Wine buzz to Manistee and Traverse City

Hello little Reader Family!

I hope you are soaking in every crisp breeze that Fall has offered thus far.  Last year I wrote of my passionate love affair I have with this season and it seems that time has not weakened our love for one another.  

In honor of Fall, I took a short trip up north this past weekend to enjoy some Michigan wineries, food, and of course, Michigan’s finest Fall colors.  

Okay, it was also in honor of Ryan, who’s birthday we were celebrating.  (One of these days I’ll tell you that whole story.)

We left early on Friday afternoon and hopped on US31 for the scenic drive up towards Ludington, where we planned to begin our wine adventures.  

We started here, at Jamaghra Vineyards

Insanely cute, right?


Wrong.  Through that front door, friends, lie 5 million fruit flies – deceitfully dormant until wine is poured, at which time they will surely attack.  Around your head, in your glass, in your ears, eyes, jacket, shoe, butt crack.  Everywhere.

The helpful man who assisted us in our wine tasting stood completely oblivious as we covered our glasses and dipped our fingers into our wine to remove the tiny bodies.  I waved my hands about dramatically and even opened the front door, hoping the flies would notice an escape route and flee from their inside chamber.  When that did not happen, we made our escape instead, our first tasting exceptionally disturbing and hilarious.  “Off to a good start!” we laughed as we drove off to our next spot while I continued to find fruit flies in my nostrils.

Stop #2 was this 


and it was closed.  Since we were in the middle of nowhere and I had to take a serious leak, I was forced to use their outdoor bathroom, which happened to not exist, so I peed behind the building and had this remarkable view.


We left with empty bladders and a fading buzz and journeyed on to Manistee, where we planned to stay for the evening.  

Our goal, upon our arrival to downtown Manistee, was to find a local hole in the wall to quench our thirst that our first couple stops could not.  We parked the car, stretched our legs, crossed the street and walked down a couple stairs to a magical place known as TJ’s bar (  It’s a local hot spot – with a cozy fireplace, brick floor, and friendly service.  We set up camp and never left.  Or so we wanted.  We each had a drink and shared a bowl of cheddar broccoli soup and left prepared to find what else this surprising town had to offer.  

We visited one store, and we again hit the jackpot. Surroundings ( offers incense, cigars (we’re talking a walk-in humidor, people), antiques, and other unique gifts.  Neither of us are cigar smokers, nor do we care to burn incense, and I don’t necessarily need any antiques, but holy cuss, we stayed there forever, chatting away with the sweetest of women behind the counter.

At this point, we love Manistee.  We went golfing at Manistee National Golf Course (correction, Ryan golfed, I read my book and drank vodka tonic), and ate at a fantastic local restaurant called The River Street Station.  We ended the day as some of the happiest Michiganders.

Saturday morning rolled around and we were determined to find wineries that were both open and free of flying insects. 


Why we chose to follow signs to another discrete and middle-of-nowhere winery, I have no clue.  But we did, and the wine gods must have decided to show us more favor on that glorious morning, because low and behold, we found Douglas Valley.  And there, at 11 am we sipped ecstatically some incredible wines and ciders.  Under the shade of a Willow tree.  In the country.  With a perfect fall breeze.  And then I died from happiness.

I didn’t.  But I felt like that could have been a possibility.



From that point on we stopped at winery after winery (consuming only a wise amount of alcohol at each spot) as we continued North, our destination being Leelenau Cellars.  

Every spot was killer. I don’t know how many times we high-fived in glee.

After the wine, one must dine – and we did so at Mackinac Brewing Company ( Ryan’s cousin, Jamie (also your local news star), where we ate Lemon Pepper Parmesan encrusted Whitefish.  Sorry, let me rephrase – we destroyed whitefish.  That fish did not stand a chance.

Towards the end of our meal, ominous dark clouds began rolling in, threatening to rain on our glorious day and we stared back, daring it to ruin our tenting night we had planned at the KOA campground just south of Traverse City.

It responded to our dare by pouring as we set up camp in the rainy darkness.

We did not give a shit about the rain and the puddles and waking up in a half deflated mattress when we woke up to realize we were in Fall Heaven.


(please ignore the ridiculously placed rain fly…)

We packed up, the weekend gone too soon.  

It was a good tribute to Fall, to Ryan’s birthday, to celebrating life and enjoying this great state we live in

So Cheers!!

this time to beautiful Michigan


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