VIDEO: The Most Civilized Thing in the World

Posted In: Airstream, Blog, Destinations, Video, Wine

Several years ago, my brother and his family lived in Detroit. I thus visited the Motor City many times. While we spent much of our time just hangin’ out in the suburbs, we also explored vast expanses of urban sprawl for which Detroit is famous (and/or infamous). Thereafter, whenever someone mentioned “Michigan,” my brain conjured images of concrete, steel, and asphalt.

But this stretch of our Long Long Honeymoon has opened my eyes. The vast majority of Michigan could not be more different from Mo-Town. Most of the state is blessedly rural. The western coast is fantastic, as Lake Michigan is practically an ocean. As you travel north, summer camping just gets better. We’ve been rewarded with idyllic weather (sunny days, low humidity, cool nights) and spectacular coastal views.

We’ve also found charm and culture. Traverse City is hailed as the Cherry Republic (and to think we started our journey in Key West, the Conch Republic!). But the area near Traverse City is wine country. On nearby Old Mission Peninsula we discovered one of Michigan’s best wineries: Chateau Grand Traverse.

This family winery was founded back in the mid-1970s by Ed O’Keefe. The Michigan countryside reminded O’Keefe of German wine country. So why not grow the same grapes here that flourish in Germany? At the time, naysayers believed such grapes would not survive the Michigan climate. But O’Keefe (and his grapes) persevered, and today his winery produces award-winning Rieslings, amongst other varietals.

Wine tasting at Chateau Grand Traverse is FREE, as are hourly guided tours. I’m a red wine drinker, so I favored the outstanding Pinot Noir. But I did sample the Lot 49 Riesling that has won international awards and is certainly one of the finest white wines ever to pass this man’s palate.

Chateau Grand Traverse also produces several wines flavored with native cherries. The Cherry Festival Wine was surprisingly good. Upon Kristy’s insistence, we also departed with a bottle of Grand Traverse Select Sweet Traverse Red, a sweet (but not too sweet) red wine blend.

The winery has RV parking. If you want to step out of the RV for a night or two, there’s a fabulous Winery Inn on the property. The Inn offers rooms with private balconies overlooking the vineyards. It also has laundry facilities, which were especially helpful for us. Best of all, the daily towel service includes a bottle of wine of your choice!

If you find yourself wandering this part of Michigan (and if you enjoy fabulous summer camping, you should), stop at Chateau Grand Traverse. We loved it.

Special thanks to Ed O’Keefe Sr. and the staff at Chateau Grand Traverse for their hospitality.

Also thanks to fellow Airstreamer Nick Martines for steering our Long Long Honeymoon in this direction!

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