Ski or snowshoe in the vineyards with these winter wine tours


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January might not seem like the best time to take a winery tour in northern Michigan, but that’s because you haven’t considered doing it on snowshoes or cross-country skis.

Located along the shores of Lake Michigan, Traverse City is the heart of the northern Michigan wine country, especially for lovers of the region’s sweet ice wine. Wineries cluster along two neighboring peninsulas, Leelanau and Old Mission.

Last winter, several tasting rooms in Leelanau inaugurated the Leelanau Ski / Snowshoe Wine Trail, which stretches for 12 km and connects two wineries and a craft cider maker.

This winter, Old Mission Peninsula joined in the fun by designing a trail that connects a brewery and two wineries.

The Leelanau Trail “is an exciting way to experience excellent local wines and ciders,” said Mike Norton, media relations manager for the Traverse City Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The trail connects Blustone Vineyards, Forty-Five North Vineyard and Winery, and Tandem Ciders. Visitors can roam the snow-capped countryside, then warm up in the three tasting rooms.

Forty-Five North offers tastings in a cozy salvaged barn, while Blustone’s tasting room is a modern space with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the vineyard.

Cross-country skis are a great way to tour the northern Michigan wine country.  The 12 km Leelanau Ski / Snowshoe Wine Trail connects Blustone Vineyards, Forty-Five North Vineyard and Winery, and Tandem Ciders.

Tandem Ciders – named after the tandem bike the owners once toured England – has a tasting room in a small white barn. Visitors can sample hard ciders like Smackintosh and Crabster, as well as several craft sodas.

In addition to hiking the Leelanau Ski / Snowshoe Wine Trail, wine enthusiasts can try the 17-mile paved Leelanau Trail, which connects Traverse City and Suttons Bay.

The salvaged rail corridor passes through many wineries on the peninsula, including Black Star Farms, Shady Lane Cellars, Willow Vineyards, and Mawby. The latter is best known for its sparkling wines.

On the Old Mission Peninsula, the area’s newest winter trail connects a brewery and two wineries.

The Old Mission Snowshoe, Wine and Brew Trail is open Sunday only. Participants park at Jolly Pumpkin Brewery and take a free shuttle to Brys Estate Vineyard and Winery.

A marked trail, mostly downhill, connects it to Bowers Harbor Vineyard and Jolly Pumpkin.

All three locations offer $ 5 tasting flights and other specials. And if you buy wines along the way, the shuttle will deliver them to you at the last stop.

If you don’t have snowshoes or cross-country skis, you can rent them by the day. Suttons Bay Bikes, which rents both, is located just one block from the Leelanau Trail trailhead. Brick Wheels, located in Traverse City, is closer to the Old Mission Peninsula Trail.

If you are going to

• Blustone vineyards: 780 N. Sylt Road, Leelanau Lake; (231) 256-0146; Blustonevineyards.com

• Bowers Harbor Vineyard: 2896 Bowers Harbor Road, Traverse City; (231) 223-7615; bowersharbor.com

• Brick wheels: 736 E. 8th St., Traverse City; (231) 947-4274; brickwheels.com

• Brys Estate vineyard and cellar: 3309 Blue Water Road, Traverse City; (231) 223-9303; brysestate.com

• Forty-Five North Vineyard and Winery: 8580 E. Horn Road, Leelanau Lake; (231) 271-1188; quarantecinqnord.com

• Jolly Pumpkin Brewery: 13512 Peninsula Drive, Traverse City; (231) 223-4333

• Suttons Bay bikes: 318, rue Saint-Joseph, Suttons Bay; (231) 421-6815; suttonsbaybikes.com

• Tandem ciders: 2055 N. Setterbo Road, Suttons Bay; (231) 271-0050; tandemciders.com

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