There are more than 100 wineries in Michigan, but enthusiasts in the southeastern region don’t need to travel far to enjoy a wine tasting or two. After all, the new 275-mile Thumbs Up Wine Trail, which meanders from metro Detroit to Bad Axe back down through Port Huron and into New Baltimore, includes 13 member vineyards and wineries, as well as other attractions like cider houses.
“Everyone tends to go up north or to the west side of the state for wine tours,” says Patrick Mulrenin, treasurer of the nonprofit trail association, and owner of Fieldstone Winery in downtown Rochester. “Our (position) is that you can just spend a Sunday afternoon tasting wine (in southeast Michigan).”
Guests who partake in the self-guided driving tours along the trail can opt to buy a $15 trail passport, which provides special offers and discounts for member wineries and events. Mulrenin says he’s already noticed an uptick in business following the passport’s December release.
Other joint efforts include providing wine for community events, such as an upcoming wine tasting party at Jeddo Lions Hall in St. Clair County (Feb. 7) and the Taste of the Bluewater in Port Huron (March 7).
While the Thumbs Up Wine Trail has been in existence since 2013, with efforts mainly supporting cross promotional internal marketing, the organization is picking up steam as it plans for its grand opening event, to be held May 31 at the Packard Proving Grounds in Shelby Township. Details are still being worked out, but food, wine, and entertainment are expected to be on the agenda.
The event, designed to be promote the organization’s members and wine industry in Michigan’s southeastern and Thumb region, is likely to be an annual event, Mulrenin says.
In time, the trail hopes to add more businesses to its route, says Mulrenin, noting that they keep a close eye on who’s applying for wine maker licenses east of I-75 and north of Harrison Township.
“A lot of people might consider (the members) to be competitors, but we’re not really,” he says. “In the wine industry, everyone wants something different, so it helps share those customers bases.”
Members include Blake’s Ciderhouse & Winery in Armada; Dizzy Daisy Winery in Bad Axe; Filipo Marc Winery in Clinton Township; 3 North Vines in Croswell; Superior Lakes Hand Crafted Mead & Wine in Harrison Township; Sandy Shores Winery in Jeddo; Blue Water Winery & Vineyards in Lexington; Sage Crek Winery in Memphis; Washington Street Wine House in New Baltimore; Fieldstone Winery in Rochester; Village Winery in Romeo; Green Barn Winery in Smiths Creek; and Westview Orchards Winery in Washington Twp.
For more information about the Thumbs Up Wine Trail, visit thumbsupmi.com.â€‹