Up North: Day 3

On our third day, we decided to go wine tasting after checking out of our hotel. A friend of mine, who is from California, thinks it’s crazy that Michigan has it’s own little wine country. But, it’s true, and the wines of Leelanau Peninsula are delicious and the scenery is beautiful along the way.

Before we left Traverse City, we stopped at Stone House Bread for some freshly baked bread. Delicious. Then, we drove (almost) all the way up the peninsula to Northport. We were pleasantly surprised that they were having their weekly farmer’s market and bought some cherries for our picnic lunch.

I had read good reviews of the tasting experience at Black Star Farms, so we made that our first stop. For $5 you can taste 5 wines and receive a souvenir wine glass. When it comes to wine, Ross and I have different preferences–I like sweet, he likes dry. So, we tasted very different wines, but both liked the award-winning Cherry.

Black Star Farms is also home to Leelanau Cheese. We sampled a few pieces with our wine, thought it was yummy, and bought a wedge to go along with our bread and cherries. Perfect winery picnic lunch.

Our next stop was Shady Lane Cellars. It is a MUCH smaller operation, but in a very good way.

The tasting room is a renovated and converted chicken coop! Appropriately, their house wines are called Coop de Blanc, Coop de Rouge and Coop de Rose. Clever.

We decided to split a tasting here. Those little servings start to accumulate and you eventually have quite a bit of alcohol in you! I can see why many people opt to rent a limo or do one of the winery tours where transporation is provided for you.

We were done after two wineries…and completely exhausted. But we still had to drive to Bellaire, check in to our Bed and Breakfast, and then drive to Charlevoix to meet up with our friends, K & D, for dinner.

As I mentioned before, we checked out of our hotel on this morning. We wanted a beach experience for a few days–although, we hardly spent any time there…note taken–but were open to a new experience for the latter half of our trip. I stumbled upon a stunning Bed & Breakfast in Bellaire–about half way between Traverse City and Petosky. The location was perfect for our evening plans as well as our day trip to Mackinac Island the following day.

My first time at a bed & breakfast occurred about two months ago. It was a wonderful, relaxing experience with a few girl friends in East Lansing. This was Ross’s first experience and he might have been slightly timid towards the idea of staying in a house and eating with total strangers. However, neither of us have anything bad to say about our stay at the Bellaire Bed & Breakfast. If the rest of our family lived closer and we were looking for a unique way of spending some time together, this is the first place I would recommend. Our hosts, Jim and Dave, were kind, courteous, welcoming, helpful…they thought of every detail to make their guests comfortable and look for a reason to return.

We were greeted by Monica who showed us around the house–this is the library with current magazines and unique treasures from your hosts’ travels around the world…I call it the “heart of the home”…this is the dining room where breakfast will be served at 9 a.m….the last one to sit becomes Jim’s “food buddy” and is in charge of making sure the food is eaten by everyone else…if you’re hungry by 2 p.m., you’ve been too polite…Jim is an award-winning gardener, so feel free to take in the grounds during your stay…will you be joining us for our daily wine and cheese gathering on the terrace?

That place is a well-oiled machine! But everyone is very down to earth and the people we met during our stay were all very nice, easy to talk to, and helpful when it came to dining and route suggestions.

We stayed in the Vintage Room because it was the cheapest one and offset the cost of our pricier room in Traverse City. It was small, but perfect for our stay. It did not have a shower, but the private bathroom housed an claw foot bath tub with a european shower head. So, we made do.

We were able to stay for the wine and cheese gathering, but opted for the peach tea instead of the wine. We had enough of that for the day. We met Jim and Dave, got a glimpse of their springer spaniel, Tuck, and King Charles Cavalier, Chip, who were let out briefly, grabbed an umbrella from the hall tree inside (just in case), and were off to Charlevoix.

Charlevoix is such a pretty town. I would live here in a heartbeat (except for winter). With Round Lake to the east and Lake Michigan to the northwest, it is a charming harbor town. The downtown is separated from Round Lake by this beautifully designed park:

We arrived a little early, so we took in the harbor and then spotted our friends doing the same thing.

We ate dinner at Whitney’s of Charlevoix. Ross had the Shrimp Creole, which he said was ok, but not great. I don’t eat seafood. And since this was an oyster bar, I knew I would have a limited selection. Lo and behold, the vegetable risotto saved the day. And it was good. I would have had seconds if I could.

We walked to the beach of Lake Michigan and took our first and only photo of the four of us. Seriously. We’ve known each other for five years.

And we got a pretty good one of just the two of us, too!

On our way back to town, we admired the stone houses designed by Karl Young. Kinda cool. Kinda strange. And we ended our evening with K & D by getting some ice cream from Kilwins. Mmmm…

Thankfully, we did not need the umbrella. We returned to the B&B and slept like rocks until the smell of breakfast woke us up the next morning.

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