A Very Wine Time

I’ve had such a busy summer and meant to post more than I have.  But now, with summer winding down and fall approaching, I have more time to tell you about my summer!

Back in June, my brother Michael and I ventured up to Northport in the Leelanau Peninsula for some R&R and wine.  We stayed at the Mill Pond Inn.  It was a cute place in a good location–within walking distance of “downtown” Northport (I use downtown very loosely here).  However, for the price, we didn’t get a great breakfast–so I’d probably look at another place to stay in the future.  You can check out our room and breakfast below.  Since we were still hungry, Michael and I walked into town and checked out Barb’s Bakery instead!  They have great sweets, including Northern Michigan cherry based treats, and coffee–although since I don’t drink coffee, you’ll have to take my brothers word for it.

The quiet walk into town passed a river and small pond, which was a great place to sit and enjoy our pastries from Barb’s.

Now for the wineries!  My brother and I stopped by 11 wineries over the course of two days–that’s right, 11!  And we didn’t even get to all the wineries in Leelanau Peninsula.  All told, there are 25 wineries in the peninsula, so it looks like we’ll have to make another trip up there in the near future to visit all of them.

Here were our favorites:

Leelanau Cellars

Our first stop and probably our favorite!  Leelanau Cellars is located right off 22, so it’s very easy access for anyone driving along the east coast of the peninsula.  Being right on Omena Bay, it has a different vibe than the other wineries we went to, who boat views of their vineyard instead.  We saw people pull up their boats from Old Mission and Traverse City, dock their boat and walk right in for a glass of wine.  So not only did Leelanau have a cozy, nautical vibe, their wines were exceptional as well (and at a great price).  Mine and Michael’s unanimous favorites were Winter White (you can get it for only $6 at your local Michigan grocery store!), Reserve Chandonnay, Witches Brew (served HOT and only $7!) and the Vidal Ice Wine.  And for the quality of the wine, you’ll get the best bang for your buck here.

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Shady Lane Cellars

We loved Shady Lane Cellars because of the atmosphere (and yes the wine too).  There’s plenty of green space with a fire pit, corn hole, patio and Adirondack chairs that overlook the vineyard.  It’s a great place to come as a destination rather than just a stop on a long list of wineries.  After our wine tasting, Michael and I each picked up a glass and enjoyed the views for a few minutes rather than feeling rushed out of the tasting room, as we did at some other places.  My favorites were the Coop de Rose and Cabernet Franc, while my brother loved the Pomeranz.

Mawby Vineyards and Winery

Another favorite place of ours–Mawby Vineyards blew us away.  They specialize in sparking wines and champagnes and have endless choices for every palette.  The tasting room wasn’t anything impressive but the wines made up for it.  Our favorites were Grace, Sandpiper, Sex and Fizz.

These three places were by far our favorites.  The other places we went to were good and had a wine or two that we enjoyed, or a beautiful atmosphere and views, but the wines just didn’t compare to these three places.  Anyways, here’s the other places we went to.

Chateau de Leelanau

Rustic tasting room with decent ciders, although the wines don’t compare at Chateau de Leelanau.  They have a seasonal rotational menu of ciders and we enjoyed the apple one the best, enough for my brother to get a growler of it.

Willow Vineyards

The views here were phenomenal because Willow Vineyards is located at the top of a hill that overlooks the vineyard and the lake.  The wines weren’t bad but they seemed overpriced for their quality.  I only got one wine here–the Sweet Rain Chardonnay.

Suttons Bay Ciders

These ciders at Suttons Bay Ciders weren’t bad but when comparing them to our local favorite, Blake’s, they don’t compare, so this is why I couldn’t make it a favorite.  We enjoyed the Highlander and Smitten the best.  The others seemed a little watered down and didn’t have a full flavor like we would’ve liked.  But the views were great here too, so we couldn’t complain too much.

Ciccone Vineyard and Winery

Unlike the previous two vineyards, Ciccone had a dark, gothic look to it.  With a giant cross above the fireplace, dark wooded furniture and moody lighting, it seemed like we were walking into a church rather than a tasting room.  However, I can see this place being very cozy during the colder months.  We got a cheese and cracker board while here, which wasn’t anything impressive but we were hungry and needed some food.  Although we got two wines here, we didn’t need to.  They weren’t bad but a bit pricey.  We went with the Pacentro and Cabernet Franc.

Big Little Winery

We didn’t dislike Big Little Winery but it wasn’t comparable to some of the other places we went to.  It’s a cute place, run by a husband and wife team, with decent wines.  But they were pricey for what they were.  Out of all of the wines, the Crayfish was probably our favorite.

Black Star Farms

Here we have the Disneyworld of wine.  You can get Black Star at your local grocery store and the wine list is endless.  Don’t get me wrong, the place is beautiful but it lacks a certain intimacy due to the tasting room being so huge and crowded.  There are lines EVERYWHERE.  To taste wine, to check out, to look at wine in the cases.  It’s a madhouse.  And the wines didn’t impress me enough to buy anything or want to go back.  But since there’s so many wines on the list, I may have just tried the mediocre wines.  Who knows?  Til next time Black Star.

45 North Vineyard and Winery

I loved the layout of 45 North Vineyard and Winery.  It had a rustic chic feel to the tasting room, with barrels and horse saddles as decor.  But the wines didn’t wow us.  Out of all of them, the ones worth tasting were the Rose of Cabernet Franc, Winemaker’s Reserve Riesling, Sparkling Peach and Cherry Reserve.  But they were pretty pricey for the quality, so didn’t take any home with us.

Blustone Vineyards

Very modern and sleek, Blustone Vineyards was unlike any of the other vineyards.  Its minimalist design felt a bit cold but the view of the vineyard partially made up for it.  The wines here supposedly won many awards but we weren’t blown away.  However, I did come home with a Pinot Noir, so they weren’t bad, just don’t amazing.

Besides wineries, my brother and I stopped by Leland, where we explored Fishtown, which is a series of old buildings that dates back to where the early fisherman in Michgan lived.  It was a cute town and had little knick-knacks in its stores but was also very busy.

We also saw an absolutely gorgeous sunset at Christmas Cove.  Only one other person was on the beach, making it peaceful and serene.  It definitely tops the list as one of my favorite sunsets of all time.

Overall, Michael and I had a great weekend, tried lots of amazing wine and can’t wait to go back in the near future!

xoxo Kasia

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