Wind up M-37, also known as Center Road, for access to Old Mission Peninsula’s great wineries (wineriesofoldmission.com) and some of the area’s prettiest views. Begin at Peninsula Cellars (11480 Center Rd., M-37, 231-933-9787, peninsulacellars.com), housed in a historic one-room schoolhouse, for the sweet mixed-berry “Detention” and ginger-cherry spiced “Hot Rod.” Chalkboards still flank the walls, and a school desk with an inkwell sits in the corner to stand testament to the building’s history.
Chateau Grand Traverse (12239 Center Rd., 231-223-7355, cgtwines.com) offers a cobblestone tasting room snuggled into a 68-acre vineyard, which you can tour before savoring expressive wines, including renowned Rieslings that have garnered attention on a national scale. Chateau Grand Traverse’s dry Riesling pairs especially well with seafood, so consider picking up a bottle to pair with some fresh Lake Michigan whitefish. Go ahead and wander outside; the view here is just beautiful, so drink it in while giving a pet to the owner’s friendly Samoyeds, who patrol the place with boundless enthusiasm.
At Brys Estates (3309 Blue Water Rd., 231-223-9303, brysestate.com), the watery smell of geraniums fills the air just outside the vaulted, Old World-style tasting room, where you can sink into the rich leather sofas and relish signature reds like pinot noirs, cabernet francs and merlots. For something a little lighter, try sips from the charming, fun Wally’s Wine Yard labels.
Wind up and around a sprawling bluff through acres of grapevines to Chateau Chantal (15900 Rue de Vin, 231-223-4110, chateauchantal.com). The French-style chateau is open daily year round, offering knockout views, jazz nights, culinary classes and a lovely B&B for romantic overnight stays. Step into the tasting room to sample a number of award-winning wines, including the signature “Cerise,” an incredible, award-winning cherry port.
Wander under the vine-entangled trellis to the cozy countertops of Bowers Harbor Vineyards (2896 Bowers Harbor Vineyard, 231-223-7615, bowersharbor.com), an intimate winery overlooking Bowers Harbor and offering estate-grown merlots and cabernets as well as an array of creative whites and sparkling wines. Black Star Farms (360 McKinley Rd. E., 231-944-1300, blackstarfarms.com), the only local winery with a presence on Leelanau and Old Mission Peninsulas, dishes up its award-winning wines and fruit brandies in its swanky new tasting room on McKinley Road.
Be among the first to sample the fine sips at Two Lads Winery (16985 Smokey Hollow Rd., 231-223-7722, 2Lwinery.com), the newest winery on the peninsula. The tasting room opens in early May 2008 and specializes in reds and sparkling wines.
QUICK BITE: Settle in at a table with a sunset view at Boathouse Restaurant, on the shores of Bowers Harbor. The house favorite—fresh Lake Superior whitefish topped with blue lump crabmeat and artichoke-caper buerre blanc—is best paired with a glass of local chardonnay. (14039 Peninsula Dr., 231-223-4030, boathouseonwestbay.com)