Fishing at Houghton Lake
Guess who's making award-winning wines? Michigan. That's right.

Pre-Valentine’s Wine

Despite what the greeting card industry would have you believe, there’s no reason to wait for Valentine’s Day to indulge in a weekend of passion. This weekend (February 3 through 5), the Leelanau Peninsula in Northern Michigan hosts the Taste the Passion wine tour, an annual showcase of local vintages from the same parallel as the renowned wine growing regions of France’s Rhone Valley and Italy’s Piedmont region. The weekend kicks off Friday at 6 p.m. at The Homestead Resort (see “Where to Stay”), where visitors can sample small plates prepared by local chef John Piombo and look at paintings by local artists; tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door, and includes one glass of wine. On Saturday and Sunday, 17 wineries on the Leelanau trail will each offer a special wine-and-food pairing. Four stops to consider:

  • Black Star Farms (10844 E. Revold Rd., Suttons Bay; 231-944-1270, Here, you’ll find molten chocolate cake and pistachio-cranberry-white-chocolate bark paired with Sirius Raspberry dessert wine. For more permanent pairings, the Black Star Tasting Room manager Chris Lopez has the credentials to officiate weddings (be sure to bring your marriage license).
  • Brengman Brothers at Crain Hill (9720 S. Center Hwy., Traverse City; 231-946-2764, pairs bittersweet chocolate truffles, with bacon, Parmesan cheese, and sea salt, and its Runaway Hen syrah. Want to work off that bacon? Weather permitting, Brengman’s vineyards will be groomed into cross-country-skiing trails.
  • Forty-Five North Vineyard & Winery (8580 E. Horn Rd., Lake Leelanau; 231-271-1188, is also featuring bacon and skiing. The former comes wrapped around marinated figs and mascarpone cheese, paired with the 45 Red (a blend of pinot noir, cabernet, and merlot). The latter takes place on three miles of trail looping through the vineyards.
  • Silver Leaf Vineyard & Winery (11061 E. Silver Leaf Farm Rd., Suttons Bay; 231-271-3111, encourages sippers to get some fresh air after they’ve sampled Chafia Cherry paired with chocolate and cherry almond clusters. The snowshoe and ski trails (maps are provided, but bring your own snowshoes or skis or rent equipment at The Homestead Resort for $15 a day) runs for two miles from the Silver Leaf vineyard, through their cherry orchard, and across Tyler Creek.

GO Taste the Passion Wine Trail, February 3–5, Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan. Tickets are $30; for more information, go to or call 231-421-1172.

Where to stay: The Homestead Resort (1 Wood Ridge Rd., Glen Arbor; 231-334-5100, offers snowboarding and downhill skiing on the resort property, as well as lessons in both; rates start at $150 a night. The Vintage Earth Beach House (1672 Arrowhead Trail, Suttons Bay; 231-866-1877, has luxury suites, bayside views, an on-call masseuse, and a complimentary mulled wine bar; rates start at $89 a night.

Where to eat: At Martha’s Leelanau Table (413 N. St. Joseph St., Suttons Bay; 231-271-2344, chef/owner Martha Ryan changes her menu of pasta, steak, and seafood seasonally. Blu (5705 S. Lake St., Glen Arbor; 231-334-2530, specializes in entrees such as sea scallops and roasted beet risotto with white truffle oil and white-tail venison with Leelanau cherry sauce.


Photograph: Courtesy of Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association