In two days, the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City gets underway–a weeklong celebration of the juicy red fruit that includes all the activities you’d expect from a super fun and family-friendly summer festival, from parades, pie-eating contests and arts and air shows, to live music, carnival rides and loads of delicious eating. (Cherry-themed food and items galore, too, of course.)

Most importantly? We can run for cherries! 

The Festival of Races feature distances for everyone–a half marathon that starts on Old Mission Peninsula at Chateau Grand Traverse, as well as an awesome 10K, a 15K that’s known for its “Mt. McKinley” climb midway through, and a great 5K run/walk. Over the years, our family has run each of these distances with the exception of the half (this remains on my list of races to run…), and it’s always such a fun morning. It can be on the warm side–it is July, after all–but there’s just something about getting up early on the final day of festival week, toeing the start line on the peninsula, and heading through the heart of downtown to the finish, where fresh cherries await.

/Photography by John L. Russell


MRG is again partnering with the Festival of Races, and this year, along with a race discount that’s good for any of the distances, we’ve got an amazing giveaway just for MRG readers and listeners: a VIP Tour and Tasting for up to 8 people–a $200 value–at Chateau Grand Traverse, which is where the half marathon starts. This tour and tasting includes a personal vineyard/winery tour and VIP tasting. {Details on entering to win this giveaway at the end of this post}

Chateau Grand Traverse has been producing the Cherry Festival’s signature wine for more than 20 years. The winery became the sponsor of the half marathon when race organizers added the distance a few years ago.

“Having the Cherry Festival half marathon race start at Chateau Grand Traverse and continue through the vineyards and cherry orchards is a really special experience that ties in nicely with the festival as a whole,” says Megan Molloy, marketing coordinator for Chateau Grand Traverse. “While the Cherry Festival is certainly about having a great time here in Traverse City, it’s also about celebrating and bringing awareness to the agriculture in the area. Running down Old Mission Peninsula through grape vines and cherry trees is a really unique way to see how prominent and important agriculture truly is in this area and in Michigan as a whole.”

Some interesting cherry facts and history on how Traverse City became the Cherry Capital of the World, according to festival organizers:

  • A Presbyterian missionary–Peter Dougherty– planted cherry trees on Old Mission Peninsula in the mid 1800s, and they flourished (much to the surprise of other farmers). Soon other residents of the area planted trees. The area proved to be ideal for growing cherries because Lake Michigan tempers Arctic winds in winter and cools the orchards in summer.
  • The first commercial tart cherry orchards in Michigan were planted in 1893 on Ridgewood Farm near the site of Dougherty’s original plantings. By the early 1900s, the tart cherry industry was firmly established in the state with orchards not only in the Traverse City area, but all along Lake Michigan from Benton Harbor to Elk Rapids. Soon production surpassed other major crops. The first cherry processing facility, Traverse City Canning Company, was built just south of Traverse City, and the ruby-red fruit was soon shipped to Chicago, Detroit and Milwaukee.
  • Today, the U. S. cherry industry produces more than 650 million pounds of tart and sweet cherries each year. Much of the cherry production is concentrated in Michigan and the Northwest. Michigan grows about 75 percent of the tart cherry crop. Oregon and Washington harvest about 60 percent of the sweet cherry crop. Other states with commercial cherry crops are Utah, Wisconsin, New York, Pennsylvania and California.

Contest details!

1.) Leave a comment below sharing why you’d like to win this tour and tasting package (and who you’d have join you). And if you are planning to run one of the Festival of Races events, please also share which one. (If you haven’t yet signed on, there’s still time! And you can save on your race entry…code below!)

2.) The giveaway starts today, June 27, and ends Monday, July 2.

3.) One winner will be announced here on the blog by Tuesday, July 3.

Good luck!

Ready to sign up for the Festival of Races?

Register here » 

Use the code MiRun4Cherries2018 to receive $5 off your race entry.


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53 Responses to “{Runner-Wine Lover Giveaway!} VIP Tour and Tasting at Chateau Grand Traverse”

  1. Tonya Kimber

    I would love to win the wine tasting! I would take my BRF’s because we would all want to run the beautiful area while we are there. AND July is my birthday month! New AG’s are the best ?. I’m not running Cherry Fest races this year, but have run the 1/2 in the past!

  2. Alicia

    How fun to see behind the scenes at such a beautiful winery! We love exploring our city and this would be a great way to do it! I would take my hubby and a group of friends!

  3. This giveaway sounds so fun! I love Traverse City and exploring the wineries but it would be awesome to have an opportunity to learn more about Chateau Grand Traverse with my girlfriends!

  4. Chris Roggen

    I’d give it to my wife to take her friends and my mom. I’m not a wine drinker so I’d stay home to watch the kids. I’m running the half, which is an awesome run. My wife is now starting to be a runner and has ran a few half marathon this year already but had to work this weekend unfortunately. I’ve run every distance at this race and the only one I really don’t want to do again is the 15k with Mt. McKinley. Brutal Hill when I did it pushing a double stroller.

  5. Sarah G Brincks

    I’d love to take my college roommates. We lived in a suite of 8, and it has been YEARS since we’ve all been together (possibly 10 or more!). They are who I’d want to spend that time with.

  6. Tracey

    What better way to explore this beautiful area than with a wine tasting with beautiful friends! This would be an awesome girls trip for one of my best friend’s Bachelorette Party!!! I am running the 15K and I’m so excited!!

  7. Meghan Collar

    This would be a great opportunity for my college roommates and I to have a reunion! The 7 of us all live throughout Michigan and normally only see each other once a year or so since we all graduated a few years ago. We all have such a great time together and I know we would have a blast enjoying Northern Michigan! I will be running the half marathon this year and cannot wait to enjoy this beautiful course and one of my all time favorite races!

  8. Tara Salas

    Would love to win the win tour! So beautiful up north, never disappoints! I’d bring my husband and some of our couple friends for a perfect parents getaway. I used your run code to sign up for the Holland Haven Marathon so I’m in the training season for that race, no Cherry Festival races for me.

  9. jennifer martin

    I love wine and learning to love running, I would bring a friend who is new to both. I love old mission penisula and traverse city. haven’t stayed there yet this year, but, it is on my list!!

  10. Jen Landers

    I would love to take some of my running buddies! We live downstate and would love the opportunity to run in such a picturesque area and then enjoy a wine tasting as a “reward” for our efforts!

  11. Rebecca

    I would like to win because this will be my first half marathon ever. I have been training over a year and have lost 100lbs. This event means a lot to me because my family will be there to cheer me on. I would love to take them with me if I win to show them how much I appreciate their support in this first time adventure.

  12. Rebecca Howard

    I would like to win this because this will be my first half marathon. I have worked hard this past year training and losing 100lbs. If I won I would bring my family who came and supported me at the race and who were there for all of this years struggles and achievements.

  13. Kimberly Shumar

    After training for the last seven months(Gazelle girl half, Bayshore half and now Cherry Fest 15k) I would love to spend the day with friends and family enjoying a local winery! Can’t wait for a little relaxation ?

  14. Christi Conran

    I would bring my family as we will be up that way for the 4th. And, I love wine…are there people who don’t??
    I am not running those races this year…but maybe I should!!!

  15. Aubrey Honeycutt

    I just love your enthusiasm about our area and its history. Your posts are always so inspiring and make me want to get out and enjoy where we live!! I would love to win the Wine Tour giveaway and take my Husband, Mom, and Mother in Law as they helped me SO much this past winter/spring during my training for my first Marathon ❤

    I won’t be running the Festival of Races this year, but REALLY hoping to get my little to run the Kids Fun Run with Des Linden!! I was fortunate enough to meet her at your Runner Girl Getaway in May and LOVE the fact that she is volunteering with the kids race ?

    Thank you this opportunity to enter! Have an awesome Cherry Fest and 4th of July weekend!

    • Tamela Rubin

      I LOvE to run and also like to drink wine!?I would share is experience with my little sister who’s a runner and some of my other favorite running buddies!

  16. Chelsea Mates

    I would LOVE this to have a fun excuse to meet up with my craziest running girls in TC! I did Bayshore and didn’t even know there was another option of a race the week of Cherry Festival. Great to know! Happy running!

  17. I would loooooovvvve to win the wine tour and I would definitely bring my boyfriend because he’s NEVER been to TC – can you believe that??? I need to show him some big TC love and I can’t think of a better way! :)

  18. Melissa

    I would love to take some friends and or cousins up to Traverse City area to enjoy a beautiful wine tour. One friend of mine is running the 5k, her husband a longer distance but I am taking the summer off of longer races.

  19. Bonnie

    Traverse City is our second home. We love running around Boardman Lake, on the Tart Trail and along East Bay. We are currently working on 12 marathons in 12 months and have 9 completed so far! We love hearing about all the places you run and you and your family have been such an inspiration. A wine tasting for 8 would be the icing on the cake! My husband doesn’t drink wine, but I have 7 ladies from my hometown of Lewiston who would be thrilled at the opportunity. Thanks for all you do to encourage and support the running community in Michigan. .

  20. Julie Modjeski

    A wine tour! AWESOME! As a child my family vacation was the cherry festival in TC. I remember watching the runners come down front Street and telling my parents I’m going to do that some day. Last year at 52 I ran the half marathon and beamed in self-satisfaction while iraced down front Street to finish! What a beautiful course running through the vineyard…beautiful scenery… I’ll be running a shorter distance this year having registered for the 15k. A winery tour with my sisters and friends would complement an awesome day and race finish! Thank you!

  21. Nichole Thompson

    I would love to re-connect with my friends that have scattered around the state and country and invite them all to Traverse City for a wine tasting weekend! I will see you all Saturday morning – I’m running the 15K for the first time!

  22. Angela Serna

    We LOVE! the National Cherry Festival! And I especially love all the vineyards in TC and surrounds area. Would love to have a girls day and bring my favorite running girlfriends on this wine tasting if I was selected. We have such a diverse groups but we all love wine! I have yet to do a Cherry Festival race but it is on my bucket list!

  23. Michele Paulic

    Omg ! I would love to win I wound take my group of Running girls . We run on the weekend together . Nothing like a great run with the Conversation… we are all of course running the the cherry festival

  24. Brenda Campbell

    I grew up in Central Lake, but now live in Southern Michigan. I love visiting up north and would love the opportunity to tour a winery. I would share the visit with family. Haven’t been cleared to run this season due to kidney stone issues, but would love to do the 10K next year.

  25. Leah Horvath

    I’ve actually never been to Traverse City but I’ve always wanted to go! Wine, is, well, one of my favorite beverages and I would bring my husband and two of our couple friends. We’d have a blast taking in the sights and enjoying Grand Traverse! I don’t get to run in the Festival of Races this year, but a trip up to Grand Traverse would make for some good scouting of next year’s plans!

  26. Katie Boyce

    Wine tasting and running with my best friend, Emily Woodcock are my ultimate favorite things to do and I don’t get many opportunities to do so. We are running the vineyard to bay 15k together and regardless of winning this contest we plan to do some wine tasting after the race!

  27. Tonia L Denslow

    I would love to win the wine tasting tour. Traverse City is one of our favorite locations and was the first trip we took when we started dating. We always stop at Chateau Grand Traverse when we are there but have never had an official tour. What a wonderful opportunity. Besides my boyfriend, I would bring my BFF and her husband because they have a love of wine like no other. I’m not running any of the Cherry Festival events this year.

  28. Audrey Stempky

    Have grown up on the west side along the shores of Lake Michigan my whole life and love nothing better than the Cherry orchards! I am signed up for the Half Marathon again – one of my favorite summertime races! The plan is to spend the day post-race touring the wineries and picking cherries! I’ve never been, even though I live in Petoskey. I would love to win this giveaway because 1- I LOVE WINE. and 2 – I would love to bring my biggest supporters with me on this Wine Tour. My husband and closest friends are always there to congratulate me on my weekend races and support me through the ups and downs of constant training. They deserve it!

  29. Anne Perala

    I’d love Traverse City and haven’t had a chance the past couple years to enjoy a summer trip to visit. Add running and wine to the mix and this opportunity would make my summer complete. :) I have a fantastic crew of runner friends that would jump at a chance for a girls’ running getaway and wine!

  30. Megan

    Traverse City is such a beautiful place (and the wine certainly doesn’t hurt ;). I would love to take my girlfriends for a girls weekend! Most of us have had babies within the last year and could use a little mom’s weekend away!

  31. Carilyn Booker

    I miss Michigan! I miss Michigan wine! If I win, my husband and my other former Michiganers who now live in NC near me will be indulging in pure Michigan!!!!

  32. Carilyn Booker

    I miss Michigan! I miss Michigan wine! If I win, my husband and my other fellow ex-Michigan residens who now live in NC will be traveling back to Michigan for wine, running and enjoying pure Michigan!!!!

  33. Emily Woodcock

    I would love to win the getaway! I love Traverse and especially running in Traverse and I’ve never done the cherry festival. I would take my best running friend Katie Simcock. I was just her matron of honor and it would be amazing to have this trip with her!

  34. Kathy

    I can’t think of anything more awesome but to spend time in northern Michigan at a wine tasting with friends. Spent many childhood years in the area and have always enjoyed the beauty.

  35. Jennifer Osterman

    There are three reasons I would love to win this tour:
    1) I love cherries – I spent a good part of my college career in cherry orchards, testing pesticide alternatives (and eating cherries)
    2) I love wine! It’s been a number of years since I have gone on a Michigan wine tour, and I would love to do it!
    3) I love to run! (But who here doesn’t?)

  36. Karessa Wheeler

    This is wonderful! Thank you, Heather, for putting this together. I would bring my running girlfriends from the East Lansing area who love running and wine and Traverse City. A few of them are going through rough times and this would really cheer them up. Best, Karessa

  37. Sarah Earnest

    I love Traverse City, Wine and all things running! What a wonderful opportunity to be able to do all three. Unsure about the festival races, however, I’d love to plan a family vacation around the race and festival next year! I would either bring my running tribe and Ragnar teammates (TrueGRIT) or my husband, friends and their spouses for the tour. We all love wine, especially TC wineries! Thank you for the chance to win!

  38. Elizabeth

    I would love to win this tour. My sister and i were juat talking about how we grew up in TC but have never done a wine tasting tour. It would be awesome to win and bring my sisters and 5 of our childhood friends. We woulf have a blast wine tasting in our hometown and giggling over childhood stories!

  39. Lauren Rowe

    Would love to win the giveaway. My husband and I were married in Old Mission 10 years ago at my grandparents church. I have been coming to TC since I was 3 months old- it seems like my second home. My hubs and I run the bay shore every year, and our kids now run the Kids Run at the Cherry Festival. This year we cannot make the Festival of Races on Saturday but have run the 10k and 5k in the past.

  40. Verena House

    My best gal pal lives in TC and we are running with friends in the Cherry Fest half 10k, and 5k for charity. We would love to gather with our running, wine loving peeps for a relaxing afternoon at the winery!!

  41. Michele Tinsey

    Traverse city has been my summer getaway spot for 7 years now and it keeps getting better. My favorite is cherry festival and exploring the wineries. I try a new destination along with my favorite chateau Chantel.

  42. Kim Kordecki

    Wine tasting and running with my friend Emma! What could be more fun than to continue our wine tour from earlier this year! Can’t make the other races. Hoping for next year.

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