Traverse City, Michigan
Traverse City, Michigan: Once known as the “Queen City of the North,” visitors flock to this Northern Michigan town for its beautiful scenery and water views, its abundance of outdoor activities like golf and water sports, and the Michael Moore-founded Traverse City Film Festival. But most of all, it’s known as the “Cherry Capital of the World.” In fact, its National Cherry Festival draws over 500,000 people there each year.
Traverse City is now home to over 25 wineries, which attract tourists year-round. The region has become known as a destination for wine-tasting weekends in no small part due to its reputation for world-class Rieslings. But fear not, red lovers—the region’s Cabernet Franc is starting to give the area’s aromatic whites a run for their money. Great wine, combined with world-class cuisine, fun pubs and bars and the quaint stores on Front Street make Traverse City a must-visit.
National Cherry Festival & Global Wine Pavilion visit.cherryfestival.org
This annual festival draws over 500,000 people to the area each year, celebrating the area’s biggest industry and the first fruit to put Traverse City on the map.
Leelanau Cellars www.leelanaucellars.com
Founded by one of the wine pioneers of the area, Mike Jacobson, this is the region’s only winery with a tasting room on the water. Mike & Mike tasted Leelanau Cellars’ Pinot Grigio, Semi-Dry Riesling and the winery’s flagship Winter White.
Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery www.brysestate.com
Boasting one of the most beautiful tasting rooms in the area, Brys Estate makes standout whites and reds. Mike tasted their Pinot Blanc and Cabernet Franc with winemaker Coenraad Stassen in their exquisite private tasting room.
2 Lads Winery www.2lwinery.com
2 Lads is one of the newest wineries in the area—architecturally striking with a thoroughly modern feel. Mike met the two lads themselves, owners Chris Baldyga and Cornel Olivier, and tasted their Cabernet Franc.
Grand Traverse Resort & Spa www.grandtraverseresort.com
Mike played on The Bear golf course, designed by Jack Nicklaus, and got some pointers from Head Pro and PGA Professional National Champion Scott Hebert.
The Boathouse Restaurant www.boathouseonwestbay.com
While enjoying fabulous local cuisine at The Boathouse, Mike and Boathouse Owner Doug Kosch savored some great local wine, including Black Star Farms’ Arcturos Dry Riesling, Brys Estate’s Naked Chardonnay and Peninsula Cellars’ Melange.
North Peak Brewing Company www.northpeak.net
Mike slowly sipped the five-beer sampler while daintily nibbling baby back ribs.
Chateau Chantal www.chateauchantal.com
Sweeping water views, a European style chateau and B&B, a lovely tasting room and a nice variety of reds, whites and fortified wines…what more can you ask for?
Traverse Area Historical Society www.traversehistory.org
Learn more about the area and view more historical photos as those seen in the Traverse City episode.
Chateau Grand Traverse www.cgtwines.com
One of the first wineries in the region, Chateau Grand Traverse has one of the most popular tasting rooms around, which is also brimming with wine accessories, apparel and more.
Ciccone Vineyards www.cicconevineyards.com
Owned by the Material Girl’s father, Tony Ciccone and his wife Joan, this winery even boasted a series of Madonna Wines. Mike did some vogueing while sampling their whites and reds.
L. Mawby www.lmawby.com
L. Mawby specializes in sparkling wine, following the mantra “Do one thing and do it well.” And boy, do they deliver on that promise. Visitors come again and again for the great bubbles and festive atmosphere.
Willow Vineyards www.lpwines.com/wineries/willow
Miss the hidden entrance to Willow Vineyards and you will miss out on the breathtaking views from their vineyard and the festive atmosphere in their homey tasting room. Mike tasted their Pinot Gris Baci Rosé.
Bowers Harbor Vineyards www.bowersharbor.com
This winery is known for their mascot dog & tasting room greeter, a beautiful creature named Cooper, who is worth the viit himself. You might go there to see Cooper, but you’ll stay for the wine.
Left Foot Charley wwwleftfootcharley.com
An urban winery located in the heart of the Grand Traverse Commons, formerly the Northern Michigan Asylum—true! Owner Bryan Ulbrich (the winery’s name is a childhood nickname) is one of the most respected winemakers in the region. Mike tasted their Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Riesling.
Black Star Farms www.blackstarfarms.com
An inviting tasting room, creamery, distillery, café, equestrian facility and luxurious inn make Black Star Farms a popular tourist destination. You can enjoy a glass of wine while watching horses trot in the paddock.
Peninsula Cellars www.peninsulacellars.com
Located in a charming old schoolhouse, Peninsula Cellars’ wines carry on the theme with names like “Detention” and “Homework.” It will probably be the first time in your life you’ll ever want more homework. Mike tried their award-winning Dry Riesling, rated “Excellent” by Joel Stein in his 2008 Time magazine piece, “Fifty States of Wine.”
Jolly Pumpkin www.jollypumpkin.com/traversecity
The new sister site to North Peak Brewing Company, this brewery is tucked away behind the elegant Bowers Harbor Inn restaurant. It opened in 2009 and immediately attracted a huge following.