Everybody loves the long days and bright sun of summer, but around here, falling temperatures and shorter days bring smiles– Leelanau County is never more beautiful than when the leaves are changing. The lake stays warm even after the air temperature drops, so swimming is often possible much later than one would expect. Best of all? Autumn means you can have the place practically to yourself– after labor day, crowds thin out, and prices drop as Leelanau Golf courses, restaurants, and vineyards celebrate the beauty of this restful season. Call 231.334.5000 to book any of the packages.
Take a Leelanau Peninsula wine tour and let The Homestead do the driving. Afternoon tours by passenger shuttle bus are happening every week now and on into fall. Here’s a look at the four award-winning wineries you’ll experience, along with advice on what to sample while you’re there.
Wine tours are fun. Picking the designated driver? Not so much.
Wouldn’t it be great to jump in a van with a bunch of your friends and be driven around by a local—someone who not only knew all the best wineries in the county but would have you back safely in time for dinner? Enter The Homestead.
The Homestead hosts wine tours every Tuesday from 12pm to 5pm. Transportation is provided by a passenger shuttle bus and departs from the resort's Village, just outside of Cavanaugh's. From there you’ll hit four of the best, award-winning wineries in the region:
Good Harbor Vineyards
Location: Lake Leelanau
What Makes It Great: Lake Leelanau’s Good Harbor Vineyard is a family-owned operation located on North Manitou Trail in the heart of the Leelanau Peninsula. For three generations, Good Harbor Vineyards has developed over 65 acres of land (planted to vine) and now boasts one of the largest Pinot Grigio plantings in Michigan.
Must Try Wines: 2013 Riesling and 2016 Rosé, both Double Gold winners at the recent 40th Annual Michigan Wine Competion.
Location: Lake Leelanau
What Makes It Great: Chateau Fontain is a family-run winery that started growing grapes in 1987. Starting with Chardonnay, Pino Gris and Pinot Noir, Chateau Fontaine now grows 15 varietals and produces some of the most awarded wines in Michigan. Beyond recognition in the Midwest, Chateau Fontaine has even garnered world distinction for several of their white wines, winning the John Rose Award at the Finger Lakes International Competition for dry and semi-sweet White Rieslings in 2012 and 2013, respectively, and the Best Pacific Rim White Wine for their 2010 Gewurztraminer.
Must Try Wines: Chateau Fontaine won a four gold medals and seven silver medals at July’s 40th Annual Michigan Wine Competition. But their 2016 Laughing Waters Dry Rosé was one of the events biggest standouts when it took home both Double Gold and Best of Class in Rosé.
Bel Lago Vineyards & Winery
What Makes It Great: If the view of vineyard against the backdrop of south Lake Leelanau doesn’t move you, Bel Lago’s wine and cider will. Founded in 1987, Bel Lago grows more than 100 varieties on 37 acres. In addition to popular vinifera varieties including Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Gewurztraminer and Riesling, Bel Lago also specializes in rare varieties like Auxerrois, Siegerrebe and Cayuga White among many others. In addition to wine, the Bel Lago cidery produces several hard ciders, including oaked, hopped and flavored varieties.
Must Try Wines
Autumn is right around the corner and that means harvest season—that special time of year when local farm stands, markets and U-pick orchards all across Leelanau County are busting with fresh-picked vegetables, local fruit and berries. Here we rundown a few our favorite places to taste and enjoy the farm-fresh experience starting this month.
Fun And Freshness
It’s picking time again in Leelanau County for blueberries, red and black raspberries and even gooseberries. That’s followed in early October by the ripening of the apple crop, which an adventure that the whole family can enjoy.
Alpers Berry Farm
Season: Season varies, mid-July to mid-Aug. U-pick, seven days a week, 10 AM to 6 PM. Call ahead for U-pick. 231-271-6656
Location: Just two miles north of Suttons Bay, Michigan, on the right hand side of Setterbo Road
U-Pick: Blueberries, black and red raspberries, gooseberries
Season: Mid-April through October 31st. Hours 9am to 6pm Monday through Sunday.
Location: Take M-72 west out of Traverse City, approximately 13 miles to County Road 667 (Maple City Rd). Turn right and follow County Road 667 into Maple City. One hundred yards past the flashing light, turn left on Burdickville Road (County Road 616). Farm is located 1/4 mile further on the left.
Good Neighbor Farms of Leelanau County
U-Pick: apples, black raspberries, blackberries
Season: Mid-August and apples during weekends in October (please call first). Good Neighbor Farms has 13 varieties of apples, five varieties of garlic, six varieties of lavender, black rapberries, and blackberries.
Location: 9885 Engles Road, Northport, Michigan, 49670. Phone 231-271-5679. Take M-22, three miles south of Northport.
Buy Fresh. Buy Local.
While the 2017 farmers’ market season officially kicked off back in mid June, September is the month when roadside stands and market tables bow under the heaping weight of farm-fresh goodness. It’s all here: local honey, fresh-pressed cider, vegetables, pecks of apples and peaches. Here’s a town-by-town rundown of times and dates for farm-market buying from Northport to Empire.
Suttons Bay Farmer's Market
May 12th – October 27th
9 am to 1 pm, Saturdays
Located at North Park, intersection of M-22 & M-204 (601 Front Street)
Empire Farmer’s Market
June 16th – September 15th
9 am to 1 pm, Saturdays
Located next to the Post Office (10234 W Front St)
Lake Leelanau Farmer's Market
Got your attention? Conservation matters at The Homestead, which is why the ongoing upgrades to air conditioning units and plumbing fixtures—including new toilets in all the hotel rooms—have us pretty excited. Keep reading to find out how these simple upgrades are helping the resort save water and energy all while cutting costs.
Did you know that turning off the water while you brush your teeth saves up to four gallons of water per minute? Did you know one leaky toilet can fill a swimming pool in a year? And don’t even get us started with all the wasted water old showerheads put down the drain.
Being good stewards to the environment means the resort is constantly looking for ways to use water and energy more efficiently. That’s why The Homestead recently began a yearlong “tap to toilet” replacement initiative that has also grown to include the installation of brand new air conditioning and heating units in Little Belle.
Welcome To …
Looking for a fun way to improve your balance, reduce stress and burn some calories? Rent a SUP, kayak or aqua-cycle the next time you’re down at the Beach Club and enjoy some of these great health benefits. Read on.
You’ve heard of jazzercise. Well, think of this as “beachercise.” Standup paddleboards (SUPs), kayaks and aqua-cycles provide some great exercise that families and friends on a beach vacation at The Homestead can all do together and enjoy.
Improve Your Balance
As the name implies, standup paddleboards require you to stand on and paddle what amounts to an over-sized surfboard. Not hard to learn, but it does require a little focus, some leg strength and core stability to maintain your balance. Standup paddle boarding offers a full-body, low impact workout that gives you the stress-reducing feeling of walking on water once you get your technique down.
Burn Some Calories
According to the folks at Health Fitness Revolution, to move the kayak at about 5 mph requires about 0.1-hp of effort. This amounts to around 400 calories per hour. That means four hours of paddling burns an amazing 1,600 calories. In addition to the great scenery you enjoy while paddling along the Crystal River or along the beach …