Leelanau Peninsula recommendations?

Would appreciate recommendations on Leelanau Peninsula wine producer visits and dining options.

My favorites on the peninsula are:

L.Mawby for sparkling
Brengman Brothers for Riesling
Bel Lago

Most places are worth stopping in if you’re driving by, but avoid Leelanau Cellars. Tourist plonk. Raftshol Vineyards is just plain weird and not worth it.

The vintage variation in Michigan is greater than I’ve encountered elsewhere. The reds are decent in a warm year, but can be thin and lean during a cool year. Whites are better across the board. I enjoyed many '12s and '13s, but most '14s were disappointing, in part due to extensive damage to the vines during the “Polar Vortex” winter. Haven’t had any '15s.

For dining, Bistro Foufou in Traverse City is my favorite place. Red Ginger seems to be the most popular spot but I’m not a fan.


LP: Mawby, Shady Lane, 45 North, possibly Blackstar Farms. Avoid Ciccoine (sp?)

If you get to the Old Mission side, Peninsula Cellars and 2 Lads are great, among others.

It’s a beautiful area, we were there in August.

BigLittle make good wines, particularly sparkling, near Suttons Bay.

I do sell their wines wholesale in Michigan, so I may be suspected of being partial, but they’ve been received by the market very well, without much pitching on my part!

The Cook’s House in Traverse City is by far the best restaurant at which I have eaten in this area. Wineries, to be honest, have been less memorable, though many are certainly sincere and coming up with interesting things from time to time: Black Star being one, and Shady Lane, if I recall correctly, another.

Mawby was by far the highlight when we were up there last summer. Ask about library vintages. Biggest surprise was the Blaufrankisch at Left Foot Charlies.

Thanks, everybody, for the very helpful suggestions.

I had a fantastic experience at Brengman Brothers last weekend. We pre-booked the private tour and tasting and were surprised that Robert Brengman would be giving us our tour and tasting. We started in the tasting room for the first couple of tastes and then moved on to the production area (including several samples from the stainless steel tanks), followed by a good amount of time walking the vines, and then back to the tasting room. I was impressed by the amount of attention put into the farming aspects of their operation. One thing I found interesting is that their climate allows them to achieve good acidity without having to pick the grapes before they’re fully ripe. It sort of reminded me of the trend of wineries like Arnot-Roberts who are seeking out cooler sites to achieve relatively low alcohol, higher acid wines.

Their wines - especially their whites (e.g., Riesling and Gewurztraminer) - were very impressive: layers of stone fruit and minerality balanced by a good amount of acid. I was really surprised that wine of this caliber came from Michigan.

9 Bean Row is a very good restaurant in Suttons Bay, not wine but Hop Lot (beer) & Tandem (cider) are a lot of fun.

Are BL wines available in any retail locations near South Haven?


On Leelanau I’d recommend Mawby, Left Foot Charley and Black Star Farms. Haven’t been to Brengman but heard good things.

On the Old Mission Peninsula, Mari Vineyards, Grand Traverse and Peninsula Cellars makes a killer Hewurz from the Maigold Vineyard.

James Sucklings website recently revised wines from the region and rated 53 wines 90 points or better.