New tours on tap for Leelanau wine visitors

  April turned out to be a sorry month to celebrate Michigan’s flourishing wine industry.

  And if the endless snow, rain and frigid temps kept you from raising a glass to Michigan Wine Month, all is not lost. Spring is as near as the weekend, and at least one wine promotion group is making it very easy to tour some wineries.

  The Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail has unveiled three touring loops to help visitors navigate the more than two dozens wineries along the scenic peninsula that hugs the west side of Traverse City. The number of wineries in Michigan surpassed 100 this year, and the Leelanau Peninsula is home to no less than one-quarter of them.

  “The main goal is to offer an enjoyable experience for people to explore our wineries and tasting rooms and to unlock the hidden treasures of Michigan’s Wine Coast,” Matt Gregory, Trail president, said in a statement.

 Here are the new Leelanau Wine Trail loops and some highlights:

 The Northern Loop covers the peninsula’s northern half and is home to 10 wineries in or around villages such as Lake Leelanau, Northport and Omena. The wineries include Leelanau Wine Cellars, Forty-Five North and Blustone Vineyards. The tour swings near the Grand Traverse Lighthouse.

 The Grand Traverse Bay Loop starts outside Traverse City and heads along the peninsula’s east side to Suttons Bay. Nine wineries are featured, including Black Star Farms, Shady Lane Cellars and Chateau de Leelanau.

 The Sleeping Bear Loop is home to six wineries along the peninsula’s western shore, stretching south to Glen Arbor near Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and north to Lake Leelanau. The wineries include Cherry Republic, Bel Lago and Chateau Fontaine.

 The Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail brochure is available at the Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association. A free iPhone app also is available.

 Other Michigan wine trails and regions are worth exploring too. They are: Old Mission Peninsula; West Michigan Wine and Beer Trail; Sunrise Side Wine and Hops Trail; Southeast Michigan Pioneer Wine Trail; and Lake Michigan Shore Wine Country.

Greg Tasker
Greg Tasker is Detroit News Arts and Entertainment Editor and has been writing about travel for more than a decade. His travel stories have appeared in AAA Living, Frommer's Budget Travel, Scouting, AMC Outdoors, Vermont Life and Island Life.