Michigan celebrates Michigan Wine Month in May, making it a great time to visit the Sleeping Bear Dunes region.

Black Star FarmsAs we gear up for Memorial Day weekend, and the start of vacation season, there is another reason to say cheers. This Saturday, May 25, has been designated National Wine Day. It’s a perfect reason to visit your favorite winery and raise a glass to wine, its rich heritage, and the beautiful regions where wine grapes grow.  

You can also pair a dune climb with a wine tour and beat the summer crowds during a May getaway to Sleeping Bear Dunes. As the cherry trees bloom and the forests turn green, the Sleeping Bear region comes back to life and bustles with renewed energy.

The region’s wineries offer unique tasting rooms, scenic vistas, live music, and special events to celebrate Michigan Wine Month. Along the way, stop at a roadside farmstand, shop at an art gallery or antique store, or find a trail and hike among spring wildflowers.  

Michigan wine facts

The Great Lakes region creates an optimal climate for growing grapes, especially along Lake Michigan. The lake keeps the air cool along the coast. Winter snow cover helps insulate the vines from extreme cold.

According to the 2024 Wine Month proclamation, Michigan wine stats include:

  • Over 45 varieties of wine grapes grow in Michigan, including Niagara, Concord, Riesling, and Pinot Noir. 

  • Industry includes over 3,375 acres of wine grapes and nearly 200 wineries and tasting rooms.

  • Winemakers produce red, white, and specialty wines, including ice wine, sparkling, fortified, fruit wines, and brandies.

  • Michigan ranks in the top 10 in terms of the number of wineries in the country.

  • Wine industry has a $6.3 billion economic impact, including $209 million in tourism spending and over 600,000 visitors in 2022.

Leelanau Peninsula wineries

Vineyards on the Leelanau Peninsula flourish thanks to the region’s cool climate, nutrient-rich soils, and lake breezes. The 45th parallel also plays an important role in winemaking. The Leelanau Peninsula:

  • Sits at the same latitude as France’s Burgundy and Bordeaux, Italy’s Piedmont, and Oregon’s Willamette Valley regions.

  • Excels in producing white varietals with well-balanced acidity, such as Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio, and Riesling.

  • Roughly 60 percent of Michigan’s wine grapes are grown in the Traverse City region.

  • Features over 20 wineries and has gained acclaim as the Midwest’s No. 1 wine region.

Self-guided wine tour

Set among rolling hills, countryside estates, and scenic overlooks, Leelanau wineries stretch from the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore to the West Arm of Grand Traverse Bay.

You can sip and sample close to the coast or set out for an afternoon of wine tasting and sightseeing. You’ll enjoy tasting the different varieties, exploring the vineyards, and perhaps taking home a bottle – or case – to savor later.   

Lake Leelanau

45 North Draft SodasAurora Cellars, 7788 E. Horn Road, 231-994-3188. Discover old-world charm, award-winning wine, and epicurean small plates at this boutique winery and tasting room with a vineyard next to a farm.

45 North Vineyard & Winery, 8580 E. Horn Road, 231-271-1188. The 45th parallel runs directly through this vineyard and tasting room that also features a 3-mile, all-seasons recreational trail.  

Blustone Vineyards, 780 N. Sylt Road, 231-256-0146. Voted as the #1 Red Hot Best Winery on the Leelanau Peninsula, Blustone’s tasting room features panoramic views, floor to ceiling windows, and a modern vibe plus an outdoor patio.

Suttons Bay

Black Star Farms, 10844 E Revold Road, 231-944-1270. This well-known 160-acre estate is a premier wine and culinary destination, offering wine dinners, equestrian facilities, and 3 miles of hiking trails.    

Good Harbor Vineyards, 34 S Manitou Trail, 231-256-7165. Nestled 2 miles from the Lake Michigan coast on M-22, Good Harbor has been a family-owned operation for over 40 years and specializes in red and white wines.    

Mawby Sparkling WineMawby, 4519 S Elm Valley Road 231-271-3522. This winery’s claim to fame is Michigan’s oldest sparkling wine house, serving up sparkling wine with the motto “celebrate each day.”   

Shady Lane Cellars, 9580 Shady Lane, 231-947-8865. Located near the TART Trail, Shady Lanes offers guided tours of the vineyards where you can learn about sustainable farming practices before or after a trip to the tasting room.

Tandem Ciders, 2055 N Setterbo Road, 231-271-0050. Switch it up and try a hard cider flight or enjoy a pint at this rustic, bicycle-themed cidery north of Suttons Bay.    

Two K Farms, 3872 SW Bayshore Drive, 231-866.4265. Set on a farm overlooking Grand Traverse Bay with a large outdoor patio, Two K Farms serves up “graft-to-glass” creations that include apple ciders and unique fruit-infused blends and wines.

Traverse City

Rove Winery at the Gallagher Estate, 7007 E Traverse Hwy, 231-421-7001. Set atop the highest point on the Leelanau Peninsula, this family farm and winery uses estate-grown grapes to produce its wines and ciders.

Old Mission Peninsula 

Smaller in size but still big on scenic beauty, Old Mission Peninsula splits Grand Traverse Bay. If you are up for a second day of wine tasting, continue the tour at these wineries on Old Mission Peninsula:

Bonobo Winery, 12011 Center Road, 231-282-9463

Brys Estate, 3309 Blue Water Road, 231-223-9303

Chateau Chantal, 15900 Rue de Vin, 231-223-4110

Hawthorne Vineyards, 1000 Camino Maria, 231-929-4206

Mari Vineyards, 8175 Center Rd, 231-938-6116

2 Lads Winery, 16985 Smokey Hollow, 231-223-7722

Group tours and special events

friendly_staff-1The Leelanau region also hosts special events to commemorate Michigan Wine Month. Sign up to win prizes or enjoy specials at individual wineries.

Traverse City Uncorked is a free, self-guided tour that involves checking in at five or more wineries. The reward: Receive a pair of Traverse City Uncorked socks once you complete the tour. Sign up for your passport here

The Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail can help you plan your trip around upcoming events, wine trail routes, and seasonal specials. A new event, Spring Into Summer on May 31-June 2, will showcase new vintages planned for release in the coming months. Visit lpwines.com for details and online maps of the area wineries.

If you prefer not to drive, you can schedule a group wine tour or reserve transportation services. Learn more here.  

Enjoy the scenery

Wine Patio at Bel LagoAccording to winemakers, grapes grow in beautiful places. So, even if you do not drink wine or serve as the designated driver, you will love the scenery and sweeping views of Sleeping Bear Dunes and Grand Traverse Bay.  

That’s the great thing about the Sleeping Bear Dunes region. Between the natural beauty, award-winning wine, and outdoor recreation, the area offers something for everyone. You can hike, bike, kayak, rockhound, shop, explore, and relax. So much to do, so little time! 

Even if you can’t visit in May, the Leelanau Peninsula wineries can be enjoyed year-round and change vibes with the changing seasons. Book lodging options in the heart of Sleeping Bear Dunes at Homestead Resort, or check out upcoming events at the national lakeshore here.    

Warmer weather has arrived! It’s time to start planning your next Sleeping Bear Dunes vacation.

Marla R. Miller is a travel writer and content marketing writer. Visit her website at marlarmiller.com.