Michigan Winery Reviews
Bowers Harbor Vineyards - When I visited the website of this Traverse City, Michigan winery, the home page raved about their entertaining and informative staff. The staff may have been informative (I'm not sure because I didn't ask any questions), but the young girls at the tasting counter acted like they would rather be any place else but behind the counter pouring wine. I'm not sure anyone even cracked a smile. Regardless...Bowers Harbor is a very lovely winery.
This small, boutique winery is situated on the Old Mission Peninsula. The scenery is beautiful and they have a very nice area with tables and chairs where customers can sit and enjoy the view of Bowers Harbor and the vineyards. We sampled a few of the wines that they offered and looked around at the various personalized Bowers Harbor items they had for sale. The best wine that we sampled was a cherry wine, so we purchased a bottle before we left.
A big plus...Bowers Harbor Vineyards is one of the few Michigan wineries we have come across that actually sells wine by the glass. We enjoy staying at a winery for awhile to soak in the atmosphere, but most wineries in Michigan don't give you any reason to stay any longer than the tasting. We contemplated ordering a glass and a snack so we could sit outside for awhile, but in the end decided not to. The employees didn't seem very inviting...and when I heard they only served goat cheese...that was the deciding factor. We had a few more wineries to visit, so we opted to move on.
Brys Estate Vineyard and Winery - Style and elegance...that's what you'll find from the minute you walk in the door of this Traverse City, Michigan winery. The first thing we noticed was the immaculate, open tasting room. Lots of brick, dark wood and leather furniture...the room seemed to have a gentleman's touch. I have to admit, after looking around the stylish tasting room, I expected a "snooty" welcome as we approached the woman behind the tasting counter. I was pleasantly surprised when she greeted us with a warm smile and began to make small talk with us. This friendly woman then told us about the history of this estate winery, which is also the newest winery in Michigan and offered us some samples.
We sampled four of their wines, which were all on the dry side, but that seems to be par for the course in this particular area of Michigan. After purchasing a bottle of our favorite, we went back outside to admire the beautiful view of the vineyards. Our visit to Brys Estate was certainly a rewarding experience and I would highly recommend stopping by when in the Traverse City area.
Chateau Chantal - Since I am a frequent wine traveler, plenty of people ask me to recommend wineries for them to visit. I usually ask them what type of experience they are looking for. If they request superb wine, an attentive staff, and a gorgeous view of Lake Michigan....I will certainly suggest this winery in Traverse City, Michigan.
I hate to admit it...but I was slightly hung-over when we arrived at Chateau Chantal. We had arrived in Traverse City late the previous evening and Gary surprised me with a bottle of my favorite Indiana wine that he had brought to drink that night at the hotel. Needless to say, since it was my favorite I ended up drinking the whole bottle myself and left Gary nursing on a Bud Light. Even though my head was slightly throbbing upon arrival at Chateau Chantal, I was immediately taken away by the sweeping view in every direction. From the moment I stepped out of the car I felt like I was in wine paradise. The view of the vineyards surrounded by water as far as the eye could see was extraordinary. It was so beautiful outside, I almost didn't want to go inside...but we did.
Even though a large group walked through the door at the same time we did, we were immediately greeted by a friendly staff member. We approached the tasting counter and tried several of their award-winning wines. The Chateau Chantal staff handled a very full tasting counter very well. Everyone was receiving personal attention and the staff did a great job of keeping the process flowing. This being our first stop of the morning (and me still dealing with a slight headache) I stepped away from the counter to peruse the tasting room while Gary sampled a few more wines. When Gary was finished, he found me admiring the view again from a large picture window near the grand piano.
We decided to purchase some of their unique Sparking Cherry wine before moving on to the next winery. Chateau Chantal provides a great all-around tasting experience and would be the perfect stop for anyone...especially the first-time wine taster. The attentive staff and huge selection of wines to sample, combined with the extraordinary view, will make your visit to Chateau Chantal an experience to remember.
Chateau Grand Traverse - We arrived at this Traverse City, Michigan winery just in time for one of their free hourly tours, so we decided to tag along. When it began, a young man showed us to a deck overlooking the vineyards. He talked about the climate and the varieties of grapes that they grow. One interesting thing he said was that they didn't grow concord grapes, which were only good for juice and jelly, because concord grapes didn't produce a very good wine. I think there are many people out there that would disagree with this statement...including me. I've had some very good concord wine. Anyway...he then showed us to the room where they crush the grapes and on to the area where they make and bottle the wine. The tour was short and sweet.
After our tour, we proceeded to the tasting counter. Chateau Grand Traverse is the oldest and largest winery in northern Michigan, and they had many, many wines to choose from. They offered complimentary tastings, but only six samples were allowed. There were so many wines that it was hard to narrow them down to six choices. Our favorite of the wines we tried was the Cherry Ginseng. It combined their cherry wine with Wisconsin ginseng root extract. It had a very unique flavor that we enjoyed very much.
After our tasting, we picked up a bottle of the Cherry Ginseng and browsed their large selection of gift items. I ended up buying a Chateau Grand Traverse wine box. It was a smaller two-bottle holder and I thought my mother would like it as a decorative item. We were greeted at the cash register by the same friendly woman that hosted our tasting. Our visit to Chateau Grand Traverse was pleasant and informative. Anyone that wants to experience a total tasting package with a winery tour should definitely stop by.
Peninsula Cellars - Our visit to this Traverse City, Michigan winery was our last stop on Old Mission Peninsula. We had been to four other wineries on the peninsula...and this one didn't seem as "grand" as some of the others...but I was very pleased when I walked in the door. Peninsula Cellars has a unique charm that you won't find anywhere else in the area.
The tasting room is inside an old schoolhouse...and when you walk in you feel like you're back in school. There's even a black board on the wall where someone has been writing sentences. "I will only drink good wine." is written repeatedly across the board in chalk. We approached the tasting counter and I was hoping someone would ask for my ID, but they didn't.. (There was a sign posted that anyone who looked like they were under the age of 30 would be asked to show their ID...wishful thinking on my part). The employees were friendly and casual. It was a very relaxed tasting atmosphere. The wine list featured many, many varieties that sounded delicious. Peninsula Cellars offers a free tasting of six wines, so we got busy choosing six.
They offered both grape and fruit wines, some of which even had school-themed names. We added "Detention" to our list along with some fruit wines. They had a very nice selection sure to please anyone. After our tasting we picked up a few bottles of wine and I couldn't resist buying a t-shirt for my son. It had the "I will only drink good wine" chalkboard depicted on the front and back. Peninsula Cellars was a nice break from the traditional wineries we had been to earlier in the day. This winery is certainly worth a visit.