Northern Michigan Wineries: Top 5 Destinations

May 16, 2024

Northern Michigan is the Mitten State’s very own Napa Valley, offering visitors a fun and fruitful way to explore the region’s picturesque wine country. Are you heading “up north” soon and looking to sip your way through your trip? Then, this is the guide for you! 

From the enchanting vineyards of Old Mission Peninsula to the rolling hills of Leelanau Peninsula, here we’ll unveil the must-visit destinations in the area for wine enthusiasts. Even more? After you learn which Northern Michigan wineries to visit, we’ll cover insider tips for planning your visit and the diverse wine selection that awaits you. 

Keep reading to plan your adventure through Northern Michigan's vibrant wine country and uncork a world of flavor and discovery.

The Top 5 Northern Michigan Wineries to Visit 

Northern Michigan was listed as one of CNN’s top places to visit—in the entire world—for good reason. It’s an area renowned for its picturesque landscapes, Great Lakes views, and flourishing wine industry. 

Are you visiting the area for pleasure or wine exploration specifically? Here are five of the top wineries to visit in the region. 

Chateau Chantal

Located on the Old Mission Peninsula near Traverse City, Chateau Chantal offers breathtaking views of the Grand Traverse Bay and world-class wines. This winery is popular for producing European-style and quality wines with locally grown grapes. 

Visitors can enjoy guided tours of the vineyards, tastings in their elegant tasting room and if you love what they offer? Join their wine club to experience the vino year-round! 

Black Star Farms

Situated in Suttons Bay, Black Star Farms is celebrated for its award-winning wines and culinary experiences. Currently, the winery is the only one in the state to be awarded ‘Best in Show’ at the Canberra International Riesling Competition

The winery boasts a diverse range of wines, including Riesling, Pinot Noir, and fruit wines made from cherries and apples. In addition to wine tastings, visitors can explore the sprawling estate, indulge in gourmet food at their on-site restaurant, and even visit the farm's creamery and distillery.

Mawby Vineyards

Specializing in sparkling wines and sustainable practices, Mawby is located in Sutton Bay on the Leelanau Peninsula and offers a unique tasting experience for wine enthusiasts. The winery is celebrating 50 years of wine-making and is well-known for its expertise in producing sparkling wines using traditional methods, such as méthode champenoise. 

While visiting the winery, you can enjoy tastings of their effervescent creations while soaking in the serene countryside views.

Mari Vineyards

Mari Vineyards, located on the Old Mission Peninsula, is well-liked by locals and tourists for its dedication to making premium, estate-grown wines. With a focus on Italian varietals such as Nebbiolo and Sangiovese, Mari Vineyards offers visitors a taste of Michigan's unique crops. 

Guests can enjoy tastings in their modern tasting room or take guided tours of the vineyards and production facilities.

Shady Lane Cellars

Shady Lane Cellars is known for its sustainably farmed vineyards and handcrafted wines and is located in the heart of the Leelanau Peninsula. Visitors can sample a diverse selection of wines, including Chardonnay, Riesling, and Pinot Noir while enjoying panoramic views of the rolling vineyards from their inviting tasting room or outdoor patio.

Each of these Northern Michigan wineries offers a distinct ambiance, an array of wines, and experiences that showcase the beauty and diversity of the area’s wine country. From seasoned wine connoisseurs to casual enthusiasts, each of these wineries offers remarkable tasting journeys.

Tips for Visiting Northern Michigan Wineries 

Visiting wineries is one of the most popular things for adult visitors to the region. Of course, before you go, it’s best to learn the formalities of visiting them to be prepared. 

So, if you’re a novice to winery tours and tastings, here are some things visitors should know to make the most of their time in the region:

Tasting Room Hours

Winery tasting rooms typically have set hours of operation, which may vary by season. It's a good idea to check the winery's website or call ahead to confirm their hours before visiting. Some wineries may also require reservations for tastings, especially during peak times.

Designated Driver or Transportation

Wine tasting involves sampling multiple wines, so it's essential to have a designated driver especially if you plan to visit multiple wineries in a day. Alternatively, consider booking a tour with a local transportation service or joining a guided wine tour to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Tasting Fees and Policies

Many wineries charge a fee for tastings, which typically include a flight or samples of several wines. Some wineries waive tasting fees if you purchase a bottle of wine or offer discounts on wine purchases after the tasting. 

Be sure to inquire about tasting fees and specific policies before beginning your tasting experience.

Winery Etiquette

When visiting Northern Michigan wineries (or any for that matter!), it's important to be respectful of the staff, other visitors, and the property. Avoid wearing strong perfumes or colognes that can interfere with the tasting experience. Take your time to savor each wine and engage with the staff to learn more about the winery and its offerings.

Local Cuisine and Attractions

Michigan is not only a wine destination but is also well-traveled for its culinary scene and natural beauty. Consider pairing your winery visits with trips to local restaurants, farm markets, orchards, and outdoor activities such as hiking, boating, or exploring nearby beaches and parks.

With these tips in mind, visitors can enjoy a memorable experience exploring wineries while taking in the region's culture and natural beauty.

Northern Michigan Wine Selections: What to Expect 

Now, let’s get into the good stuff. What can you expect to be sipping on while touring Northern Michigan wineries? The area offers a diverse selection of wines, especially cool-climate varieties that thrive in the region's unique terroir. 

Which, by definition, means “the complete natural environment in which a particular wine is produced, including factors such as the soil, topography, and climate.”

More specifically, here are the selections you can expect to enjoy: 

  • Riesling: Riesling is one of the most common wines from Northern Michigan. The region's climate and well-drained soils produce crisp, aromatic rieslings with vibrant acidity. You'll find a range of styles, from bone-dry to lusciously sweet late-harvest rieslings.
  • Chardonnay: Chardonnay grapes also thrive there, yielding elegant and complex wines with bright acidity and balanced fruit flavors. Unoaked and lightly oaked Chardonnays are common, showcasing the purity of the fruit and the region's terroir.
  • Pinot Noir: Pinot Noir is another prominent variety, producing expressive wines with delicate red fruit flavors and silky textures. For Pinot Noir, Michigan’s cool temperatures and sandy soils contribute to its elegance and finesse. 
  • Sparkling Wine: Many wineries in the area specialize in sparkling wines, crafted using traditional methods such as méthode champenoise. Sparkling wines from the region exhibit crisp acidity, fine bubbles, and notes of citrus and stone fruit.
  • Fruit Wines: In addition to traditional grape wines, this region is known for its fruit wines made from locally grown fruits such as cherries, apples, and peaches. These wines range from dry to sweet and offer a taste of the region's abundant fruit harvest.

Whether you're a fan of crisp whites, elegant reds, or sparkling wines, you're sure to find something to suit your palate among the offerings in the area.

Seasonal Considerations for Northern Michigan Wineries 

Michigan experiences the true four seasons, with summer being the peak tourist season. However, as many native Michiganders already know, fall is also a popular time due to the changing colors of the leaves and local harvest festivals. 

That means it’s important to consider the time of year you plan to visit, as it can affect the availability of tours, events, and the ambiance of the wineries. As mentioned earlier, some wineries may not even be open in the winter or early spring. 

With that in mind, here are some seasonal factors travelers should consider:


The weather and temperatures in general are best in the summer (June to August). Michigan's summer’s warm temperatures and sunny days are ideal for vineyard tours and outdoor wine tasting. Fall is also a popular month for visitors due to its cooler, sweater-weather temperatures and stunning foliage. 

As for winter, with cold and snow, your wine tour may be restricted to indoors, while spring offers milder temperatures but frequent rain. 

Harvest seasons

With limited outdoor cultivation seasons, fall is harvest time in the state, when wineries are bustling with activity as grapes are harvested and processed. If you’d enjoy participating in grape picking events, tours of the vineyards at work, or special harvest-themed tastings, fall is the time to plan your trip.  

Crowds and tourists 

Summer and fall are the busiest times for tourism, especially in popular destinations like Traverse City and the surrounding wine regions. Accommodations, restaurants, and wineries may be more crowded during these seasons, so travelers should plan accordingly and consider making reservations in advance, especially for lodging and wine tastings.

Local events 

Northern Michigan hosts events and festivals throughout the year, ranging from wine festivals and food events to cultural celebrations and outdoor concerts. Always check the event calendars for the region and plan your visit around any events or activities you’re interested in attending - or avoiding! 

Northern Michigan Wineries: Plan Your Getaway

We hope this guide helps you discover the essence of Northern Michigan wineries with our guide to the top five vineyards to visit, along with essential tips for making the most of your experience. 

Whether you're a seasoned wine enthusiast or a curious novice, embark on a sensory journey through Northern Michigan's vibrant wine scene and uncover a world of flavor and adventure. 

But before you go, be sure to secure accommodations well in advance. Explore OTIS, Harbor Spring’s premier boutique hotel, to experience an intimate stay while taking in the area’s breathtaking beauty. 

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