Vintage Visit

Appears in the September 2021 issue.

If a trip to Napa or Willamette Valley isn’t in the cards this fall, there’s still plenty of wine to savor in Michigan. The Great Lake state has five different American Viticultural Areas and more than 100 wineries, many of which reside along the 45th parallel—halfway between the equator and the North Pole, in line with famous winemaking regions such as Piedmont in Italy and France’s Rhone Valley. 

Ripe for a quick day trip or full weekend jaunt, the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail ( is the closest in proximity to the Chicago area. This trail includes 15 wineries up the state’s western coast. 

If you’d like to concentrate more on savoring sips and less on navigating, book a Wine-O-Wagon Tour through Fruitful Vine Tours. You can arrange for a pickup from popular lakeside towns St. Joseph or New Buffalo and ride to three wineries in a cushy covered wagon pulled by a tractor. The cost of the tour ($175 per person) includes a tasting at each winery, plus lunch.

Farther north, the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail ( includes 24 wineries, split into three different loops for easier touring. On the Sleeping Bear Loop, Boathouse Vineyards sits on the shore of Lake Leelanau. Dock your boat and stop in for a tasting, or just enjoy the lake breezes from an Adirondack chair. On the Northern Loop, stop into 45 North to sip and swirl inside a beautiful post-and-beam barn before swinging by quirky Tandem Ciders for a pint and a game of horseshoes. In the Grand Traverse Bay Loop, Mawby specializes in sparkling wines, while Black Star Farms boasts a historic inn, horse stables, and a farm-to-table restaurant. 

The trail also hosts Harvest Days throughout the month of September, with discounts and specials for ticket holders. At presstime the trail was also preparing to launch a new mobile app called the LP Wine Pass.

Farther north still, toward the tip of the Michigan’s “mitten,” the Petoskey Wine Region features 14 wineries along Lake Michigan and Little Traverse Bay. Make the rounds with a Petoskey Wine Region Passport for $30 ( and score a $5 discount on a wine tasting at each winery.