Traverse City – Part III – Old Mission Wineries

Traverse City Day 3 – Friday, July 30, 2010

Forgive me, as I am going to depart from my food-themed blogging today, and focus on WINE! Close enough, right? The third day of our vacay was WINE DAY. We head up the Old Mission Peninsula to check out five out of the seven wineries that are currently located there. The wineries of the Old Mission Peninsula are located on the 45th parallel, and given the “micro-climate” of the area, nicely surrounded on three sides by water, which keeps the area cooler in the spring and warmer for a longer period during the fall, it is apparently a desirable place for vineyards.

Furthest south, we encountered Black Star Farms. If you tuned in to Part II of my Traverse City blogs, you have have seen that we also visited the Black Star Farms location in Suttons Bay, and today we visited this other location of theirs.

Here is the outside of the Black Star Farms of Old Mission tasting room. For $5 you got to try 6 wines and got to keep a souvenir wine glass. I purchased a bottle of Artisan Red and a bottle of Pear Wine. The lovely Pear Wine was a steal at $8/bottle on sale. I was a fan of their round bar in the tasting room, it was a nice, relaxed atmosphere (though we were there quite early – around 11 AM!).

Next we drove a bit north to Chateau Grand Traverse, the first winery to be established on the Old Mission Peninsula.

We were able to partake in not only a complementary tasting, but also a free tour of the grounds, cellar, and bottling area at this winery. We also got a peek at their relatively new bottling facilities – but no pics of those! Top secret. 🙂 Here is a picture of their vineyards, on a sloping hill overlooking the water. A beautiful setting!

Oak barrels in their cellar. I always wondered if these were re-usable and learned that they are, and apparently have a life of around 4-7 years-ish.

I was slightly reprimanded for taking this pic!:

I bought a bottle of Cherry Wine Sangria at Chateau Grand Traverse. It tasted of various fruity flavors, like banana, pineapple, and orange, and it was suggested to us that this wine would taste nice topped off with ginger ale. That sold me, when I started thinking of filling my big glass pitcher with this wine, adding chunks of all the fruit flavors I tasted, and topping it off with ginger ale. And then I started thinking about laying out on my deck with a glass of it and a tiny umbrella. Sold. Entice you yet?!

Here is a view of the winery:

We pulled off the road onto this scenic overlook during our journey. Pretty nice, eh? You can actually see water on both sides of the road!

Next we detoured back a bit south again, to this winery we had missed: Peninsula Cellars.

This was an old school house converted into a tasting room. Homework and Detention were some of the wine names at this place. I opted to buy a bottle of the 2006 Merlot.

Given the small breakfast we had, and the fact that’d we’d already tasted over 15 wines, we though it was time to grab some lunch! We found this restaurant on the peninsula, called Boathouse.

I ordered the Whitefish in a lemon caper butter sauce, accompanied by pasta salad and a big, meaty, super-delish crabcake. Excellent lunch overlooking the water!

Tom had ribs on the brain, and soon after, in his belly:

View from our table:

After lunch we headed to Brys Estate. Their tasting room was pretty elegant and chic, but their wine selection not huge and was a bit pricy (lack of less-pricey options, as the other wineries offered). However, the tasting was $3 and you were able to use that money toward a wine purchase. I purchased a $20 bottle of pink sparkling wine (2009 Cabernet Franc/Merlot Rośe Sparkling Wine), which they produced in celebration of their 5th anniversary, which I just loved!

Our last stop was Chateau Chantal, far and above the most scenic location of all five wineries we visited, including spectacular views of rolling hills of vineyards overlooking the water and a charming and stately winery building. From what I understand, this winery is located on the highest location in the Old Mission Peninsula. We timed our trip to Chateau Chantal so that we could partake in a tour here as well.

View of Chateau Chantal vineyards overlooking the water:

A complementary tasting is provided at Chateau Chantal, for which you are given six “tokens,” to use as you please. Most wine tastes required one token, while some of the pricier wines would require two tokens. I was impressed by the wines I tasted (they had a some nice rieslings I wish I had also purchased!), and eventually opted to buy their Cherry Wine.

My wine purchases for the day! All in all, I think we tasted somewhere around 30-35 wines! Not bad! Definitely a great way to spend a perfect summer day.

Stay tuned for my next post which will entail something located at the END of the Old Mission wine trail!

12 thoughts on “Traverse City – Part III – Old Mission Wineries

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