Wine Makes a Trip So Fine
Though Europe may be far more famous for its wine regions, the United States has a surprisingly large number of wonderful wine destinations. As people continue to find socially-distant ways to have a vacation, vineyard visits may be a great option. Bring your mask and a designated driver, and enjoy these wine regions across the U.S.
Napa Valley is perhaps the United States’ most famous wine region. The hilly region and the volcanic soils have put Napa on the world map for its Cabernet Sauvignon. The Napa Valley Wine Train has always been a big draw, but it’s remaining closed until the end of August. Instead, opt to visit the gorgeous vineyards of the valley in person, focusing on wineries in small towns that surround Napa like St. Helena, Yountville and Oakville.
Big wine regions are great, but take the opportunity to check out some smaller ones too. You may have never heard of Sonoita and Elgin, but these Southern Arizona villages have great wineries such as Charron Vineyards, Arizona Hops and Vines and Callaghan Vineyards. Before driving onto Phoenix, spend the night at Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort where Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn once stayed.
Hill Country, Texas
The area around Fredericksburg, Texas, is a big hot spot for wineries. It’s called the Hill Country, and it’s home to about 50 wineries. Vineyards cover the hills from Austin to Fredericksburg and Lampasas to New Braunfels, so you have a lot to choose from. You’ll find a variety of wines, great views of Texas’ rolling hills and a laid-back atmosphere that welcomes all.
Newport, Rhode Island
On a New England getaway, enjoy some of Newport’s best wineries like Newport Vineyards, on 60 acres of historically preserved farmland. Greenvale Vineyards is another beloved vineyard along the scenic Sakonnet River. For those who love wines that remind you of France, visit Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyard to taste a variety of 19 wines. Top off your trip with a stay at Hotel Viking, a 1926-hotel with great views of Bellevue Avenue from their rooftop bar.
This Northern California wine destination is almost as famous as Napa, though it tends to have a more relaxed atmosphere than the former. Sonoma has a variety of wine regions within the county like the Russian River Valley, Dry Creek and Alexander Valley. Stay in Healdsburg, a small town that sits at the intersection of some of these valleys, to explore the best that Sonoma Wine Country has to offer, like Ramey Wine Cellars and Longboard Vineyards.
Snake River Valley, Idaho
Idaho’s Snake River Valley is a must-stop for any viticulture enthusiast. Located right next to Oregon’s Columbia River, Snake River Valley has a micro-climate that makes for great wine, especially Riesling, Syrah and Tempranillo. You’ll find most of the wineries in the western part of the valley, but if you want something off-the-beaten-path, turn east. With 60 wineries in the area and a history that dates as far back as the 1860s, you can trust you’ll find great wine here.
Dahlonega is the epicenter of North Georgia wine country. The small historic town charm is enough of a reason to visit, but the five wineries and 12 wine tasting rooms will entice you to stay for a week. Places like Frogtown Cellars, Cavendar Creek Vineyards and Kaya Vineyard & Winery serve up the best in red, white and pink wines. Don’t forget to visit Etowah Meadery to taste honey wine.
East Central Illinois
Illinois has seven wine trails to choose from, but we think you’ll enjoy the East Central Illinois Wine Trail. It goes through small charming towns and outdoor areas that offer great hiking and biking trails. What we like best about this trail is that you’ll be able to talk to the vineyard owners, see the gorgeous Illinois countryside and enjoy some delicious wines you didn’t know existed.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Albuquerque, New Mexico, is serving up more than just UFOs, hot air balloons and great hiking; it’s also a boutique wine region. The Spaniards brought wine to the high altitude region, and New Mexicans have kept it going with great wineries like Casa Rodena, Sheehan Winery and Vara Wines.
Columbia Valley, Washington
Surprising enough, the Columbia Valley in Washington is a larger wine region than Napa Valley. Here you’ll discover aromatic wines, many of which are bold and fruit-forward. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot lovers will be especially fond of the wines in this region. The Columbia Valley is so large that you’ll want to focus on one of the smaller regions like the area around Zillah or Horse Heaven Hills, home to Columbia Crest.
Willamette Valley, Oregon
This 150-mile-long valley in Oregon is a must-visit for wine lovers. With 600 wineries, it’s a premier spot to taste and enjoy some of the world’s best Pinot Noirs. Take a winery road trip through the Willamette Valley, spending the night in charming inns and B&Bs along the way.
Finger Lakes region, New York
Forego the big city vacation and opt for a Finger Lakes wine trip. From Keuka to Seneca and Cayuga Lakes, travelers will discover 100 wineries, the likes of which are known for their Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir wines. The Finger Lakes region is a very picturesque area so expect wineries with lovely outdoor spaces.
Walla Walla, Washington
Walla Walla Valley sits in northeastern Washington and is a prime wine destination. Long known as an agricultural hub, Walla Walla has been in the wine-making industry for decades, and it has resulted in over 120 wineries. The Westside has some of the most established wineries in the region, but the Southside is home to most of the vineyards. Book stays at small cottages and inns in the region to get to know the locals and their favorite wineries.
Want to spend a full day exploring wineries or stay overnight at a vineyard? You’ll find all that and more among the wineries near Charlottesville, Virginia. Set next to the Blue Ridge Mountains, these wineries are visually appealing. Follow the Monticello Wine Trail to see everything this wine valley has to offer.
Lake Michigan Shore region
Michigan has not one — but five! — wine regions, and the Lake Michigan Shore region is among the best. On this wine-exploration, you’ll discover vineyards with great views, charming farms and 21 wineries with phenomenal old world grapes like Riesling, Merlot and Pinot Noir. Michigan is also home to Ice wine, a rare wine with a honey-like flavor.
German immigrants established the Missouri Rhineland as a wine destination in the 1860s. Discover some great wineries off highway 94 in cities and towns like Augusta, Marthasville, Warrenton, Hermann and New Haven. Between wine tastings at the various vineyards, make plenty of stops to explore the Missouri Rhineland’s German towns and traditions that are still present today.
North Fork, Long Island
Long Island is not nationally-known as a wine destination, but that’s exactly what it is. Primarily centered around the North Fork area, you’ll find a variety of scenic vineyards with great wines. Palmer Vineyards was one of the first wineries in the region, making it a must-visit, but don’t overlook others like Pindar Vineyards along with Kontokosta Winery for its great ocean views.
Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan
Leelanau Peninsula is a unique geographical area that extends 30 miles into Lake Michigan and happens to be the ultimate come-as-you-are wine region. Home to 27 wineries, Leelanau is split into three different wine trails so you can explore a new one each day. Some vineyards have great views of the lake, others are laid-back, but all guarantee great wine.
Paso Robles, California
Paso Robles is the hidden gem of wine regions in California. Top wineries like DAOU Family Estates and Eberle Winery are much loved in this wine region. It produces mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, but you’ll definitely want to try a Paso Robles Zinfandel. With 40,000 acres of vineyards, you’ll have a great wine-filled weekend getaway.
Verde Valley, Arizona
Yes, Northern Arizona has great hiking and arts and cultural experiences, but it’s also a beloved wine destination. Known as the Verde Valley Wine Trail, there are 10 winery stops along the way. Stay near the trail by booking your stays in the nearby small towns like Cottonwood, Jerome, Clarkdale or Sedona.
Lake Erie Wine Country
Charming is the best way to describe the 23 wineries in this region. Vineyards and wineries are nestled along the shoreline of Lake Erie, so you can expect some lovely views. Enjoy a wine adventure in this area over a few days so you can truly experience all the wines of the region.
Piedmont-Triad, North Carolina
North Carolina isn’t a huge producer of wine in the U.S., but it has a surprising number of wonderful wineries in the Piedmont-Triad region. Set in valleys and in the shadows of mountains, wine lovers will enjoy a relaxing wine experience that only North Carolina can provide. Stop at Autumn Creek Vineyards and Brandon Hills Vineyard; you won’t regret it.
Colorado may be better known for outdoor adventure, but it does a pretty good job with wineries too. Head to Palisade, home to most of the state’s wineries. Rent a bike and explore over 25 wineries in the area. Stay at Wine Country Inn for an all-around experience.
Ohio River Valley Wine Trail
Say yes to exploring the wines of the Ohio River Valley. The area has been producing wine since the early 1800s (and was once the best-known wine region in the U.S.), so you can expect some great sip and swirl experiences. Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon dominate the region, but you can also find some ice wines on the Ohio River Valley Trail (sometimes called the Longworth Heritage Wine Trail).
Central Vermont offers a bit of everything for a wine lover — from reds to whites and even ice wine. Montpelier Vineyards is the most well-known winery of the region, but don’t overlook those smaller vineyards that have great character and a laid-back atmosphere.
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