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Roll out of Traverse City and into the verdant hills of Old Mission Peninsula by turning north onto Garfield Road and veering right on M-37, also known as Center Road. Turn down McKinley Road East to find Black Star Farms Old Mission (231-944-1300, blackstarfarms.com), a beautiful space with an oak-barrel tasting bar, a fireplace and a long list of varietals and cherry wines.
Back on Center Road, Peninsula Cellars' tasting room (231-933-9787, peninsulacellars.com) is located inside the 114-year-old, red-trimmed, one-room Maple Grove Schoolhouse—with real chalkboards and a tiny wooden school desk outfitted with an inkwell. Belly up to the tasting bar to try "Detention," a red wine blend with notes of coffee and mocha. Pick up a few bottles of apple wine, perfect for a late-summer picnic or a casual soirée. It's also warm-the-bones tasty when mulled into a spiced wine. Just ask for the recipe.
Château Grand Traverse (231-223-7355, cgtwines.com) is the next stop up Center Road. The winery and inn is the spot to stock up on gifts and wine accoutrements like locally made cherry candy and pretty bottle toppers. It's also the place to sample some remarkable wines, including the award-winning semidry white Edelzwicker. Try the Cherry Wine Sangria, a wine waiting to be served with sliced fruit or mixed with club soda for a sweet summer cooler. Once you've made your way through the list of labels available for sampling—it covers an entire page, front and back—head outside for a gorgeous panorama of West Bay.
When you're ready to hit the road again, drive north and turn right on Blue Water Road, where you'll find Brys Estate (231-223-9303, brysestate.com). This 80-acre former farm is the site of an Old World-style tasting room, where you can view barrels of aging wine from where you sip. Vibrant, palm-sized hibiscus blooms greet you at the door. At the tasting bar inside, fall for the complex and full wines, like the knockout Pinot Noir and an equally fantastic Gewürztraminer.