If you’ve been to Thunder Bay Winery in downtown Alpena or the downtown Petoskey location, you’ve probably noticed their bottles of wine named “Starlite Beach”, “Devils River”, or “Long Lake” and wondered what inspires these names.

Alpena and the surrounding areas are the answer to the inspiration! Let’s take a look at a few of these aptly named reds, whites, and rosés.

Sugar Island

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Sugar Island is a light, fruity, and sweet white wine named after Sugar Island, just SE of Alpena. This island is part of the Michigan Islands National Wildlife Refuge, which also includes Thunder Bay and Scarecrow Islands. Once the home of the first settlers in Alpena County, the fishermen plied the waters of Thunder Bay and Misery Bay. Thanks to the efforts of The Nature Conservancy the Island is now protected and owned by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Starlite Beach

Named after Alpena’s largest beach, this refreshing semi-sweet wine is perfect for a picnic or anytime. At Starlite Beach, you’ll find a splash pad for children, a jungle gym, public restrooms and changing rooms, and plenty of sandy beach for you and your family to enjoy. This beach is also a hotspot for 4th of July activities and the perfect viewing area for holiday fireworks.

Long Lake

Long Lake is a new wine that is light-bodied, semi-dry red, and aged on stainless steel. Like Alpena’s Long Lake, this wine can be enjoyed any time of the year.

Rockport Red

Long Lake and Grand Lake wines

Rockport Red is a bold and complex blend of carefully selected grapes, aged to perfection on French Oak. As you’ve probably guessed, this red is named after Michigan’s 100th State Park and our very own Dark Sky Preserve (one of three in the area) Rockport State Recreation Area. Where you can view the night sky like no other place so close to the city, hike the trails to numerous sinkholes, and hunt for 400 million-year-old Devonian period fossils.


Grand Lake 

Unlike its sister, Long Lake, Grand Lake is full-bodied, rich dry red, with notes of cherries & plums. Similarly to Long Lake, Grand Lake is also best enjoyed with friends and family!

Devils River

This award-winning wine is sweet, refreshing, and filled with intense flavors and the aroma of freshly picked concord grapes. Best served chilled. Named after Devils River just south of Alpena in Ossineke, this 2.4-mile-long river is great for fishing and offers a paved small craft launch suitable for kayaks.

Nicholson Hill

Another wine giving credit to the Ossineke area is Nicholson Hill, a fruit wine blend that features fruit grown at the owner’s home on Nicholson Hill in Ossineke.

Harbor of Alpena

Warm up with a red!

Ode to the Harbor of Alpena, a wine aged in barrels formerly used to make whiskey. The aging imparted a greater depth and complexity to this rich and robust port-style wine. A suited pairing for our own Harbor of Alpena!

45th Parallel Rosé

Alpena is situated right on the 45th parallel, halfway between the equator and the north pole, so it makes perfect sense to name a wine after this fun fact! This dry, well-structured rosé displays a deep pink color.  A refreshing crisp and slightly spicy acidic finish tingles the palate. Notes of rhubarb and citrus make this an exceptional summer wine. Pairs well with melon and prosciutto, seafood, and grilled chicken.

Lighthouse Wine

With 7 lighthouses in the Alpena area, it also makes perfect sense to have Lighthouse Wine! This is a sweet, sparkling wine that would pair perfectly with celebrating the upcoming holidays.


Clatter, the vineyard golden retriever

A special mention goes out to Clatter, named after the owner’s vineyard golden retriever. A dry white, this crisp wine displays bright citrus notes and is best served chilled. Clatter guarded Thunder Bay Vineyards from 2013 until 2021 after a short battle with cancer. Her greatest joy was to be around people and loved seeing everyone pass through the vineyard, the winery, and Regalo Luxury Gifts (also located in downtown Alpena). This one is for you, Clatter!

To see the complete list of wines at Thunder Bay Winery, check out their website – https://www.thunderbaywinery.com/ or stop in at their location in downtown Alpena!

Tell us, which is your favorite?