Grand Traverse Bay: Northern Michigan’s Hidden Wine Treasure

Traverse City, nestled on the shores of Grand Traverse Bay, is a Northern Michigan treasure. Home to a week-long National Cherry Festival every July, it boasts a thriving tourism industry year-long thanks to its sandy freshwater beaches, local downhill ski resorts and quick access to Lake Michigan. It is a family vacation paradise, and in 2009, it was named one of the top small town destinations in the United States by TripAdvisor.

For years, the biggest draw for the Traverse City area was the cherry harvest, as it is one of, if not the largest producer of tart cherries in the United States and dubbed the “Cherry Capital of the World”. Not surprisingly, one of the other fruits produced by the local countryside is grapes, and Traverse City is becoming one of the major centres for grape production in the Mid-West.

Situated on the 45th parallel, the same as some famous wine regions in Italy and France, the area has developed a unique micro-climate with the help of Lake Michigan. This cooler micro-climate allows for later harvests as early frosts are held back, deep lake-effect snow helps to insulate the vines in the winter and early budding is rare because of the chill off the lake in the spring. All this helps to create clean, fresh wines, which rival those grown in hotter regions.

There are two distinct trails in Northern Michigan’s Wine country, stretching out over two different peninsulas: Old Mission and Leelanau. Leelanau Peninsula has three different wine loops: the Sleeping Bear Loop, the Northern Loop and the Grand Traverse Bay Loop and is home to 24 of the best Northern Michigan wineries. Old Mission Peninsula is a singular loop and has eight unique wineries. You can visit these areas on your own or book a tour with a local company. Both peninsulas are worthy of exploration!

Check out these 8 Grand Traverse Bay wineries you need to visit:


Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery

Brys Estate Vineyard and Winery is a family run enterprise located on the Old Mission Peninsula, who proudly put their family name behind each bottle of quality wine.


Chateau Grand Traverse

Chateau Grand Traverse is a world-class facility with lovely hand-crafted wines, also located on the Old Mission Peninsula.


Shady Lane Cellars

Shady Lane Cellars located on the Grand Traverse Bay loop, Shady Lane is just minutes away from Traverse City.


L. Mawby

L. Mawby also located on the Grand Traverse Bay loop, produces fantastic sparkling wines that fully express the unique terroir of the area.


45 North Vineyard & Winery

45 North Vineyard and Winery can be found on the Northern Loop. They make fabulous fruit wines from locally-sourced peaches and strawberries on top of their red and white varietals.


Verterra Winery

Verterra Winery on the Northern Loop, offers 16 different wines while keeping focused on staying true to the land.


Chateau Fontaine

Chateau Fontaine is located on the Sleeping Bear Route, focuses mainly on white varietals as well as their award winning cherry wine.


Longview Winery

Longview Winery just north of Cedar on the Sleeping Bear Route, boasts five Michigan’s Best of Class awards for their wines.

Thirsty for more wine adventure in the United States? Check out The Wines of Long Island!