Largest of five Michigan wine regions, the Lake Michigan Shore AVA consists of 21 wineries nestled among scenic farms and orchards. Offering beautiful views, unique experiences, and a surprising range of wines (depending upon the last time you checked), tasting on the trail is one of our most popular afternoon adventures.
The majority of Lake Michigan Shore wines are estate grown, produced, and bottled in small batches. Sharing a similar latitude and climate with great European wine growing regions, the best Lake Michigan Shore wines tend to have an old world profile, or in other words, are exceedingly drinkable and easily paired with food. Sweeter fruit and late harvest wines are also in generous supply, a result of the region’s fruit belt heritage and extended growing season. As wine production grows – nearly doubling in the last ten years – so does range and sophistication. Each year brings tasty new vintages for every palate.
From casual, self-guided exploration to curated, expert-led discovery, wine tasting is just the beginning of your fun on the trail. Enjoy lunch overlooking the vineyard at Tabor Hill, or u-pick seasonal fruit on Lemon Creek’s historic family farm. Take in a feature film by the fire at Dablon, or level-up your skills at a Hickory Creek seminar. Whether your speed is low key or high octane, patio gazing or festival dancing, memorable experiences abound.
Navigating the wine trail is easy as most of the wineries are located in clusters throughout the region. Of 21 wineries, nine are conveniently grouped in the southernmost portion, about twenty minutes from the New Buffalo lakeshore. Scenic in every season, the drive between wineries is lovely.
But if your plan is to taste freely and take in the view from the passenger seat, private or group tours are a great choice. Limousines, luxury coaches, and even a tractor-pulled open-air wagon allow you to relax and enjoy the trail’s most popular stops with minimal decision-making. Many include lunch stops or picnics on vineyard grounds.
Like the lakeshore, wine tasting on the trail is casual, friendly, and fun, with plenty of opportunities to chat up fellow tasters, guides, and the winemakers themselves. Some of the best vintages are only available here, where they are made, so we encourage you to engage and explore. Ultimately, every winemaker’s journey moves through land, craft, and the pleasure of consumption. There’s no better place to share the experience than on the vineyards themselves.
For more on individual wineries, see our guide to Wine Tasting on the Trail, or explore the links below.