History of the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail

This brief history was complied by Lorri Hathaway & Sharon Kegerreis, co-authors of The History of Michigan Wines and From the Vine: Exploring Michigan Wineries. 

The Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association (LPVA) is Michigan’s first wine trail. In the early 1980s, the peninsula consisted of four wineries: Boskydel Vineyards of Lake Leelanau, Leelanau Wine Cellars of Omena, Good Harbor Vineyards of Leland and L. Mawby Vineyards of Suttons Bay.

On March 15, 1983 vintners of the four wineries met informally to discuss the implementation of a brochure to promote the wineries cohesively and make it easier for the consumer to get to each of the tasting rooms by following a “trail.” The cohesive effort continued for several years and eventually expanded to include listings of area restaurants and overnight accommodations, making it even easier for the consumer to travel through Leelanau’s wine country.

A couple of years later, in 1985, Bruce Simpson of Good Harbor Vineyards co-founded the Leland Wine Fest, now one of the state’s largest and oldest wine festivals. The three other wineries participated as well, and Leelanau’s wines were all featured in one place for the first time.

The group collaborated for six years, until, in 1989, Bernie Rink of Boskydel Vineyard opted out of the group. As many of you may or may not know, Bernie is quite successful at producing a limited amount of wine and selling his wine with a word-of-mouth promotional plan. Today, Bernie continues this successful strategy. Due to lack of interest following Bernie’s departure, though, efforts ceased and the group eventually dissolved.

On the 15th anniversary of the initial group meeting, March 15, 1998, a new group was formed, officially reorganized as the Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association (LPVA). Founding members included all of the Leelanau Peninsula wineries that existed at that time except for Boskydel Vineyard.

As of 2014, the LPVA has 25 members and is a member-driven, winery association. The LPVA is governed by a Board of Directors consisting of seven winery representatives. An Executive Director manages the day-to-day operations.

The purpose of the present-day association is to promote the wines of Leelanau Peninsula and increase traffic through the tasting rooms. Our main objective is to make your tour through Leelanau Wine Country fun, exciting and easy to do. An annual brochure with a detailed map is available to make getting from winery to winery simple. A website at www.lpwines.com consists of user-friendly information about the wineries of Leelanau Peninsula. And, four signature wine events add extra excitement to your wine trail tour. These events are Taste the Passion hosted in February, Spring Sip and Savor hosted in May, Harvest Stompede hosted in September and Toast the Season hosted in November. Today, the Leland Wine Fest still continues and, in 2010, celebrated its 25th anniversary.