Traverse City Part 2 – Wine, Cheese and Jerky

On our second day (first full day) in TC we took a trip up the Old Mission Peninsula.  The plan was to start at the “top”, at the lighthouse, and work our way down, hitting some of the wineries along the way.

To get to the lighthouse, we took Center Road (Rt. 37) up with a detour along Bluff Road, keeping most of the drive along the shore of the east bay.  It was very scenic.  (It’s good to get off the main roads once and a while.)

We spent a little bit of time at the lighthouse, taking pictures and just enjoying the scenery.  (The lighthouse itself is nothing spectacular, apart from the historical aspect, but the surrounding scenery is wonderful.)

Our first stop on the way back was Old Mission Tavern/Bella Galeria, which, as the name implies, is part tavern part art gallery.  We checked out the art, some of which was very nice, but some of which was a bit amateurish.  We decided not to stay for food or drinks at this point, but just to continue on our journey.  

From there we went to Chateau Chantal.  Situated on top of a large hill, the views from there were wonderful.  Before going in we spent some time walking around taking photos.  Inside, of course, the main attraction is the wine tasting.  We each tried a few different wines, but weren’t particular impressed by any of them.  One of the ones I tried had a very nice “nose” to it, but lacked the flavor to back it up.  Carrie found one she thought her parents would like and bought a bottle to give to them.

Next, we made our way to Chateau Grand Traverse Winery.  (Nearly driving past, as the sign out front is easy to miss.)  This time there were a couple of wines we both liked, and we bought a few bottles.  Overall, though, they weren’t all that impressive.  (And these two wineries are supposed to be the top ones on the peninsula.)

We stopped for lunch at The Peninsula Grill (which seemed more “tavern” like than the Old Mission Tavern).  They had a decent selection of beer and a huge selection of wines (not just the local wines).  The food was excellent.

After we ate, we popped into the Peninsula Market (right next door) to pick up a few things (and do some browsing).  We were told this was a “foodie’s paradise”, but we were not impressed.  (The following day we stopped at Burritt’s Fresh Markets in Traverse City, which blew Peninsula Market out of the water.  btw – These were the two places I referred to in the earlier Traverse City post that had a small but overpriced selection of craft and import beers.)

After dropping some stuff off at the hotel and getting out guide book, we headed up the Leelanau Peninsula to find the Leelanau Cheese Co. (which is part of Black Star Farms).  We were eager to try locally made cheese, but were disappointed that they only had a small selection in a cooler in the back, and you could only taste one of those.  It’s a shame, really, as Black Star Farms has the opportunity to really set themselves apart from the other wineries by showcasing the cheese and offering the wine as a compliment to the cheese, and not the main focus.  (We didn’t try any of the wine, as we were a bit “wined-out”, especially since none of the wines thus far has been exceptional.)

Still, Black Star does set itself apart by being an actual farm (mostly horses, from what I could tell) with a petting zoo and a farmer’s market (but again, the market here was nothing extraordinary).

On our way back into town we stopped by Deerings Meat Market to sample and pick up some of their famous jerky.  This was the one stop of the day that I would consider a do-not-miss.  Even if you think you don’t like jerky (and maybe you’re thinking of that crap they sell in convenience stores), you have to try theirs.

All in all, even though the wines were not that impressive, and the cheese was nothing to write home about, the trip itself was a good way to spend half of the day.  My only regret is not buying more of the jerky to bring back with us!