The Traverse City area now boasts over thirty wineries, nine microbreweries and several distilleries. According to the Pure Michigan guide magazine, it’s “Traverse City’s combination of climate, topography and soils…it’s ‘northern-ness’ that makes the wine so good.” Needless to say, we had to try a couple.
There’s so much we wanted to see and do in a short couple of days here that we only planned on hitting one winery and one distillery. Because we didn’t know exactly how long we’d be spending on some things our timing didn’t exactly work out…we found ourselves driving from one peninsula to the other and back again! Oh well, the scenery was beautiful. Our first stop was the Old Mission Lighthouse on the northern tip of the Old Mission Peninsula. The views out into Lake Michigan were incredible.
The Leelanau Pie and Pastry shop is a little building along the road where they’re making fresh pies and pastries on site. I guess our friends got a pie right out of the oven and it was fabulous. We chose some pastries out of the case and while they were good, we felt it wasn’t anything special. Down the street, however, was something special. Northern Latitudes Distillery is a local operation with a small tasting room – another small building along the road. You’d miss it if you weren’t looking for it. At Northern Latitudes they make just eight craft spirits with a uniqueness we enjoyed. They offer free tastings – 3 or 4 samples per person. Between 3 of us we tasted everything they had! They make three different vodkas: Ice Dunes Vodka, Apollo Horseradish Vodka and our favorite, Deer Camp Vodka, made from Michigan sugar beets. They were out of their Manitou Passage Rum, so we didn’t get to try that, but the Jack Pine Gin was outstanding. “Local Leelanau botanicals like jack pine seed and lavender create a distinct and deeply regional gin.” A rich Mackinac Island Fudge Liqueur and ultra-smooth Limoncello di Leelanau round out the offerings. They are also selling a nice bourbon whiskey, but not their own. Being a newer distillery, their bourbon is not yet ready. There are a few tables where you can sit and enjoy cocktails crafted from their spirits. A gift shop offers some unique barware and accessories. We chose to bring home bottles of the Deer Camp Vodka, Jack Pine Gin and Limoncello di Leelanau.
We had planned on finishing out our day by renting jet skis back at our resort, but a huge thunderstorm forced us to resort to the indoor pool. We asked at the front desk about local pizza places that would deliver to the resort and she recommended That’s A Pizza. It was delivered to our room in record time and was really delicious…perfect for a rainy night indoors.
Part Three (the end of this trip!) coming tomorrow.