Michigan Uncorked in the Old Mission Peninsula

michigan wineries uncorked

The Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula

This beautiful wine-producing region is located at the Earth’s 45th Parallel—renowned as one of the very best climates for growing grapes and getting them ready for the crush.

Old Mission Peninsula in Traverse City, Michigan is a special place. Actually, it’s among the elite. That’s because this peninsula is located along the exact same parallel as winemaking superstars Bordeaux, France; Piedmont, Italy; and the Willamette Valley in Oregon. If you’re a connoisseur of beverages produced by fermenting the juice of fruits, then you know that when it comes to making wine, the 45th Parallel is unparalleled.

At 19 miles long and 3 miles wide, Old Mission Peninsula is located in Grand Traverse Bay—and naturally insulated by the moderating effects of its deep waters. With depths of 400 feet in the East Bay and 600 feet in the West Bay, the water also acts as a barrier help to prevent frost during the growing season while keeping air temperatures mild throughout the long months of winter. All of which make for a desirable climate on the peninsula.

Chateau Grand Traverse

Grand-Traverse-ViewIn 1974, Edward O’Keefe Jr. did something that had never been done before in Northern Michigan—he did some research and started a winery. Armed with confidence and convinced that European grapes would thrive in the region, he began planting Riesling, Chardonnay and Merlot varieties on 45 acres which used to be a cherry orchard.

But wine critics and industry experts were quick to try to squash his dreams. They believed Michigan was too cold and harsh for such an endeavor. In their eyes, his wines were destined to be labeled “O’Keefe’s Folly.” Turns out, these tender European varieties were right at home in Traverse City. So much so that Chateau Grand Traverse began a large-scale planting of European varieties and winning awards, leading to the opening of the first commercial vineyard in Northern Michigan.

More than 30 years later, the winery remains family owned and operated with a focus on 12 European Vinifera grape varietals including: Pinot Blanc, Gewürztraminer, Grüner Veltliner, Muscat Ottenal, Gamay Noir and Cabernet Franc.

Chateau-Chantal-WineChateau Chantal

Like so many other wineries on the peninsula, Chateau Chantal repurposed cherry orchards to make way for grape vines—specifically, those of the Vinifera variety. From the dry, light and sweet to the reds and delicates, every bottle is meticulously handcrafted under the watchful eye and strict supervision of the vineyard’s winemaker. This dedication to producing the highest-quality wine has garnered Chateau Chantal a bevy of awards, including six gold medals at the prestigious Taster’s Guild International Wine Competition in 2009.

Chantal Chateau is open daily all year long and is proud to be an environmentally assured farm verified by the state of Michigan. The winery offers wine tastings, tours, dinners, wine-cooking classes, seminars and special events like Jazz at Sunset concerts. Be sure to visit the Wine Shop for your chance to take home a specially produced bottle of wine.

Brys Estate

In 1970, Detroit natives Walter and Eileen Brys visited California’s Napa Valley. Naturally, they fell in love with the area—especially the vineyards and wineries. They returned home and spent the next 30 years working, sending their kids to college, thinking about wineries and eventually retiring in Florida. Realizing retirement wasn’t for them, they set out on a journey in search of the perfect vineyard and winery. After stops in popular spots like California and Oregon, they headed back to Michigan after hearing about Northern Michigan’s reputation for growing grapes.

Like they did so many years before, the Brys fell in love again. This time an 80-acre farm on Old Mission Peninsula captured their hearts. The Brys Estate is a boutique winery that handpicks every grape and produces wine in small batches. Setting the bar to higher standards has earned them more than 220 medals and awards. Their Wine Literary Award in San Francisco honored their 2005 Cabernet Franc with “Best New Red Wine Discovery” and took home the Harding Cup in 2009 for best Cab Franc in Michigan.

This state-of-the-art winery uses traditional French oak barrels to age their reds. Sample a taste of their yield in a beautiful mahogany tasting room constructed with old-world bricks. It’s a pure Michigan experience like no other.

The award-winning cool-climate wines of Old Mission Peninsula are among the very best in the world. Raise a glass and toast the wineries of Northern Michigan on your next vacation to Mountain Run at Boyne.

Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula

Brys-Estate-cask-room2 Lads Winery
16985 Smokey Hollow Road
Traverse City, MI

Chateau Chantal
15900 Rue de Vin
Traverse City, MI

Bowers Harbor Vineyards
2896 Bowers Habor Road
Traverse City, MI

Brys Estate East ViewBrys Estate Vineyard & Winery
3309 Blue Water Road
Traverse City, MI

Chateau Grand Traverse
12239 Center Road
Traverse City, MI

Peninsula Cellars
11480 Center Road (M-37)
Traverse City, MI

Grand Traverse VineyardHawthorne Vineyards
1000 Camino Maria Drive
Traverse City, MI

Black Star Farms
360 McKinley Rd. East
Traverse City, MI