A Wine Lover’s Guide to Our Favorite Leelanau Peninsula Wineries
The Leelanau Peninsula, recognized by USA Today readers as one of the nation’s best regions for those who love wine, is sure to delight all wine lovers from connoisseurs to those who recently developed a palate. The award-winning Wine Trail (www.lpwines.com) features a remarkable diversity among the 27 wineries with acclaimed varietals to suit every taste.
That said, we sure did not anticipate when we began gathering this that we would be facing such difficult times. But here we are. Michigan’s North Country is the first region to open, albeit with lots of safeguards and protocols. Wineries, particularly, are moving tables outside for you to savor the experience, and curbside service to purchase your libations.
Pleased to share that you will find wineries welcoming you again as we reach June. Call ahead or check website/Facebook pages for hours, though. And order ahead if you can. We did, and at this time found that most of our favorites wineries are open at least Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, but with widely varying hours and reservations requested.
The Glen Arbor Bed & Breakfast and Cottages (www.glenarborbnb.com) is open, too, with the same attention to safeguards and protocols, and multiple options for social distancing in charming spaces, including two full amenity cottages and several isolated suites.
That said, we’ve collected our favorites for you to enjoy over a two day journey. Grab your mask, best hand-sanitizer, sunglasses, camera, and tastebuds for a delightful break on the Leelanau Peninsula.
Just a minute away from our bed and breakfast is Glen Arbor Wines, a cozy wine bar that is the perfect start to your wine journey. Their vintage-style space with an extensive selection of local wines is the perfect place to get a feel for which wines you like from the region, for now by the glass only. On sunny days, sip your glass of wine and play a game of bocce ball on their backyard lawn or simply soak up the rays while you enjoy.
Head northeast 20 minutes on M22 to beautiful Good Harbor Winery. With a tasting room that is bright and welcoming, you’ll definitely want to spend some time there. Enjoy your wine amidst the flowers on their outdoor garden patio. Their classic tasting flight includes five wines and ciders plus a souvenir glass for only six dollars. Grab a charcuterie board and sip some wine at this must-visit tasting room, or, even better, their front and backyard outdoor spaces.
After Good Harbor, head east mere minutes to find Chateau Fontaine Winery. Alongside their Chardonnays and Pinot Gris, they specialize in white grape varieties like Viognier, Pinot Blanc and Grüner Veltliner. Their Pinot Blanc won several awards and is highly regarded amongst the wine community for its complex tropical fruit-forward flavors. Open Friday-Monday, make sure you plan a visit to their tasting room, located in a quaint cottage nestled in the trees. Or spend a relaxing time on their wonderful, vine-covered patio.
Another 10 minutes south from Chateau Fontaine is your final visit for the day, Bel Lago Vineyards & Winery. Bel Lago, or “beautiful lake” in Italian, is a stunning winery named for its remarkable panoramic view of Lake Leelanau. They have dozens of award-winning wines to choose from including Pinots, Chardonnays, and Rieslings. Become entranced by the water and vineyard views while you sip in their tasting room or outdoors on their beautiful porch.
Start your second day walking in a charming vineyard on the eastern side of the peninsula! Shady Lane Cellars offers in-depth vineyard tours with their seasoned experts. After your tour, enjoy one of their famous wine and cheese pairings or catch one of their live music gatherings. Bundle up in their warm and inviting tasting room on a rainy afternoon, or take your glass of wine outside on a sunny day and find a tranquil spot to sit back and enjoy the views.
As one of the oldest wineries on the Peninsula, your next stop, Mawby Vineyards & Winery, has perfected the art of delicious, complex wines. They specialize in light and bubbly sparkling wines with uniquely named best sellers such as ‘Us,’ ‘Wild,’ and ‘Grace’. In normal years, every visitor is gifted with three complimentary tastes of their signature wines. In 2020, curbside only, though. So grab a bottle (or two) to bring home for any special occasion or celebration.
11 minutes north of Mawby Vineyards and Winery is Blustone Vineyards, a gorgeous vineyard spread over 40 acres of land. Head into their tasting room to sample some of their complex wines with a panoramic view of the vineyards. With floor to ceiling windows and open access to the outdoors on warm summer days, you will love drinking in both the wines – and the view.
Five minutes north of Blustone Vineyards is the perfect place to end your day – Aurora Cellars. This boutique winery with Old-World class is a must-visit. The vineyard has the feel of a small family estate nestled in the rolling hills of the Italian countryside. Plan your visit during dinner so you can match their award-winning wines with their delicious epicurean small plates (we hope), using ingredients sourced from local purveyors across the peninsula. Eat, drink, and relax in style at this final stop of your journey.
Depending on the season, you can also venture to Leelanau Peninsula for one of the area’s famous wine weekends. As of this writing in early June, the November weekends and Spring 2021 event are still on the calendar and lodging reservations are available.
Book your stay at the Glen Arbor Bed & Breakfast for these themed experiences and join our special wine packages. For these themed weekends, we sure hope we will be able to provide a delicious dinner Friday evening, a chauffeured van for no more than 10 to take you on tour with matching plates at each stop, a Saturday night pizza gathering, Sunday brunch. And to top all that, a complimentary Sunday night stay.The first three weekends of November, 2020, the wineries are bringing out their holiday spirit for Toast the Season. This holiday food-and-wine pairing event is an absolute blast! Many of our guests sync up with one another along the wine trail and make lifelong friendships through their love of wine. The first weekend in May, 2021, wine lovers are back again from all over for the notorious Leelanau Vintners’ Spring Sip & Savor. Held the same day as the Kentucky Derby, you’ll find large, flamboyant, individually-decorated hats along the Trail as the vintners sponsor a Hat Contest. The imaginative chapeau below was fashioned by one of our Glen Arbor Bed & Breakfast guests, and won first-prize from the Vintners. Bet you love it. This is the perfect girl’s getaway weekend as you taste the best wines on the Peninsula, sample complimentary small plates, and smell flowers newly blooming. Or schedule a private tour any time. Pack your bags and get ready for a weekend of extreme relaxation, spontaneous happiness, and full suitcases with bottles of wine from your favorite wineries. Tour the finest wineries on the Leelanau Peninsula and fall in love with this region and it’s wines. Ready to explore the Leelanau Peninsula’s best wineries? Book a stay at Glen Arbor Bed & Breakfast and Cottages in the heart of Glen Arbor and experience Northern Michigan with luxurious and comfortable accommodations.