Traverse City’s Rieslings Are the Best in America

If you enjoy Rieslings, then you should look into Northern Michigan’s wine scene! If you don’t like Riesling, it’s because you’re doing wine wrong. Just kidding, but it’s probably because you haven’t tasted the wines here. After tasting my way through the vineyards of the Old Mission Peninsula, just outside Traverse City, it’s obvious they offer the best Riesling in America. It makes sense, they have the best location to grow this type of grape. If you’re a wine snob, you’ll already know about this area and how its Rieslings became so well-known. Firstly, the location of Traverse City is on the 45th parallel. It’s located halfway between the North Pole and the Equator. It runs along the SAME parallel where France and Italy have their famous wine regions.

Traverse City is On The Northern Hemisphere’s 45th Parallel

Therefore, Traverse City has an IDEAL location for Michiganders and visitors alike to enjoy wine o’clock right on its gorgeous vineyards. If you run a simple Google search on the Best Rieslings in the US, you’ll find wineries in this area popping up left and right. It is no wonder major publications including the LA Times, Washington Post, and Huffington Post have repeatedly highlighted these wineries in Michigan. Whether you’re into dry, semi-sweet, or sweet flavors, the Riesling from the Old Mission Peninsula know how to win over your taste buds. Beyond Riesling, these wineries also sell delicious reds, roses, among other whites.

Rieslings & Cherry Wine at Chateau Grand Traverse

Earlier this week, my parents and I went on a few wine tours and tastings on the Old Mission Peninsula. Personally, I fell in love with the dry white wines while my parents preferred the medium-dry white wines. The first winery we visited was Chateau Grand Traverse, the first commercial winery in the area with over 200 acres. CGT truly pioneered the way for other wineries in the area and focuses on producing quality wine. They produce their own wines on site and case over 2,200 bottles a DAY. Also, they are family owned and have a contemporary Inn you can stay at complete with a sauna and views of the vineyards!

Upon arriving, we were given a tour of the vineyards, bottling room, and barrel room. Afterwards, we made our way into the tasting room! We really enjoyed our tasting here and each of us ended up walking away with our favorite bottle. My absolute FAVORITE wine happened to also be the CGT Wine staff’s favorite, which is the 2015 Dry Riesling. It is so refreshing and took me straight to summer in one sip. It also won the Silver Medal at the 2017 International Eastern Wine Competition.

My Dad’s favorite was the 2014 Semidry Riesling which won the Gold Medal at the 2016 Los Angeles International Wine Competition. My Mom’s was the 2015 Etcetera White Blend, which won the Silver Medal at the 2016 Michigan Wine Competition. Beyond the Riesling, we had an opportunity to sample their uniquely flavored Cherry Wines. This included their Cherry Riesling, Wine Sangria, Spiced Cherry Wine, and Cherry “Port” Reserve. Given Traverse City is known as the “Cherry Capital of the World”, this was a special treat!

Rieslings & Ciders at Bowers Harbor Vineyards

Our next winery we visited was just up the street, named Bowers Harbor Vineyards. After we parked, we walked up to the tasting room that has a patio and a seating area that looks out on their vineyards that roll downhill. They have a beautiful landscape and multiple areas to enjoy the good views. They also have a mile long nature trail you can snowshoe or hike and explore local wildlife and flora. We didn’t get to enjoy the outdoors so much given we dealt with some weather that day. However, the inside offers such a homey feeling we enjoyed our experience nevertheless! BHV has 22 acres of vineyards and several award-winning wines including their 2896 Brut Rose. Their Rose took home the Silver from the 2017 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. They are also very environmentally friendly having invested in solar panels on the roof of their warehouse and the tasting room.

We started our second tastings with a sparkling wine that my Mom ended up falling in love with called Pinot Secco. BHV said it “dances on the tongue” with its hints of tropical pineapple and citrus making it a fun bubbly for any occasion. Tasting our way through the menu, we also sampled several varieties of Riesling and a Chardonnay that shockingly tasted like a Sauvignon Blanc! My favorite was the 2016 Riesling Block II that has hints of grapefruit and anise and was super crisp. We also had a chance to try their “dog wines” which were named after dogs that lived on the property, Otis and Cooper. All of us actually agreed on loving these and bought them to enjoy at home! BHV also offers Hard Ciders on tap including apple, mango, peach, blueberry and cherry.

For more information on other wineries on Old Mission, you can check out the “Wine of Old Mission Peninsula” website. You can also check out “WOMP“. Also,  go to Traverse City’s Tourism site for information on wineries in the area. And now, I leave you with some wine humor, because wine not? 🙂

6 Comments

  • Great piece – I adore Traverse City. It’s amazing how long this place was kept a secret from the world.
    Two other activities there that are a must if you haven’t yet experienced them:

    1. The food is amazing – increasingly ranked within the 10 best in the US. They’ve been doing high quality farm-to-table for decades before it was even a term.
    2. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, (anywhere is good, but Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive is the absolute must-see section). One of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. Within the last segment of Pierce Stocking, you park, follow a short sandy trail a few hundred feet or so, and surprise – you are 450 feet up, atop an utterly massive perched sand dune, overlooking the turquoise waters of Lake Michigan far below, extending off into infinity, along with a shoreline of huge dunes for miles (the largest fresh water dune system on earth), and the large sandy bluffs of South Manitou Island to the northwest. The day I was there (a perfect 72 degrees and not a cloud in the sky), I stayed till sunset; it was so stunning, the crowd of 50 or so people sitting in the sand actually applauded it – myself included.

    • I couldn’t agree with you more! Thanks for sharing the additional activities. I have been to Sleeping Bear Dunes and will have to make sure I do the scenic drive next time for sure, sounds like a dream.

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