Explore the shore near Traverse City, Michigan, for waterfront views and a variety of wines from estate-grown grapes. 

Friends enjoying wine on the Traverse Wine Coast in Traverse City, Michigan (photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism)

Traverse City, Michigan, might be known for cherries, but what the region does with grapes also leads travelers to chart a course for the Lake Michigan shore. While the larger Leelanau Peninsula is home to 20 wineries, the nearby Old Mission Peninsula offers a more relaxed vibe.

Set across this sleepy, 17-mile-long strip of land stands eight wineries, including Mari Vineyards, which has views of Grand Traverse Bay. The 73-acre vineyard offers wines made with estate-grown grapes such as Praefectus (a Bordeaux-style red) or the bright and zesty pinot bianco. The Tuscan-style winery offers a perfect spot to take in the bay’s bright blue water, and the locally made shortbread cookies complement the wines. 

Farther north, Bowers Harbor Vineyards provides a cozier, down-to-earth option for wine lovers. While Bowers Harbor offers dozens of wines by the glass, opt for the flights that come with four to five varieties based around a theme such as sweet, red or cider. Try the sparkling Brix, which offers watermelon and cantaloupe notes. No matter what wine you go with, pick up a tub of locally made white fish pate for a true taste of Michigan.

Keep the northerly trek going by heading to Mission Point Lighthouse at the top of the peninsula. The lighthouse, built in 1870, features artifacts and exhibits covering Great Lakes maritime history. For an extra $8, travelers can climb up into the tower for an elevated look at the lake.

The Boathouse Restaurant’s indoor patio offers views of a small marina and Power Island in the distance. The French-inspired menu features dishes such as rack of elk, Lake Michigan walleye and a seafood tower loaded with oysters, shrimp, salmon and more — the perfect way to wrap up an afternoon of wine exploration. For more information about wineries in the Traverse Wine Coast, visit traversecity.com/wineries.