Wining and Dining in Traverse City

One thing that always happens to me, whether I visit somewhere for a weekend or live there for years, is that when it comes time to depart, I inevitably feel a twinge of regret at all the things I never got around to doing, all the restaurants I never dined at, all the landmarks I didn’t get a chance to see.

So it wasn’t surprising that as my time in Michigan drew to a close, I couldn’t help but feel I hadn’t quite done enough in my beloved home state, despite spending roughly 25 years living there. As a last hurrah in the mitten, I proposed a family trip to Traverse City, a place I hadn’t been since I was a kid. My reason for wanting to visit, in fact, was something I never could have done as a child: wine drinking, of course.

I kept hearing about Traverse City’s multitude of wineries, but it wasn’t until we arrived that I actually realized just how many of them there were – over one hundred, in fact. While we only visited a small fraction of them, luckily for us, we wound up basing ourselves at one of the best: Black Star Farms.

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The Inn at Black Star Farms was pretty perfect: beautiful rooms and grounds, generous complimentary happy hours, and to-die-for breakfasts whipped up from scratch for you each morning.

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When you stay at Black Star Farms, you also get a top-notch wine tasting experience – a full selection of wines, finished off with several samples of very strong liqueurs. It was fantastic. My tip for Black Star? Stock up on their Late Harvest Riesling, their signature wine.

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In addition to Black Star Farms, we visited three other wineries. First up was Chateau Chantal, which stuck out in my mind for the gorgeous views of the surrounding vineyards.

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We also stopped into Bowers Harbor, which had a more rustic, homey vibe:

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And we finished with Brys Estate, which was quiet but had a very knowledgeable, helpful staff:

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As the title of this post might suggest, we did a fair bit of dining in Traverse City in addition to all the wining. My very favorite stop was Trattoria Stella, a fantastic Italian restaurant (apparently, it’s also one of Mario Batali’s Traverse City favorites, too). We ate dinner there, meaning I didn’t get any pictures because of the low light – so you’ll just have to trust me when I say that every dish is fantastic and you should go there.

In other culinary news, we had fish and chips at the North Peak Brewing Company:

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Made our way up to Aerie, the restaurant at the top of the Grand Traverse Resort, for Mother’s Day brunch:


Had tasty sushi at Red Ginger:

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And stocked up on fromage at Leelanau Cheese:

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As far as weekend getaways go, it was a pretty great one – and only reminded me how many more things I have left to experience in pure Michigan.

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