Happy Monday, everyone! I am writing to you now officially as a 23-year-old! My birthday celebrations from this weekend were absolutely incredible thanks to my loving friends, and there is much food and wine to discuss. For my birthday weekend, my friends and I took a trip up to Northern Michigan, to visit the wineries of the Traverse City area. I had no idea this part of the mitten was so rich in vineyards- but according to the Traverse City website, “Traverse City is situated directly on the 45th parallel – halfway between the North Pole and the Equator – which is the same locale as the famous wine regions of France and Italy.”
And let me tell you, the wine did not disappoint at all. We stopped at four wineries and one brewery throughout the day, and at each we did a tasting (which was $10 or less.. amazing). We had a designated driver (my friend Casey’s sister), who was a saint for driving the 6 of us giggling girls around all day. Our stops included:
- Brys Estate Vineyard
- Jolly Pumpkin Brewery and Distillery
- Chateau Chantal Winery
- 2 Lads Winery
- Bowers Harbor Vineyard
All were so unique in their own way. I’ll give you some of the highlights.
Brys Estate was my favorite tasting set-up, because it was set up as a short 10-minute self guided tour through part of the winery, and it lead you out to a gorgeous view. All of these wineries are on the Old Mission peninsula, so they all give you sweeping views of the water from every angle. Favorite Wine: Brys Estate Cabernet Franc.
Jolly Pumpkin Brewery was a perfect stop for lunch after Brys, not only because the food is amazing, but also because having a flight of beer to break up the wine tastings sounded like a good move to us. Jolly Pumpkin Brewery is known for their Belgian Sour beers, and being able to taste a bunch of them at the place they are brewed was pretty great. Favorite Beer: Ora De Calabaza (a spicy/peppery golden ale).
Our next stop, Chateau Chantal, was my favorite stop for the view. It was up on a hill and it was truly breathtaking. None of us girls are getting married, but it would be a gorgeous spot for a wedding. Favorite Wine: Celebrate! (a sparkling rosé).
2 Lads Winery was by far the favorite wine I tasted. Their Vortex rosé and their red blend, Rola Red, were the best wines I tasted all day. The rosé was smooth, a little on the sweeter side, and crisp tasting. The Rola Red was a more fruity red blend with notes of cherry, and was a bottle I ended up taking home.
Bowers Harbor Vineyard was our last stop the best ambiance out of all of the vineyards. It was smaller, less crowded, and everyone who worked there was so friendly. There was a man playing acoustic guitar, sun was shining through the trees, and we were drinking our last sips of wine for the day. It was truly gorgeous. Favorite Wine: Bowers Harbor JT Red (a dry blend of Syrah, Tempranillo, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon).
Overall, the trip was amazing. I highly recommend a girls weekend, or a couples weekend to these wineries (plus, there are so many more to explore that we didn’t even have the chance to go to). It’s closer than Napa to Chicago, and was a perfect way to ring in my 23rd birthday with close friends. I would love to go back and explore even more of what the Traverse City area has to offer.
Upon my arrival back to Chicago, my boyfriend threw me a surprise party on his beautiful roof deck in the Bucktown neighborhood. He threw some salmon on the grill, we drank sangria, and watched football with our Chicago friends. It was the perfect end to a beautiful weekend. Feeling super blessed and thankful for the amazing people in my life!