Note: Some tour providers on this list may have limited or ceased operations due to COVID-19. Check with your tour operator about availability before you book.
Michigan’s burgeoning wine scene is impressive – it boasts more than 140 wineries throughout the state. There are more than 30 varietals grown with approximately 3,050 acres devoted to winemaking grapes. The state’s five distinct American Viticultural Areas have their own unique terroir and are located in the northern part of the mitt and the southwest corner of the state.
Traverse City‘s location in northern lower Michigan is particularly favorable to winemaking and sits near two of the state’s AVAs: Leelanau Peninsula and Old Mission Peninsula. Located on the shores of both East Grand Traverse and West Grand Traverse bays, the city sits on the 45th parallel, which is home to the Rhone Valley and Bordeaux in France and Italy’s Piedmont region.
The Traverse Wine Coast area is recognized primarily for its white wines, and there are approximately 40 wineries where you can sip and savor the local vintages.
After consulting both expert opinion and traveler sentiment, U.S. News identified the following outings as the best available. These four tours highlight the best of Traverse City’s thriving wine and spirits industries.
Magic Shuttle Bus – 5 Hour Traverse City Wine Tour on the Old Mission Peninsula
Sit back, relax and enjoy the views on this five-hour winery tour to the Old Mission Peninsula. This round-trip excursion departs from Traverse City and includes 45-minute stops at five different wineries. Tours depart Sunday through Friday at noon and Saturday at 11 a.m. The company’s limo-style bus holds a maximum of 14 passengers. Ticket prices cost about $65 per person. This does not include the cost of the wine tastings, which range between $5 to $10 at each winery. The wineries also offer wines by the glass and snacks, such as charcuterie boards, but patrons may also bring their own lunch (there’s a cooler available on the bus). Most patrons highly recommend the tour, especially for first-time visitors unfamiliar with the Old Mission Peninsula. Along with the wines, they also praise the driver, who they describe as entertaining and knowledgeable.
Magic Shuttle Bus also offers another wine tour to the Leelanau Peninsula and a five-hour Traverse City Brewery Tour. The company also runs wine and brewery tours out of Grand Rapids.
Traverse City Wine and Beer Tours – Leelanau Peninsula Join-In Tour
Visit three wineries along the scenic Leelanau Peninsula on this four-hour tour. Potential stops include 45 North Vineyard and Winery, Willow Vineyards and Rove Estate. Groups average about 14 people, but can be as large as 24 on busy weekends. The company offers complimentary water and chips on the tour, but participants are permitted to bring their own snacks. Tours operate daily except on select holidays. Prices start at $69 per person and include round-trip transportation to select Traverse City hotels. Wine flights or glasses of wine are an additional cost (about $8 to $10 per person at each stop). Participants praise the drivers for their knowledge and engaging personalities. They also say they have just as much fun on the bus as they do at the wineries. Traverse City Wine and Beer Tours also offers a wine tour of Old Mission Peninsula and a happy hour tour, among other options.
Traverse City Wine and Beer Tours – Old Mission Peninsula Join-In Tour
Hoping to sample more than just wine on your tour? This is the experience for you. During the four-hour tour, you’ll stop at three wineries that produce both wine and hard cider. Though each tour is unique, you may visit Hawthorne Vineyards, Chateau Chantal and Bonobo Winery, among other locations. This wine and cider sipping adventure is offered seven days a week, except on select holidays. The number of participants can vary, depending on the bus size. The approximately $70-fee includes water and snacks on the bus and round-trip transportation to Traverse City. Gratuities, tastings and food at the wineries costs extra. Patrons highly recommend the tour, applauding the accommodating and friendly drivers and staff and well-organized excursions. The company also offers private tours.
Traverse City customizes private wine tours for between two to 10 people. These excursions highlight wineries located on Old Mission Peninsula, in Leelanau County or Traverse City, depending on your preference. Each tour lasts several hours in length and the drive between stops features incredible views of Lake Michigan’s shoreline. Prices range from $150 for two people to about $450 for 10 tourgoers. Tastings at the wineries and gratuities are not included in the cost, but the price does include a round-trip transportation from most Traverse City hotels.
An added perk is that the guide will take photos while you’re on the tour and email them within several days as a memento of your trip. Patrons praise the company and say the staff is professional and maintains an excellent relationship with the wineries. Many reviewers reported booking more than one trip with Traverse City Wine Tours. Prefer beer over wine? Consider booking the company’s customized brewery tour.