Ultimate Guide to Michigan Wineries
Michigan’s Wine Regions
There are more 150 Michigan wineries across the state, making Michigan is one of the top wine-producing states in the country. From award-winning reds and whites to ice wines and sparkling wines, the variety of Michigan wine is endless.
With five American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) spread across the state, Michigan produces a variety of wines, from a selection of reds along the Southwest coast to sweet white types on the tip of the mitten and several award-winning hybrids from inland.
In this guide to Michigan; you’ll learn about some of our favorite wineries, vineyards and tasting rooms.
Thousands of acres of fertile Michigan land are dedicated to growing high quality grapes which are distributed among over dozens of wineries and vineyards to make pure Michigan wine. These massive wine production numbers skyrocket Michigan into the top ten wine-producing states in the country.
The question remains: what is it that makes Michigan wine so grape?
Wineries in Michigan
Michigan’s climate is influenced massively by the Great Lakes; in particular, the weather patterns in the Western region of the state are at the mercy of mighty Lake Michigan.
Most pure Michigan grapes are grown within 25 miles of this coast and for good reason. Vast Lake Michigan mitigates the air along the coast creating the perfect storm which prevents crops from early frosts in Fall, or early blooms in Spring.
Additionally, lake effect snow, while seemingly harmful, is actually helpful, as it creates an insulating layer which protects the vines from Michigan’s bitter cold air.
On the global scale, the 45th Parallel marks the halfway point between the Equator and the North Pole and plays a massive role in winemaking.
Michigan sits right on this line, meaning the temperatures are not too cold or too hot to produce high-quality grapes.
This “Goldilocks” climate means that wines grown here rival those in world-renowned wine regions, such as Burgundy or Bordeaux in France, or Piedmont in Italy.
Michigan’s Ice Wines
More than challenging big-name wine regions around the world, Michigan wines are unique, too. Among these unique aspects of Michigan wine is one-of-a-kind ice wine.
When the weather begins to cool as winter rolls in, the time to pick grapes for ice wine approaches. Picking grapes for ice wine is a meticulous process.
The grapes are only ready when temperatures dip just under 20 degrees Fahrenheit, when the water in the grapes are frozen, but the sugars are unaffected. This process is a true labor of love, done for the passion of winemaking.
Harvesting the grapes takes ages in the bitter cold of Michigan’s winter nights, but the end result is a spectacular wine unlike any other, available in only a select few places worldwide.
Michigan has become somewhat of a sleeper hit in the wine industry. The dedication grape growers and winemakers have to the craft shows through every sip you take, whether you prefer Riesling from the North, or Merlot from the West.
As time goes on and word about marvelous Michigan wine spreads, the industry continues to grow, meaning more grapes, more wineries, and more wines with bold and unique flavors.
Michigan Wine Trails
There are six wine trails in Michigan based around the wine regions producing award-winning wines. These include:
- Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail
- Glen Arbor Village Wine Trail
- Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail
- Old Mission Peninsula Wine Trail
- Southeast Michigan Pioneer Wine Trail
- Thumbs Up Wine Trail
Read on through our Michigan guide and discover some of our favorite wineries and vineyards.
Making Wine in Michigan
Michigan winemakers have a pure love of wine and the process of making it and they love to share that with others by glass or by bottle. It’s a unique passion for flavor that makes Michigan wine country a must-visit for any wine enthusiast.
Since the 1970s, Michigan has been making a name for itself in the greater U.S. wine industry. Michigan is now home to over 100 wineries and thousands of acres of vineyards, skyrocketing the state into the top ten wine-producing states in the nation.
Our Favorite Michigan Wineries
These are some of our favorite, must-visit wineries and wine-tasting rooms that help make Michigan the winemaking powerhouse it is today.
Black Star Farms
The Traverse City, Michigan area is home to some of the best wineries in the state. With two locations just outside Traverse City, Black Star Farms is one of the premier wineries in Northern Michigan.
This massive operation started in Suttons Bay and now includes two wineries, three tasting rooms, and a distillery – as well as horse stables, trails, a café, and even a stylish and upscale ten-bedroom inn.
While best known for their whites like Riesling and Chardonnay, they have garnered positive attention for their reds as well, meaning whichever you prefer, there is sure to be a wine you’ll love.
Aside from award winning wines, there are plenty of activities available. During the summer and fall, enjoy the scenic Leelanau Peninsula views and explore the vineyards and winery property.
In the winter months, try the ski and snowshoe trails through the vineyard which can be followed up by a mulled wine on the heated Terrace Patio to help you warm up.
Chateau Chantal Winery and Inn
On Old Mission Peninsula, Chateau Chantal sits on rolling hills that overlook picturesque Grand Traverse Bay. This exquisite site offers plenty of food wine and entertainment.
Chateau Chantal is offering outdoor igloo dining by reservation this Winter, which means you don’t have to miss out on all that they have to offer for the snowy months. The annual Fire & Ice Wine Dinner held annually in January for the fourth year is a favorite event with wine lovers.
This spectacular feast includes course after course of decadent food and perfect wine pairings.
2 Lads Winery
This remarkably modern winery in Traverse City sets itself apart from all the other wineries on the Leelanau Peninsula by its appearance alone.
Its contemporary industrial look directly contradicts the farmhouse atmosphere that many other wineries have. 2 Lads focuses on sustainable farming and processing practices that help maximize flavor and minimize energy consumption.
While they have a variety of options (including sparkling wines), they are famous for their red wines, including a silky Pinot Noir and a soft Merlot that smells and tastes divine.
There’s something about this winery in the Leelanau Peninsula and its tasting room in downtown Leland; it seems to just catch northern Michigan charm in every bottle.
A relative newcomer on the Michigan wine scene, family-owned Verterra Winery is producing some award-winning wines from their Northpost vineyards.
In addition to the Leland tasting rooms – just steps from the Lake Michigan beach – the Ridge at Verterra is a destination event site with stunning panoramic views of Lake Michigan and Grand Traverse Bay.
Fenn Valley Vineyards
In Southwest Michigan, Fenn Valley Vineyards strives to create world-class wines from local Michigan grapes. Not far from Grand Rapids or Kalamazoo, this vineyard hosts one of the most extensive and detailed wine making tours in the region, showing the whole process from vine to wine (including wine tasting the whole way through).
Fenn Valley Vineyards is part of Southwest Michigan’s Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail. The vineyard has a distinctly rural atmosphere with a sprawling acreage complete with a big green barn at the heart of it all.
There are countless events happening year-round from 5K runs to chili cook-offs, music shows in the vineyards to the acclaimed Wine Roast in the Summer (among other barbecue events).
Nothing beats Fenn Valley’s sparkling wines, as these are the keystone to their production, but the reds, dessert wines, and fruit wines never fail to disappoint. Use our Guide to Saugatuck to explore more about the area.
Lemon Creek Winery
In Southwestern Michigan, Berrien County is home to the Lemon Creek Winery. The farm was first started in 1834 and passed down the Lemon family until the descendants opened the winery 150 years later.
The business is still owned and operated by the Lemon family and has expanded to include a second tasting room in Grand Haven.
The winery in Berrien has a farm market open from Summer to Fall and allows you to pick your own fruits seasonally. Lemon Creek has a massive array of wines to choose from, but the family takes particular pride in their cabernet sauvignon assortment. Use our Guide to St. Joseph or the Best Things to Do in New Buffalo to learn more about the area.
St. Julian Winery
St. Julian is Michigan’s oldest, largest, and most-awarded winery. In 1921 it was founded in Ontario by Italian immigrant Mariano Meconi and initially was called the “Meconi Wine Company.”
After prohibition had been lifted it was moved into Detroit, then later in 1936, the name changed to St. Julian and moved to its current home in Paw Paw. This winery is laser-focused on making the best wines with “Italian roots, Michigan soil” (the winery’s motto).
With decades to perfect their craft, it’s practically impossible to select a wine that isn’t delicious, from crisp Riesling to rich merlot and just about everything in between.
Chateau Aeronautique Winery
This unique winery can be found in a couple of south-central locations including Onsted in the Irish Hills and Jackson (and an additional location in Auburn Hills).
Long-time commercial pilot Lorenzo Lizarralde founded the winery in his airplane hangar on a grass runway and since then, the winery has taken flight. Live music at the Irish Hills location draws people in on most Saturday nights, showcasing local bands and tribute groups alike.
This one-of-a-kind experience allows you to tour both the wine cellar and the airplane hangar, where you can catch glimpses of the winemaking process as well as planes taking off and landing in this “fly-in community.”
Marvel at the vintage airplanes while you sip on a wine of your choice from the great variety offered, from dry traditional chardonnay or Riesling to a favored semi-sweet white or red.
Michigan By The Bottle
Michigan By The Bottle is the wine tasting room that brings all the best wines from around the state to Metro-Detroit. Each location is dedicated to providing as many tastes from Michigan’s acclaimed wine trails as possible.
Owners Cort and Shannon began the business as a passionate blog about Michigan wine, which quickly gathered support from other wine-lovers from the area who wanted to buy local.
Soon after, they began to partner with wineries all over the state and open tasting rooms where the wine could be shared with those clustered in Southeastern Michigan.
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About the Author
Bella DiMascio is a Content Editor at mymichiganbeach.com. She grew up in the Detroit suburb of Westland and later attended Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo where she majored in Communication Studies and minored in English: Writing. Creative writing has been a hobby and interest of Bella’s since she was in elementary school and she is thrilled to be using her talents to highlight the Great Lakes State. Outside of writing, Bella enjoys getting outside with her two Australian Shepherds, playing video games, and binging shows on Netflix.