Traverse City Area

I have a friend looking to take a trip up there. Any suggestions for winery visits ? Is there a better area in Michigan for wineries ?

thanks for your help.

[Edit:] I’m keeping this updated as we go along, and with any new thoughts.

We’re going up there the end of the month, but it will be our first time. We’re leaving Monday morning and returning on Thursday. Enough time?

This existing thread was helpful:

We’re staying at The Park Place Hotel (unless people here talk us out of it). I’ve mapped out several wineries and breweries on Google already. Still have to decide on a place for a nice dinner one night.

Between the existing thread, some research, and talking to some other friends, below includes what we are researching.

My winery list includes:

45 North
Chateau Fontaine
French Valley (confirm hours)
Mawby - reservation required
Bel Lago
Shady Lane
- reservation recommended

Left Foot Charley - reservation required

2 Lads - reservation required (closed for Covid)
Chateau Chantal
Brys Estate - reservation recommended
Chateau Grand Traverse
Black Star Farms

They’re split between the two peninsulas (west and east ones). The ones in Bold are the ones I am focused on for now.

Breweries include (in town and on the peninsulas):
Hop Lot - also serves food
Jolly Pumpkin - ditto
Terra Firma
Right Brain - food trucks
Rare Bird - serves food
Middle Coast
7 Monks - associated with Low Bar?
The Workshop

Restaurants include:
The Cooks House - made appointment
Trattoria Stella - made appointment
Mission Table - looks like take-out only right now and part of Jolly Pumpkin?
Poppycocks (added)
Apache Trout Grill (added)
Amical (added)

Obviously I am not going to hit all of them. Maybe some other people on here can make better recs, or even comment on what I’ve listed (what to add, what to drop).

On the way home to Chicago, we plan to hit (maybe):
Stormcloud Brewery
Wyncroft Winery
Transient Artisan Ales - maybe lunch food as well
Greenbush Brewery - ditto

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Wyncroft makes some nice wine and the owner is a really nice guy and knowledgeable about all sorts of wine. Worth a visit. The Cooks House was, and I hope still is, a great restaurant. The ones you bolded are the better ones, if I recall–it’s been a while, especially Black Star Farms, if I am not mistaken. Bel Lago’s Auxerrois, still and sparkling is also pretty good, if I am remembering right.

Paul, I don’t think LFC serves dinner, but it is right next to Stella which is can’t miss in TC.

Not on your list, but Poppycocks in TC has pretty good food - not at Cooks House level, but we had a really good meal here about a month ago (also went to La Becasse but that is a decent drive from TC.

Regarding wineries, I won’t say much, I like 45N, Mawby, 2 Lads, Brys. Wouldn’t be caught dead at Chantal (except maybe for the views), but if you go let me know what you

If you want a really great milk shake drive a few miles east to Don’s Drive In

Park Place is a good place, right in town - I haven’t been there in years, but they just invested a ton of money in renovations

Thanks for the recs.

Don’s. Oh boy. My wife will love that.

Wyncroft has some nice rieslings - when living in Chicago, I had these pretty often. Left Foot Charley’s Pinot Blanc is one of my favorite guzzable summer wines, too.


Some good recommendations above, but things depend on your taste a bit to be sure. Some background, the “Traverse City” wine areas are really the two penninsulas (both distinct AVAS) that are north of the city itself. Leelenau is a bit more spread out and populated, Old Mission is more of a wine route and there’s less to do (i.e. stopping in small towns). Either one has some great places to choose from.

My must hits would be:

  • MAWBY (Leelenau, exclusively sparkling)
  • Shady Lane (Leelenau, outdoor tasting area, great wines)
  • Mari (Old Mission, world class tasting room and wines)
  • 2 Lads (Old Mission, great bubbly and still wines)
  • Left Foot Charlie (in Traverse City, wines and cider)

If you’re looking to travel a little bit north to a younger wine region, the Tip of the Mitt AVA is the newest region in Michigan and has some very nice wineries popping up. These are all a little bit younger and focus mainly on hybrids, but there are some excellent offerings.

I’d be happy to give further information on anything else you’re looking to visit.

Thanks, Matt… from someone with boots on the ground.

“Tip of the Mitt” is a great name for an AVA.

hi nick,

can you shoot me an email? My friend Kristy has a lot of inside connections to Michigan wineries and she does some weekend stuff with Hickory Creek from time to time. I also have a friend doing harvest and working as an assistant winemaker with Modales. I’d be happy to connect you with both of them

On the Leelanau side I second Mawby for the bubbles. My favorite for the view is Leelanua Cellars and my favorite overall tasting is Chateau Fontaine. On the peninsula side I like Mari and for the views Bonobo.

For food highly recommend Cooks house and Amical. Apache Trout Grill is a group favorite.

For food on the peninsula really like Jolly Pumpkin.

From my perspective, it’s Mawby, Mawby, Mawby. By far the vinous highlight of our last visit. Ask what aged vintage bubbles they have available from their library.

In general, bubbles > still, and white > red. Way too much cloyingly sweet whites, and overworked reds.

Loved Mawby (as you could probably guess), and agree with this overall.

Still working through my Mawby stash from our last trip up there 4 or 5 years ago. Down to a couple of 750s but really enjoyed the mags

I’ll add for any future trips I enjoy the Niagra NOTL area more than Traverse now but of course with borders closed that doesn’t work. Depending on where you are coming from in Michigan, i’m smack in the middle of both so it’s about the same drive time. That said TC is beautiful and a great trip just don’t expect stellar wines. They have a lot of fantastic restaraunts.

Not a beer drinker but the group always likes Hop Lot and if you are willing to drive I believe Shorts is the King out there. 7 monks was a fun atmosphere and they did have good food but I believe more of a bar/grill then full restaraunt. As a non beer drinking person my favorite beer stop was the filing station they had a fantastic dessert s’more pizza and I thought the atmosphere was pretty cool in the old train station. Might be worth consideration if you do a beer/app, beer/dinner, then beer/dessert stop.

One last add–I like to stop at the Park Place hotel for happy hour to take in their views. Some of the best in the city. I’ve heard the hotel is also nice so I think that is a good choice to stay. And last girl’s trip the winner for dinners was surprisingly Reflect Bistro inside one of the hotels.

The mags are excellent and we always make sure to feature a couple at our new years party… Reasonably priced as well for the format and style.

Why? We were going to take a trip to Traverse City and stay at Chateau Chantal, but postponed it until next summer.

Thanks everyone for the suggestions.