You might wonder how many Old Mission Peninsula Wineries are in Traverse City. Eleven vineyards sit on this small sliver of land that extends into the beautiful blue waters of Grand Traverse Bay in Northern Michigan. These wineries are only minutes away from downtown Traverse City and make a perfect small weekend or day getaway.
And while it would be great to visit all eleven wineries, it might be hard to do so if you visit the area for one day. To help narrow down your choices, I’ve listed below 4 Old Mission Peninsula wineries you can see in a day. This region makes spectacular wine, including cherry wine, and you’ll see lots of lush green vineyards and cherry farms on the Old Mission Peninsula Wine Trail.
What Makes the Old Mission Peninsula Wineries Special?
Having already been to some wineries up North, I thought the Old Misson Peninsula wineries would have mostly sweet wines. I was wrong. While they have some fantastic sweet wines, the vineyards also have well-balanced red and dry white wines. Needless to say, I bought five bottles to enjoy at home.
Have you had wine from Bordeaux, France, or Piedmont, Italy? Vineyards from these regions are located on the 45th parallel, exactly halfway between the Equator and the North Pole. The Old Mission Peninsula Wineries are also on this 45th parallel, and perhaps it explains why they are producing phenomenal wine that rivals France and Italy.
However, I think a large part of their success comes from their passion, hard work, and determination to make a name for themselves in the winery world. Vineyards take years, if not decades, to grow estate grapes and perfect the winemaking process, along with the high operational costs of running a winery!
But they do have help from the Grand Traverse Bay. Unlike other vineyards, such as North Georgia wineries, which constantly battle frost and mold, the depth of the Grand Traverse Bay helps regulate the climate, decreasing the chances of frost while the grapes grow. Who knew that grapes could grow in this type of climate that sees a lot of snow?
Getting Around Old Mission Peninsula
Since the peninsula is approximately 19 miles long, driving to the wineries you want to see is easy. But unless you have a designated driver, you’ll probably want to do a wine tour where someone can safely take you around to visit the Old Misson Peninsula wineries.
You can do these wine tours in a large bus or a van, but if you want something more intimate, you can have a limousine drive you around. Or, if you feel more adventurous, why not take a bike and take a self-guided tour? It is not entirely flat terrain, but the bike ride is worth it for the fantastic scenery!
Taste Wine at Four Wineries
Address: 8175 Center Road, Traverse City, MI 49686
If you watch the Curse of Oak Island on the History channel as I do, you know stopping at Mari Vineyards will be at the top of your list of Old Mission Peninsula wineries to visit. Marty Lagina and his family own and operate this winery, in addition to trying to discover buried treasure on Oak Island in Nova Scotia.
During your visit to the winery, you’ll see homage to the popular television show while also feeling like you’ve been transported to an Italian villa in Tuscany. The first vines were grown way back in 1999, resulting in one of the most popular wines at Mari’s today: Row 7.
Mari is known for their deep, rich red wines, and you can taste them in their richly designed tasting room, which also displays Marty Lagina’s craftsmanship. Remember that it is a boutique winery, so your favorites might not be there the next time you visit. But this means you can try many different wines or join their wine club to keep the bottles coming!
While you are there, don’t forget to enjoy the beautiful vista of Grand Traverse Bay while sipping Mari’s wine in their white Adirondack chairs. It is the perfect way to spend an afternoon!
And if you have extra time, sign up for their walking tour of the building and wine caves. The 45-minute tour is $30 per person, but well worth the price to see how they make their wine. Bring a light sweater for the tour since the room temperature drops between 55 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit when you enter the wine caves. Cooler temperatures and higher humidity help with the wine aging process.
The aging barrels at Mari Vineyards are the largest I’ve ever seen. And as you pass these wooden barrels on tour, you will reach the Oculus, a circular area 32 feet in diameter that reminds me a little of the Pantheon in Rome, Italy. Look up to see a small opening at the ceiling’s center, where the light shines from the vineyard above. If you are lucky, your tour guide will turn off the lights so you can see how the room transforms.
Also, look down at the floor. You will notice that you are on a giant compass that points toward the summer solstice. On the longest day of the year, they open the massive wooden doors and watch the sun rise over the horizon directly in the center of the doorway, illuminating the caves.
I wish I could see this spectacular event, but only family and friends get this special invite. Regardless, it’s pretty neat to see the wine caves and Oculus on the tour, as you won’t see this unique structure in other wineries!
For further information about their tours, visit their website here.
Brys Estate Vineyard and Winery
Address: 3309 Blue Water Road, Traverse City, MI 49686
Out of all the Old Misson Peninsula Wineries, this is where you might want to plan to stop for a light lunch while enjoying their “tasting tower.” They have an excellent cheese and charcuterie board with delicious garlic and herb cheese spread. I’m sad that I don’t live closer to order this again!
The tasting tower comes with five wines of your choosing for $17. Or, you can get a smaller flight with three tastings for $12 (pricing subject to change). We ordered luscious chocolate truffles to pair with their heavenly wines.
Reservations are highly recommended, especially on the weekends, and you can make reservations for their tasting room or upper deck on their website. If you are lucky, the weather will be nice, and you can enjoy your wine and lunch on their upper deck patio that overlooks the large vineyard.
If you go at the right time of the year, you will get beautiful vineyard views and see their 6000 lavender plants in the Secret Garden. We were not fortunate to see these beauties bloom, but I can imagine walking through the sea of purple and taking many photos of them!
Address: 12011 Center Road, Traverse City, MI 49686
Known for its white wines, Bonobo Winery is a fun, upscale winery on Old Mission Peninsula. They have an incredible view of the vines, cherry farms, and Grand Traverse Bay. I think my favorite thing is the giant swing that overlooks their vineyard.
Unlike some of the other Old Mission Peninsula wineries, Bonobo doesn’t really have a walk-in wine-tasting experience; however, you can reserve a wine tasting on their website for $20 a person. Or, you can walk up to their beautiful bar and order a glass of wine to enjoy on their patio. Visit their website for more information regarding their tours, including a food and wine pairing.
Why is the vineyard called Bonobo? Before visiting, I’d never heard of this term, but a bonobo is a species of great ape that is very similar to chimpanzees. The two brothers that founded Bonobo Winery help support the Bonobo Conservancy, whose mission is to protect the rainforest habitats where the bonobo reside in the Congo Basin. Sadly, the bonobo is nearly extinct, but the Bonobo Conservancy is working hard to prevent complete extinction from happening, and Bonobo Winery is helping with that effort, too!
Chateau Grand Traverse Winery
Address: 12239 Center Road, Traverse City, MI 49686
Chateau Grand Traverse Winery is the oldest winery on Old Mission Peninsula. The winery is family-owned, and you’ll immediately feel welcomed as you walk in the door. They have the cutest gift shop for the wine lover and many selections of wine bottles you can take home.
On your drive along the Old Mission Peninsula Wine Trail, you might see the hundreds of cherry orchards that grow on the peninsula. In fact, there are many cherry orchards in Michigan. So, why not use the tart fruit to make some cherry wine? These wineries are doing precisely that. Chateau Grand Traverse Winery does wine tastings for $10 per person, and you can’t walk away without trying their cherry wines.
Traverse City holds the National Cherry Festival every summer, and Chateau Grand Traverse Winery celebrates the festivities by producing an exclusive cherry and white wine. We were fortunate to visit on the day they put these bottles on their shelves to buy.
Also, try their spiced cherry wine while you are there – it’s like Christmas in a bottle. Cinnamon, cloves, orange, and lemon peels add flavor, and serving this wine in a hot mug is recommended. I could sip this wine all afternoon curled up in a wool blanket in front of my fireplace!
Other Wineries on the Old Mission Peninsula Wine Trail
Want to squeeze in a fifth vineyard to visit for the day? While I did not have the time to taste wine at these vineyards, I’ve listed below the other beautiful wineries you can see on the wine trail in Traverse City.
Hawthorne Vineyards: 1000 Camino Maria Drive
Peninsula Cellars: 11480 Center Road
Tabone Vineyards: 14916 Peninsula Drive
2 Lads Winery: 16985 Smokey Hollow Road
Chateau Chantal Winery and Inn: 15900 Rue de Vin
Black Star Farms Old Mission: 360 McKinley Road E
Bowers Harbor Vineyards: 2896 Bowers Harbor Road
And if you have even more time, you can check out the neighboring wineries on Leelanau Peninsula. You can find a list of wineries on the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail here.
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Have you visited any wineries on the Old Mission Peninsula Wine Trail? If so, what was your favorite? Please comment and share below!