Our celebration of Leelanau Peninsula rolls on, and after taking a look at the beautiful Sleeping Bear Loop, we look a little further north for a few vineyards and cider houses that brush up to the very tip of the Peninsula. Veteran wine connoisseur or eager adventurer, Old Mission Tour brings you the best of a truly unforgettable place in the world.
The scenic drive along world-famous M22 is worth the trip alone, but trust us, there’s plenty more to get excited about you roll through the charming village of Suttons Bay. M22 runs along West Bay, with views of boats, beaches, and the long and winding arm of Old Mission Peninsula across the water. The drive offers a number of pleasant scenic stops to snap some photos and stretch the legs, as well as local fruit stands in the height of summer.
There is a perfect cluster of stops along M204. This rolling road divides the peninsula into north and south halves, with much of the Northern Loop focused within a few miles of this stretch, which makes it very easy to inspect and explore a number of wineries relatively quickly. We won’t be in too much of a rush to move on, of course, and it would be easy to spend the day at any of these wonderful stops.
One of the few wineries on the list actually south of M204 is where we love to start. In the picturesque town of Lake Leelanau, the fittingly named Boathouse Vineyards. It’s not just a clever name; boats and cars both have easy access to the tasting room, which is backed by a fireplace and overlooks the lake. Walk the docks, explore the shops, and cozy up back at the Boathouse to enjoy their famous Cocktail Hour, or simply talk about the day.
Away from the lakeshore, Aurora Cellars and Forty-Five North Vineyard and Winery sit on hilltops with sweeping, postcard views in every direction. Forty Five North Vineyard also boasts a hiking trail that weaves through the vines and a knot of pine trees for a 300 foot climb up to the highest point around. Make it to the summit and you’ll have a few of nearly every winery, farm, orchard and home within ten miles. The tasting room is one of our favorites, too, with a fireplace in winter and a cool, quiet loft as well.
The famous Setterbo Road is just east, and just as you leave West Bay behind you, you’ll find yourself stopping at Raftshol Vineyards for something dry and white. Almost next door, French Valley Vineyards is also home to a Bistro, where the classic barn and rolling fields are like stepping from Northern Michigan into Bordeaux, France. Home to weddings, events, and those pleasant relaxed moments with friends, this area is as perfect as it gets.
Our cider friends will finally be in their element as your Old Mission Tour heads up Setterbo for a quick stop at Tandem Ciders. The tasting room is certainly nice, but as the weather warms up, the roaring fire pits and porch are where the real action is. Tandem Ciders offers local ciders and a great place to catch up. It even served as the after party to the 2016 Cherry-Roubaix grandfondo, with over 300 tired cyclists happily enjoying the afternoon with cider and friends.
Just a short ways north lies Silverleaf Vineyard and Winery, the third-most northerly stop on the trip. The second furthest north is Leelanau Wine Cellars in Omena. Omena is a small town that overlooks West Bay, with a little cove of its own to harbor peaceful waters and a few small restaurants and shops for travelers en route to Northport or the Leelanau State Park.
For folks who can’t help but take in the historic lighthouse, it’s a good time to check out Green Bird Organic Cellars and Farms. Located on the western arm on M22 as it heads south towards Leland. Green Bird is famous for its white offerings, with award-winning Pinots to enjoy as you explore the farm and learn about the sustainable, organic farming techniques the vineyard maintains.
Finally, as yet another treat, Old Mission Tours gives you Leland. The stuff of lore, “Fishtown” is an historic stop that you won’t soon forget. Even locals from Traverse City never tire from the drive north, stopping for a sandwich, a knick-knack, and certainly a bottle of wine from Verterra Winery, right in the very heart of the village.
The Northern Loop is a great way to visit the wineries and towns that somehow escape the hustle and bustle of even peak tourist season, where any and all are welcome and time spent there with friends seems extra special. Old Mission Tours is always thrilled to show people this slightly less traveled route, and we know you’ll love spending time in such lovely places.