Our look at some of the favorite routes in Leelanau County rolls on with a look at the beautiful Grand Traverse Bay Loop. If you love wineries, views of West Bay, and some of the nicest and most knowledgeable folks around, we’ve got just the tour for you! The Grand Traverse Bay Loop focuses primarily on the eastern side of Leelanau Peninsula, which is perhaps marked most strongly by a steep ridge that overlooks the west arm of Grand Traverse Bay. That ridge provides simply stunning views of vineyard and water, but also creates an ideal growing setting. Like many wineries in the area, the water on all three sides helps to regulate temperatures that are easier on the vines. The area will stay a little cooler in spring and a little warmer in fall, influenced by lake temperature, which is much more gentle on the grapes.
Another advantage to the rolling hills is that it allows the rows of grapes to get more sun throughout the day, a vital ingredient for a full-bodied, healthy harvest. It also means even in those rolling, undulating hills, the water table isn’t too deep for the roots to access as well.
Meet The Wineries
It certainly all works out in Leelanau County, where there are dozens of vineyards producing a wide variety of whites and reds, with the regional offering being its famous Riesling. That’s usually the first pour at what is often our first stop, Brengman Brothers. Nestled just a short ways from the water, this vineyard is a sun-soaked getaway and the closest to Traverse City on the loop.
Traveling happily north along famous M22, there’s another cluster of vineyards taking advantage of the elevation -and the views- near Hilltop Road. Chateau de Leelanau, Willow Vineyards, Ciccone Vineyard and Winery, plus L. Mawby, all are with an easy stroll of each other. On a beautiful spring or summer day, it’s easy to amble between this beautiful places and sample a collection of the most established vines in the county. It’s also not a bad spot to ride a bicycle to, either. The Leelanau Trail runs north and south between Traverse City and the village of Suttons Bay. The non-motorized path brings you through orchards and along vineyards. It’s a short climb to the wineries but think of it as your test of strength before setting down to a well-earned Riesling reward.
Only a few miles further north is Black Star Farms, one of the giants of Leelanau and a true treasure. Blessed with some of the best vineyards and an awe-inspiring tasting room, Black Star Farms is also an inn, with exquisite dining options at the Hearth and Vine Cafe, too.
On The Way Home
Our final two stops of the Grand Traverse Loop are just off ‘the main drag’, starting with our furthest point north, Boskydel Vineyard. You just have to swap views of the bay with views of Lake Leelanau, which is a square deal, we assure you! Boskydel can be a welcome break from some of the busier locations. Especially in peak summer, Boksydel is a treat for wine enthusiasts who want to slow down and enjoy an extra few moments simply lingering. It’s one of our favorites stops of the tour and one that our drivers are always excited to include.
Heading back south toward Traverse City, the Grand Traverse Loop wouldn’t be complete without a look in at Shady Lane Cellars. The vineyard sits to one side with a breath-taking view of the bay sits at your feet on Shady Lane, one of the many quiet and winding roads that make our tours so memorable.
You can always find something new, and we’ll help you to discover the many treasures Northern Michigan has to offer. To find out more about the Grand Traverse Loop, more Leelanau wine tours, or our other tour packages, call us today and let’s make a date!