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Plan a spring fling for Michigan Wine Month

Updated: Aug 24, 2021

Published in the Battle Creek Enquirer

A weekend in April will land you in the middle what is officially Michigan’s “Wine Month” as proclaimed by Governor Rick Snyder. Who needs any other reason than that?

Old Mission Peninsula is 22 miles long and divides Grand Traverse Bay into East and West Bays, just north of Traverse City.

Eight wineries comprise the appellation, offering Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Gewürztraminer, sparkling varieties and my personal favorite, ice wine.

We have a number of favorite wineries in the area, but this time, we checked out Bowers Harbor Vineyards and Chateau Chantal.

Bowers Harbor is a sustainable boutique vineyard that produces award-winning varietal wines. Converted from the family’s old horse barn, the quaint tasting room lets you taste their sparkling, red and white wines, while viewing the quiet loveliness of Bowers Harbor.

During season, meticulously manicured vineyards and flower gardens will greet you as you enter the estate. You may also meet the vineyard’s canine friend, Brix, who is kid-friendly.

Another local winery, Chateau Chantal, offers a unique experience in Northern Hospitality which combines a vineyard and winery, B&B lodging and friendly company, all in a relaxing rural landscape featuring breathtaking views, local beaches, trails and quiet country roads.

Opened by the Begin family in 1993 and located just 12 miles north of Traverse City, Chateau Chantal produces a wide variety of fine wines, from very dry to lightly sweet, grown on Old Mission Peninsula vineyards.

The winery also works with a 55-acre vineyard in Mendoza, Argentina, where they produce a rich Malbec red wine.

In addition, they also have their own still and create an oak-aged, grape-based brandy and a cherry-based eau-de-vie distilled from tart Michigan cherries, carefully selected for the delicate cherry flavor—great after-dinner beverages!

Some of the 11 rooms at Chateau Chantal are named after the French Impressionist masters Monet, Degas and Cezanne. You can also order in-room breakfast and couples massages. This place ranks very high in the romance department, if that’s what you are seeking.

If you’re not staying at Chateau Chantal, one of our favorite bed and breakfasts of all times is The Neahtawanta Inn (Nee-ah-ta-wan-ta), where we have spent many wonderful vacations. With more than 300 feet of beachfront on Bowers Harbor, the Inn sits on a remarkable spit of land.

The large living/dining room with a sunken fieldstone fire pit and many books and periodicals was another wonderful place to lounge, if you can tear yourself away from the covered porch with its view of the water. This was the place where my meat-loving husband first enjoyed vegetarian cuisine, including fabulous pancakes cooked on the Inn’s original 1940s Garland double oven, six-burner stove with a grill top.

One of our favorite local restaurants is The Boathouse, with its spectacular view of the harbor. All the food was locally sourced and very tasty. I wasn’t brave enough to order the Elk Rack, but the whitefish was very good.

If the weather is warm, try a beverage on the deck of the Mission Table, formerly known as the Bowers Harbor Inn. If you are lucky, you might encounter the ghost of the previous owner.

A better opportunity is visiting Northern United Brewing Company, a microbrewery co-located on the property.

All in all, the Old Mission Peninsula in northern Michigan is where you should be if you are looking for a “spring fling.” Go ahead; indulge yourself!

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