Ultimate Guide to Michigan Wine Country

Wine Tours in Michigan

You'll find the majority of Michigan's wineries in the Lower Peninsula, along the shoreline of Lake Michigan. (The Lower Peninsula is the part of Michigan shaped like a mitten -- wine country goes up and down the left side of the mitten.) The lake climate makes for ideal soil for growing grapes that later become various wines. This climate, called lake effect climate, protects the vines in the winter by covering them with snow, prevents frost damage, provides enough rainfall for fertile soil, and extends the typical growing period by about two or three weeks. The Michigan wine country's soil and climate are similar to the soil and climate in wine-growing regions like France and Germany.

You can enjoy a Michigan wine country tour in one of several ways: Do some research, put together a "DIY" tour, and then rent a car. Or, try one of dozens of professional tours. If you're an outdoorsy, fitness-minded person, you can tour wine country by bicycle. What better way to enjoy the scenery? Or, you can tour by chartered car or limo, visiting the wineries in style. One outfit even offers vineyard-to-vineyard tours in a large wagon pulled by a tractor. You can also sample Michigan wines by lake; board a sailboat to cruise Lake Michigan, stopping off to taste various vintages from local vineyards. Some bed-and-breakfasts offer a complete wine-tasting experience, with hosted dinners where you'll learn the history of area wines.

Any time is a good time to visit wine country, but enthusiasts recommend visiting Michigan wine country in spring or summer when the weather is cooperative. If you want to learn about the grape harvest, you should visit in the fall, when workers typically pick the grapes. Many wineries and restaurants in Michigan wine country hold seasonal festivals -- check a tourism Web site like MichiganWines.com to select one that sounds appealing to you.