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When Two Lads winery opens this May on Old Mission Peninsula, it will bring the tally of wineries in Northern Michigan's vineyard country to more than 20. Just getting to these wineries is a delicious experience, as you cruise across hilly Northern peninsulas blanketed with vines and edged with 150 miles of water-kissed shoreline. Old Mission and Leelanau peninsulas, set on the famous 45th parallel, finger out into deep, glacier-carved Lake Michigan - the tempering waters behind some of the world's finest Rieslings and Gewürztraminer grapes. The geography creates as many fine wines as it does unforgettable days on quiet beaches drenched in sun. Read on for three getaway pairings to fill one glorious weekend with water and wine.
The hills sheltered between Lake Leelanau's west shoreline and Good Harbor Bay are home to a handful of delightful wineries. The bay is shimmering just across the road at Good Harbor Vineyards south of Leland, and inside you can taste Fishtown White, Harbor Red and sparkling hard cider. Just a skip to the southwest, find petite Château Fontaine, one of the first Michigan wineries with estate-grown Shiraz, delicious when blended with Cabernet Franc and Merlot in Fontaine's Woodland Red.
An arresting Lake Leelanau overlook was the inspiration for Bel Lago Winery's name. Winemaker Charlie Edson is renowned for his premium red blend, Tempesta. Sip mead - made from fermented honey - at Cedar's Longview Winery and ask to hear the romantic story behind the winery's name.
From any of these wineries, you're never more than a quick westerly jaunt from pretty Good Harbor Bay. Access is down a washboard dirt road at the junction of M-22 and Good Harbor Trail (C-651) in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Pick up beach-ready fresh sandwiches like turkey and brie on a baguette at the Village Cheese Shanty (199 W. River, 231-256-9141), up the road in Leland's historic Fishtown. Go ahead, uncork some wine to go with your picnic, but decant it into a nonglass vessel beforehand (The National Park Service is a stickler about glass on the beach).
Fall asleep to the sound of the Leland River at rustic-elegant The Riverside Inn. Don't miss Sunday brunch on the river - apple cinnamon pancakes or Riverside Benedict with smoked Gouda cream sauce - while the boats putter by outside. (302 River St., 888-257-0102, theriverside-inn.com)