A First-Class Leelanau County Winery
One of the most appealing aspects of a wine tour in Leelanau County is the sense that one is “getting away from it all.” With the abundance of open fields, rolling vineyards and pristine lakes, it’s easy to forget that you’re just fifteen minutes or so away from downtown Traverse City. This freedom-inspiring sense of escape is only enhanced with stops like Bel Lago Vineyards and Winery. Overlooking arguably the most beautiful inland lake in Northen Michigan, Lake Leelanau, Bel Lago is one of Leelanau’s best-kept secrets, although locals know it well for being a go-to place for exceptional wines and breathtaking views in, what we affectionately call, The County.
A Northern Michigan Tradition Since 1987
While Northern Michigan may seem to have always been a hotbed for vineyards and wineries, this hasn’t always been the case. Bel Lago was one of but a handful of vineyards to break ground back in the late 1980s, long before the world recognized Northern Michigan as a leader in producing quality wine. It’s really thanks to the wine pioneers that Northern Michigan wineries have found so much success – if vineyards like Bel Lago hadn’t proved that it could be done, we could have far fewer wineries in our region. The model that Bel Lago established in the late 1908s became the recipe for success for wineries around the area; in order to make it, you need a beautiful setting, preferably with a view of a body of water; friendly, knowledgeable staff, and you’d better produce exceptional vintages with consistency.
With vineyards growing near Lake Leelanau and Lake Michigan, Bel Lago’s operation is as local as can be for the area. This gives them the ability to monitor their grapes very closely, and measure, within hours, the preparedness of their grapes before starting the wine-making process.
Now the Good Part – Bel Lago’s Wine
Reviewing Bel Lago’s wine list is like reading a dessert menu for any wine enthusiast. Simply put, the diversity of their list provides a perfect combination of Northern Michigan staples and unique wines that you’re unlikely to find anywhere else in the region. Of particular interest is their ice wine, which originated when cherries were picked on a day in January when the temperatures descended to a frigid fourteen degrees – completely freezing the grapes before they were picked. The conditions for ice wine have to be perfect, so it’s not every winter that ice wines can be produced. That makes this wine unique – almost as unique as its taste that simply has to be sampled.
One of the most popular wine on our tours is the Bel Lago Red. This red is a blend of different varieties – Pinot Noir and Regent to name just a few. Its deep, rich texture comes from being aged for a year in oak barrels. When you have Bel Lago on your Leelanau wine tour, be sure to add the Bel Lago Red to your tasting experience!