i’m seriously considering breaking our rule of you can’t vacation to the same place twice. while that was a good rule for getting out and about in the world there is something about heading to a familiar place and feeling like you are home. i can honestly say that is what the leland lodge feels like when joe, otto and i go to visit. it’s warm and welcoming and just feels like you belong there. (the fresh baked cookies definitely help). this past weekend was our second visit to the lodge and this time we brought the entire gang of albers with us. we were bad kids and didn’t really celebrate mothers day, fathers day etc so we got 99% of the family together and headed to the lodge. (one sister in law is due for baby #4 very soon and was ordered to stay home). with an entire family it’s almost impossible to find something that everyone can agree on and like to do. the general plan was we just wanted to relax. heading straight from a downtown new york city hotel room to the spacious rooms at the lodge was such a nice transition. my room in NYC had a bed and an ironing board. no nightstand just a shelf. my room at the lodge had murphy beds in case more kiddos came along, a king size bed, sofa, closet and full bathroom. plenty of space to spread out and relax. it’s funny the change in otto since our last visit back on mothers day weekend. he wasn’t getting around all that much and just kind of sat in one place. this trip he was ALL OVER THE PLACE. he was very into the wicker basket that held the remote control in the room near the tv. it was so nice to be in a kid friendly area. not a lot of hazards to worry about and i could (borderline) shower in peace. (he thinks it’s hilarious to touch toilets now). to see a full room click here.
i literally jumped off the plane and met joe and otto in a park and ride and we boogied up to the lodge friday night. we got in late but were left with a note and cookies. we snuggled in for the night and ate cookies while watching tv and fell asleep. aka heaven.
the next morning we met up with the family and headed to figs for breakfast while we waited for the rest of the crew. again, going out to eat with multiple personalities can be tricky but figs is always a slam dunk for breakfast. everyone in the family loved it and we relaxed and drank coffee and planned out the day. i love smaller breakfast places where you walk in and everyone just knows each other. people were in light sweaters chatting away enjoying the breakfast and walking in felt like joining a party. joe got the breakfast burrito that was just spicy enough. the salsa verde on it was absolutely incredible. my mother in law and i both had the french toast with ricotta and granola on it. needless to say by the end of breakfast we were all needing a little morning nap but we had a full day of things to do. we sat and drank a little more coffee before heading out to tackle the list of leisure for the day.
we went back to the lodge and the men headed off to play golf next to the lodge and us gals walked around the shops until it was time for our ride around the vineyards. we went to the cutest little bookstore that had great selections and the friendliest woman working the counter. of course we had to stop at two fish gallery to get more pairs of THE ONLY SOCKS OTTO WEARS. i swear the kid hates hates hates things on his feet and they sell these “mismatched” thick knit socks that he will at least wear while he is in the stroller. the store itself and those who run it are just wonderful and we love stopping in to see what is new.
after a morning of shopping we walked back to the lodge (about 3ish blocks from shopping) and met up with the most awesome driver in the universe, doug. he truly is wonderful but i have to sing his praises because after a day of wine tasting with my mother and sister in law he knows all our family secrets. but truly, he was wonderful and took us to three beautiful wineries and walked around pushing otto in the stroller while we tasted. he moved to leelanau from chicago and you could tell he was just a genuinely happy guy. we enjoyed our time with him as much as we enjoyed the tasty wine and cheese.
i was so excited to go wine tasting saturday because there were two on the list i’ve never been to. our first stop was bluestone about a 5 minute drive from the lodge. each winery has it’s own vibe and feel, but i was in love with the clean sleek modern tasting room. there are not many tasting rooms that overlook directly in to the vineyard and this one had huge clear windows that you looked out into while tasting. our guide jenn at the vineyard was amazing. i feel like i truly got an education on the wine grown there. another bonus about bluestone was that all the wine was 100% michigan grown grapes. they only supplemented for one or two wines but it was from south michigan grapes. over the years i’ve learned that many vineyards in michigan get grapes from sister wineries all over the world it’s rare to find exclusive michigan only wines. another trend i started to notice in the northern region is many wineries are starting to dabble in cider. and some are doing a pretty darn good job at it. i left bluestone with a few bottles of their 2016 and 2017 ad-lib red and a bottle of their heirloom apple cider and the ginger cider. the ad-lib red wine is a lovely simple table red. it’s not overly dry and not too sweet. it’s smooth and easy to drink. almost too easy since we only have one bottle left at home now. i bought both ciders but the ginger was by far my favorite. it tasted like michigan crisp fall in a glass. the ginger was very prevalent and it was a nice refreshing drink. after tasting literally everything on the menu the gals and i went outside on their amazing patio and enjoyed the AMAZING 70 degree weather and patio. bonus: otto stayed sleeping while doug pushed him around the sidewalks. we spent a little over an hour at the winery just hanging out.
after bluestone we headed on to aurora cellars which was a complete departure from bluestone. the tasting room had a quaint old world feel to it that felt secret and special. it had a beautiful patio outside overlooking the grounds that we ended up at after our tasting. owyn was our guide at aurora and again, another vineyard, another education. we sat and chatted with her as we made our way through the tasting menu. we talked everything from sparkling whites to rose to cameras to dogs and back to reds. she was lovely and personable and was able to answer all our crazy questions. we all grabbed a glass and headed to the patio. i had a hard time deciding between the luminous (white) and the pinot noir but thought i should probably stick to reds. whites make me giddy. even more giddy than i already was. we had a snack and another glass on the patio while super doug continued to stroll the grounds with otto. it was so lovely to get to spend some girl time with my mother in law and sister in law. we don’t get to do that enough and it was so relaxing.
after aurora we were on the final stop of the day, L.Mawby. I know this place well as last visit joe and i became members of the bubbles club and have a dwindling stock of their sandpiper in our wine cabinet at home. we had the most epic tasting ever there and got to try everything on the list. i can’t even begin to tell you which are my favorites but my attempt is: sandpiper goes with everything from bellinis to mimosas to drinking it straight. Blanc de Blanc and Green are some of my top favorites as well. but you always have to order a glass of “sex” because I giggle like a 12 year old every time. all the wines here are sparkling and fantastic. we finished up our tasting here and by that time it was 5pm. that’s right. we were out and about for 5 hours. doug and otto did awesome the entire time and it was one of the best days that i’ve had in forever.
we made it back to the lodge to find the guys sitting in the family room on the big leather comfy couches recapping their golf game (which we will be hearing about for the next three yeas). by this time it was 6pm we decided it was time for dinner. we literally got up and walked 2 feet into bogeys 19th hole, the restaurant in the lodge. the food here is so so so so good. of course we got the brussel sprouts. and i’m not kidding (i said this back in may I wasn’t kidding then either) these are some of the best brussel sprouts you will ever have. we ordered our dinners (joe:mac and cheese, me: pork sandwich) and literally inhaled our dinner. about half way through we found out that the guys took a break in their golf to eat lunch here too and were secretly hoping we would come back for dinner lol. it was also super convenient that the restaurant is within a flight of stairs to your room because you know… sometimes babies just need a little time out and a pants change and it is way easier to quick run back to the room then find a bathroom. once again full , although i don’t think we were ever hungry on this trip from friday night to sunday night we got up from dinner and grabbed some sweatshirts and headed outside to the fire pit.
the lodge has a community fire pit right outside and down about a 5 foot path. it’s all cement so it’s like glamours camping. we popped open a bottle of the ad lib from earlier today and shared our stories and adventures from the day. filled with sun, food and more food we were all tuckered out around 10pm and called it a night.
the next morning we woke up and went to a little breakfast spot called trish’s dishes were we ate small. like english muffin small because we were still full from the night before and then walked around fish town for a bit. i had to grab the smoked fish pate from fish town . it is THE BEST. and we stopped in around the little shops to grab anything we might have left behind from the day before. this brought us to about 12 and the real world started calling again. we parted ways and joe and i said goodbye to our friends at the lodge but just until next time!
joe and i were not ready to get back home to the massive pile of laundry and overgrown yard so we decided to continue on. we grabbed lunch at the black star farms cafe (chili and a panini) and then headed back to bluestone before heading home. we met a few new friends on the patio there and spent the rest of the afternoon before finally calling it a weekend and heading home.
thank you so much to the lovely people in leelanau that welcomed us with open arms this weekend. we are home feeling refreshed and rejuvenated and will absolutely treasure the time and memories created in your place of business. we rarely get the opportunity to travel with extended family and this was the perfect place for us all to retreat. you all hold a special place in our heart and will always sing your praises.
A very special thank you to sarah for coordinating this trip for us. Mrs. Patti and the staff at the lodge, Jenn and Owyn from the wineries, super Doug our driver, Figs and Two Fish Gallery. THANK YOU.