The lush cherry orchards and verdant wineries of Traverse City go dormant for the winter, but the two peninsulas that produce the region’s renowned rieslings and cab francs take on a quieter, more ethereal glow when hushed with snow. Touring & Tasting travel guide calls Michigan’s Old Mission Peninsula one of its seven top wine regions to watch — the only choice on the list that’s not in California.
Fortunately, there’s no need to wait until spring’s thaw to sip and sample some of the territory’s best varietals. Old Mission Snowshoe Wine & Brew ($20; 231-223-4333) schedules guided trips each Sunday afternoon through February. The party starts on the Traverse City Brew Bus, which transports trailblazers from the Jolly Pumpkin brewpub and distillery to Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery; guests then trek a flagged snowshoe trail about 2 miles over to Bowers Harbor Vineyard before hiking back to the starting point. As exercise, snowshoeing can be as strenuous as you want it to be. The packed trails make it easier to navigate, though beginners may want to stick to a more leisurely pace.
If you find out you’re a natural, strap on a pair of cross-country skis or snowshoes for a DIY winetasting tour of the Leelanau Peninsula along a 7.5-mile groomed trail that links the rustic 45 North Vineyard & Winery (8580 E. Horn Rd., 231-271-1188) and the contemporary-leaning Blustone Vineyards (780 N. Sylt Rd., 231-256-0146). Rent a pair of snowshoes or cross-country skis for the day at Suttons Bay Bikes (318 St. Joseph St., 231-421-6815).
Lest teetotalers feel left out, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing excursions on the Mission Point Lighthouse Park trail (20500 Center Rd., 231-223-7324) offer a variety of terrain to tackle and fabulous scenery. Just don’t forget to pack aspirin to soothe any sore muscles. Or a hangover.