Wine touring in Traverse City has become a very popular activity for visitors & locals alike. There’s nothing that can compare with tasting a wine with the person who made it, and with over 35 wineries in our area there’s a lot to discover on the Leelanau and Old Mission Peninsulas.
We’ve spent years in the wine industry and have put together this simple guide to take the uncertainty out of wine touring and leave you to enjoy the fun!
You know enough about wine to go wine touring.
In the seven years we ran the Leelanau Wine Trail, the top questions and concerns were always about the cost and requirements for wine tasting. While some try to make wine tasting an esoteric and mystifying art, let us assure you that wine tasting is easy, fun, and well within your capabilities if you like wine or are willing to try.
At its core, wine tasting is about the flavors of the wine and how you like them. You don’t need to worry about Robert Parker or even the people you’re with. Everyone has their own palate and the diversity of Traverse City wines & ciders makes it really likely you will find varieties you like.
So relax, have fun and let your taste buds tell you what they like!
Wine touring can be a learning experience.
Whatever your starting knowledge, it’s pretty likely that you can add to it in a day or weekend of wine touring.
For the novice, it’s easy. Open your ears, focus on what you’re sipping and let our expert tasting room staff guide you through their wines. Don’t try and take it all in, but use some of the flavors and terms as building blocks. Before long, you’ll be talking terrior with the best of them!
If you’re a more experienced wine drinker, consider some of the varietals grown on the Leelanau & Old Mission Peninsulas: Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Gewurztraminer, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc, Vignoles, Chambourcin, Seyval Blanc, Vidal Blanc, Marechal Foch – the list goes on and you can experience some of the fullest expressions of many of these in our cool-climate paradise.
photo courtesy Traverse City CVB
Buy some wine.
This may seem self-evident, or even a little pushy at first blush, but remember that even paid tastings are usually conducted at a loss for wineries.
Most of our wineries are small farm businesses, subject to a lot of uncertainty. Wine sales in the tasting room are their major source of income so please buy if you can!
While you may think you’ll never forget that Viognier from … what was that winery? … the truth is that with all the varieties and wineries, you might forget your favorite wine. It never hurts to take notes on what you liked and didn’t!!
Try not to worry about tasting fees.
You may have concern about how much wine tasting costs at different wineries, but consider that it’s still usually cheaper than a glass at your local restaurant for the same amount of wine and the experience!
Wine is Alcohol.
This sounds like simple. common-sense but you need to remember that even though you’re enjoying the fruits of our area, you’re still subject to the laws of the land. In Michigan, that means your blood alcohol level needs to be under .08%. With wine, that adds up quickly so be sure to know your tolerance and understand how alcohol affects you.
You don’t want your weekend of fun to end in arrest or tragedy!
Which brings us to…
You don’t have to drive.
A designated driver is always a good idea. If you don’t have one available, definitely consider one of our many shuttle & touring companies.
You can also choose to stay within walking distance of your destination. Many wineries have unique lodging options and there are also numerous hotels in Traverse City that cater to winery tourists.
Don’t forget that even though you live in the area, spending a night at a Traverse City hotel can offer a refreshing “stay-cation” that might be just what the doctor ordered!
Make a plan.
Get familiar with our list of area wineries. Plan your tour so that you make the most of your time & tolerance.
Remember also that the peak tourism periods: summer, fall and the holiday season are very busy in wineries. If you want to tour at a more leisurely pace consider an off-season visit. Chances are the rate will be better too!
Less is more.
Don’t feel like you have to cram everything into a single day or weekend. Traverse City’s wine scene is more than you can take in over a short period. It’s best to allow more time at wineries to get the most out of your experience.
Share YOUR Photographs
You can share your pictures with us at the following locations:
- Our Flickr Group
- Our Facebook Page
- At Instagram hashtag #eatdrinkTC
- At Twitter hashtag #eatdrinkTC (or tweet it to @eatdrinkTC!)
We will give you credit and our thanks!!