas will help you start your day on a high note.
Everyone has their preferences when it comes to varieties of wine. We are equal opportunity wine lovers; here are a few of our recommended wineries that will make your day memorable.
Sitting high atop Old Mission Peninsula, Chateau Chantal offers views of both East and West Grand Traverse Bay. The panoramic views are worth the visit alone, but don’t sleep on their wine. You can let one of their experts guide you through a tasting, or go for the gusto with a glass and take it onto their expansive patio.
Truth be told, we have family on Old Mission that are generous enough to let us stay with them during our travels. To thank them for their hospitality, we always leave a bottle of Old School Red by Peninsula Cellars, one of their favorites.
Located in an old schoolhouse, Peninsula Cellars has one of the more quirky tasting rooms on Old Mission. “I will only drink good wine” is written all over the chalkboard, reminding you to drink the best Michigan has to offer.
Chateau Grand Traverse
Founded in 1974, Chateau Grand Traverse provides a wonderful view with wines ranging from reds to Rieslings, whites to cherry wines. In addition to wine, the Chateau sells a variety of Michigan made snacks to enjoy. For a truly immersive experience, there’s an Inn so you can sleep among the vines.
Bowers Harbor Vineyards
There’s only one word needed to describe the tasting room and grounds at Bowers Harbor Vineyards: quaint. You’ll feel right at home in their cozy quarters and seating areas throughout the property.
There’s no shortage of tasting options at Bowers Harbor. They offer more than 30 varieties of wine and cider for tasting and purchase, sure to please even the pickiest wine connoisseur.
Wineries on Old Mission Peninsula (as of September 2016):
- 2 Lads Winery
- Black Star Farms
- Bonobo Winery
- Bowers Harbor Vineyards
- Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery
- Chateau Chantal
- Chateau Grand Traverse
- Hawthorne Vineyards
- Mari Vineyards
- Peninsula Cellars
No wine tasting adventure is complete without a seriously good dinner. There’s nothing like discussing your favorite wineries throughout the day over a good meal while the sun is setting. Sorry, that sounded like a Pure Michigan commercial, but it rings true.
A stunning view and entrees ranging from duck to whitefish are what you’ll find at The Boathouse, nestled on the shores of Bowers Harbor. Your worries and cares will disappear (if they haven’t already after all the wine) when you look out onto the water of West Grand Traverse Bay. You’ll find locally sourced ingredients throughout the menu, as well as fish and oysters from afar, rivaling the beauty that surrounds you.
For steaks and seafood conveniently located halfway up the peninsula, Peninsula Grill fits the bill. Nestled in Old Mission wine country, this laid back restaurant is lined with windows offering views of its surroundings. Hours vary seasonally, so be sure to check out their website.
Built in the 1880’s, Mission Table (formerly Bowers Harbor Inn) is a piece of Old Mission history. Enjoy white tablecloth dining across from the gorgeous West Grand Traverse Bay.
If you didn’t get your fill of wine during the day, Bonobo Winery, owned by Carter Oosterhouse and Amy Smart, is open until 9 PM, Monday through Saturday (at the time of publishing this article). The tasting room is quite large with intimate seating areas for conversing, providing the perfect setting to enjoy wine into the night.
For a safe and enjoyable experience, make sure to stay hydrated and always stay legal if you’re driving. We’d love to hear about your Old Mission wine tasting experiences, so please feel free to comment below. Cheers!