In 1852 Reverend Peter Dougherty, a missionary to Native Americans, planted a cherry tree on Old Mission Peninsula. Thanks to well-drained soil and the frost-tempering effects of Lake Michigan on this 19-mile strip of dramatic geography, the tree flourished—and fathered an industry that made Traverse City the nation’s cherry capital. In more recent times, Old Mission farmers found that where cherries (and apples) grow happily, so do vineyards. The upshot of this fruitfulness is that when the peninsula explodes with blossoms (imagine cotton candy strewn across bright green hills) there is plenty of local wine to toast them with. The celebratory uncorking is called Blossom Days, and it happens on the third weekend of May (May 16 and 17 in 2009)—usually peak blossom time. Purchase a wine glass for $15 at any of the seven Old Mission wineries and taste your way through the peninsula’s chardonnays, pinot grigios, rieslings, cabernet francs, pinot noirs and gewürztraminers. (Good idea to have a designated driver for this fête.) Drink in blossom views between stops. If all that beauty leaves you feeling reverent, be at Chateau Chantal winery on Sunday at 12:30 for a nondenominational Blessing of the Blossoms. 231-223-4110, wineriesofoldmission.com.
Playing in Traverse City this weekend? MyNorht has lots more good stuff: see below.
Insider tips for Traverse City: Shop, Play, Eat, Stay
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