Touring in Traverse City
Posted on January 24, 2020
Let’s talk about a different kind of adventure this week. An adventure I had last winter with my mom, her best friend, my sister and my best friend. It wasn’t like the typical adventures I write about – all outdoorsy and campy with hiking and stuff – but it was an adventure nonetheless! We had ourselves a wine-tasting girls’ weekend in Traverse City.
I am a thrifty traveler. My husband would say I’m cheap. I like to do fun things but I don’t like spending a ton of money., so I look for great deals I found us a lovely little suite, right on Lake Michigan, at the Sugar Beach Resort. We didn’t get a lake view room, but that’s ok since it was January, and all we would have seen was snow, ice, and more snow. The suite was cute, and clean, and super roomy. It slept all of us, with room to spare, and it was very reasonably priced at about $120 per night. Since we split the cost between the five of us, it only cost each of us about fifty bucks to stay for two nights!
I then signed us up for a wine tour on Old Mission Peninsula in the afternoon and a Wine, Beer, and Spirits tour of Traverse City in the evening. The tour company was great. They picked us up right at the hotel. You can set up private tours with them if you want, but we picked a “join-in” tour which meant we had about 15 to 20 other people on the bus with us.
Our wine tour consisted of four wineries along the Old Mission Point: Brys Estate Vineyard and Winery, Bowers Harbor Vineyards, Chateau Chantel, and Chateau Grand Traverse. We had almost an hour at each stop to relax, taste the wine and explore the venue. There was some other big wine event happening the same day, so we just kinda blended in with all those people. Brys Estate had several tasting spots set up so that you tasted several of their wines while following a walking tour of the winery. The whole place was beautiful, but because of all the people, and the assembly line setup, I did kind of feel rushed through this one. Bowers Harbor had nice big indoor and outdoor tasting areas, as well as a big gift shop. We were able to do more looking around at our own pace. The view from their patio is amazing, and I hope to go back there someday to see what it looks like when it’s not covered in snow. Chateau Chantel was a nice place, kind of set up like a restaurant. You walked in, waited to be “seated” at the bar. I think the guy working that day was a bit overwhelmed, as he was not the most polite. But it was here that I found my favorite of the day: Naughty Cherry Cider. Oh my! It tastes like cherry soda. Yummm! The last stop was Chateau Grand Traverse. I had had their wine before, and since. After all, it’s sold all over Michigan. You can even find it in my tiny home town of Grand Marais, at Bayshore Market. Their Late Harvest Riesling is my favorite.
The bus dropped us back off at our hotel. We had bought quite a bit on the tour, and we had just enough time to drop it all in our room, before the next bus picked us up for our second tour. Our Wine, Beer, and Spirits tour consisted of four stops around Traverse City: Right Brain Brewery, Traverse City Whiskey Company, 7 Monks Taproom, and Mammoth Distilling. This was a much smaller bus, and there were only two other people touring with us, but the driver was out to make sure we had a good time! Right Brain Brewery had a warehouse feel to it. A live music act had just wrapped up their set when we arrived, so it was pretty busy. The walls were decorated with local art. We all shared a flight of six beers. I’m not a big fan of beer, but I keep trying them, thinking I’ll eventually find one I like. This was the night. I really enjoyed their Nitro Girl Stout. The thing that turns me off of beer is the flavor of hops, but this stout hardly had any hop flavor. It was creamy and chocolaty instead. Traverse City Whisky Company was a cool little place. However, I skipped the tastings here, as I am most definitely not a whiskey fan. At this point, we had spent all day sipping alcohol and only nibbling on little snacks here and there. We begged our driver to modify his plan for the night to include somewhere we could get a real meal, which is how we ended up at the 7 Monks Taproom. Our tour companions, who turned out to be loads of fun, ate dinner with us. The food was really really good (or maybe we were just really really hungry? We did all eat like we hadn’t seen food in weeks LOL). Our last stop was Mammoth Distilling. They make their own gin, vodka, whiskey, bourbon, rye, and rum.
The whole experience was a complete blast. So much so, that we are currently in the beginning planning stages of our second girls’ weekend. This time, we’re looking at Petoskey. The wine and beer culture has exploded in Petoskey, and the surrounding areas, in recent years. Currently the Petoskey Wine Region consists of thirteen wineries, and I can think of three breweries off the top of my head. Since I live here, I have visited most of them already, and I definitely have my favorites, but I can’t wait to tour some of them with the rest of the girls!