Uncorking the best of Michigan wineries: A wine lover’s guide

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Indulge in the taste of Michigan’s finest wines. From sweet to dry, Michigan wineries offer an experience that will tantalize your taste buds and leave you wanting more. 

Discover the hidden gems of Michigan’s wine country, including the many wine trails, and take a memorable journey through the beautiful vineyards. Whether you’re a seasoned wine enthusiast or a casual drinker, Michigan has something to offer everyone. 

Michigan is settled within the coveted 30 to 50 degrees latitude, which is ideal for growing wine grapes. You’ll also find other popular wine-growing regions, including  Oregon Wine Country.

Michigan Vineyards with fruit on the vines.
Jomagrha Winery. Photo credit: Lara Clevenger.

Michigan wineries

Many people may not know, but Michigan has over 140 wineries. Michigan is great for wine production because of the state’s diverse range of microclimates. The two peninsulas, upper and lower, create unique growing conditions that can vary significantly from one region to another. 

Michigan has a moderate climate with warm summers and cool breezes from the surrounding Great Lakes, creating a long, slow ripening season. Michigan also has a unique mix of soil types, ranging from sandy loam to clay, which can impart different flavors and characteristics to the grapes.

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Types of wine made in Michigan

Michigan is known for producing a variety of wine styles, from dry reds to sweet whites. Some of Michigan’s most popular grape varieties include cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, pinot blanc, pinot grigio, riesling, fruit wines, Marquette, frontenac, vidal blanc and ice wines. 

Ice wine is a sweet dessert made from grapes left on the vine to freeze. The freezing process concentrates the sugars and flavors in the grapes, resulting in a rich, complex wine that pairs well with desserts and cheeses.

Michigan Wine Regions

Throughout Michigan, different regions of the state are better suited to produce wine; because of this, there are many other Michigan Wine Trails like the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail and the Petoskey Wine Region

Michigan’s wine trails are a great way to explore the state’s growing wine industry and discover new wineries and wines to enjoy. Each trail offers a unique experience, from the scenic vistas of the Old Mission and Leelanau Peninsulas to the charming towns and rural countryside of Southeast Michigan and the Thumb. 

Along the way, visitors can sample diverse wines, from crisp whites and fruity rosés to full-bodied reds and delicious dessert wines. Many of the wineries on the trails offer tastings, tours and special events, making it easy to learn about Michigan’s wine production and meet the people behind the wines. 

Whether you’re a seasoned wine enthusiast or just looking for a fun day trip, Michigan’s wine trails have something for everyone.

Now don’t mistake wine trails for American Viticultural Areas (AVAs). AVAs are designated wine-grape growing regions, whereas wine trails are organized by geographic location. AVAs are defined by their unique geographic features, such as climate, soil, topography and elevation, that affect the characteristics of the wines produced there.

Michigan’s Old Mission Peninsula Region

Michigan’s Old Mission Peninsula is a scenic wine region on a narrow strip of land extending northward from Traverse City into Grand Traverse Bay. The region is known for varieties like cabernet franc, chardonnay, merlot, pinot gris, pinot noir and riesling. 

Petoskey Wine Region

Petoskey Wine Region is located in northern Michigan, along the shores of Lake Michigan. The region is known for its unique microclimate, which is influenced by the lake and creates ideal growing conditions for cold-hardy grape varieties like Marquette, frontenac, muscat, cabernet franc, and riesling.

small glasses of cider and wine at a Michigan Winery
Celler 1914. Photo credit: Lara Clevenger.

Southeast Michigan Pioneer Wine Trail

Southeast Michigan Pioneer Wine Trail is a wine region in the southeastern part of the state, encompassing wineries spread across four counties. The region is known for its rich glacial soils, temperate climate, and various microclimates to create ideal growing conditions.

Lake Michigan Shoreline Trail

The Lake Michigan Shoreline Trail is a wine region located in southwestern Michigan, spanning along the coastline of Lake Michigan. The region is known for its sandy beaches, dunes and fertile soil, which creates ideal growing conditions for various grape varieties like cabernet franc, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, sauvignon blanc, riesling, and pinot gris. It’s located at the 42nd parallel, and this region contains 90 percent of Michigan’s vineyards.

Fenn Valley Vineyards with trees and a barn in the background
Fenn Valley Vineyards. Photo credit: Lara Clevenger.

“I was surprised the first time I visited Michigan wineries, but I fell in love with the wines and the people who work there. Fenn Valley Vineyards is my favorite. They have not just traditional red and white wines, like chardonnay and reisling, but also fruit wines like peach, red currant, cherry and blueberry. They also have amazing hard cider for those who aren’t wine drinkers, and their winery tastings include both wines and ciders.”

— Michelle Price, Honest and Truly,

The Grand Rapids Wine Tour 

The Grand Rapids Wine Tour is located in the central-western part of Michigan, near Grand Rapids. The tour includes several wineries offering tastings and tours, as well as a variety of restaurants and specialty shops. They’re known for their ice and fruit wines. 

The Thumb Coast Beer, Wine & Spirits Tour

The Thumb Coast Beer, Wine & Spirits Tour is a unique region located in the eastern part of Michigan, along the coast of Lake Huron. The area is known for its charming small towns, beach villages and rural farms.

The Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail

The Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail is located on the 45th parallel in the northern part of Michigan on the Leelanau Peninsula. Various grapes are grown, including pinot grigio, chardonnay, riesling, pinot noir, cabernet franc, pinot blanc, vignoles, and gewürztraminer.

If you purchase a few bottles of wine along the wine trails, you’ll enjoy this post on a guide to the perfect pairings. Also, learn how to choose the right wine glass for each wine. 

If you have an open bottle of red wine, you can use some to make this delicious instant pot rump roast recipe. Or pour a glass and serve it with a juicy Blackstone steak

The wine trails in Michigan offer a chance to taste the best wines in each region and an opportunity to learn about the local history and culture. Many wineries are family-owned and operated; visitors can hear firsthand stories about the winemaking process.

Many of the wineries in Michigan are part of Harvest Hosts, where you can park your RV and enjoy the beautiful scenery with wine. It’s an excellent option for Full-Time RVers who are set up to boondock.

Wine glass with an RV and truck in the background.
Fenn Valley Vineyards. Photo credit: Lara Clevenger.

If you’re planning a visit to Michigan’s wine trails, visit late spring to early fall during the peak season. Most wineries close late fall to early spring, but some have tasting rooms that will be open year-round. Here are some great wine tasting outfits, if you need some ideas.

Michigan’s wine industry is a hidden gem that deserves more recognition. With over 140 wineries producing diverse wines, Michigan offers something for every wine enthusiast and casual drinker. Its unique climate and geography make it an ideal region for wine production, while its wine trails provide a fun and engaging way to explore the best wineries in the area. 

So, whether you’re a seasoned wine connoisseur or just looking for a fun day trip, make sure to put Michigan’s wine trails on your list of must-visit destinations.

Lara is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Personal Trainer. She is also a photographer and recipe developer at her food blog LaraClevenger.com. She shares easy, primarily low-carb recipes along with some bowling and travel adventures. Whether you’re cooking with an air fryer, Blackstone or Instant Pot, she has you covered with healthy recipes.

4 thoughts on “Uncorking the best of Michigan wineries: A wine lover’s guide”

  1. Very nice article. Well said and represents what Michigan has to offer with its wines very well.

  2. I was giving you some ideas of places to see when you 1st moved to Michigan, but it’s me learning from you in this article, that is so well written.
    Long winters yes, but the summer gems are endless in Michigan. Enjoy the many wines out there!


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