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The United States is home to more wine regions than you might think, and yes that expands far beyond Sonoma. Ohio, Georgia, and North Carolina are some examples of lesser-known hot spots. But we’ve come up with an additional nine areas that we think are particularly indulgent and relaxing. Amongst each of these road trips, you’ll find not only specific specialty wines, but quaint places to stay, breathtaking drives, and great food. But all in all, it is all about the wine, and you’ll be surprised where one can find some of our Nation’s best.
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Virginia is home to hundreds of vineyards, many of which are compiled with a handful of wine trails. Chesapeake is historic with incredible waterside scenery, so may be one of our favorite trails to start with. Begin at Ingleside Vineyards, then trek to Vault Field, Rivah, and General’s Ridge Vineyards. Colonial Beach makes for a lovely stop to enjoy both scenery and significant sites, while Dockside Restaurant and Tiki Bar has that fun beach atmosphere with water views and highly praised crab cakes. Ingleside Vineyards offers eclectic lodging via precious cottages, so making the 15-minute drive back from the beach could be a good option. Head southeast to The Dog and Oyster for more wine adventures! Nearby is Ditchley Cider Works and Farm, and Good Luck Cellars is known for its sangria Sundays. Jacey Vineyards warrants more than a few hours, then whip back up and over to Caret Cellars to round out the trip.
Colorado’s wine country in Grand Junction is best explored via bike, so consider it a road trip on a smaller scale while traversing the Fruit and Wine Byway which hugs the Colorado River. Different byway loops can vary in time, anywhere from two hours to a full day. The routes are all loaded with wine tasting opportunities from more rustic barn-style establishments, to locations set amongst an abundance of vines. Don’t miss out on tasting a fresh juicy peach or apricot at one of the fruit stands along the way.
Idaho wine country stretches much of the state, up to the dramatic mountains of the north, down to the more desert-esque portions. Fly into Boise and stop by trendy spots on the river, such as Telaya. Stay a night and try out the artisan homemade ice-cream prosecco floats at The STIL, while grabbing some vegan berry glazed treats at Guru Donuts in the morning. Forge north to the oldest winery in the state, Camas Prairie, for a must-try varietal made with huckleberry. The northern region has much to offer with establishments like Coeur d’Alene Cellars, a family-owned business.
New York is peppered with both official, and unofficial, wine regions like the Hudson River, Long Island, Finger Lakes, Lake Erie, and Champlain Valley areas. Start at Arrowhead Spring Vineyards in the Niagara Escarpment, then try both Concord grape juice and European wine in Lake Erie, followed by Reisling in Finger Lakes and Cabernet Franc in Hudson Valley. Alternatively, opt for Bordeaux at wineries right outside of New York, finally winding down at Amazing Grace Vineyard and Winery in Champlain.
Texas is full of local wineries you should add to your bucket list. Time here should be spent in both the Texas High Plains and the more central Hill Country when on an ultimate tasting road trip to the Lone Star State. Lubbock has a handful of lovely tasting rooms like McPherson Cellars and CapRock Winery to enjoy the well-balanced varietals delivered by optimal elevation and arid climate. Most of the region’s grapes are shipped elsewhere. Cabernet and Malbec are seamlessly produced from grapes grown in Hill Country, amongst cute towns and a warm humid climate. The two regions are just under five hours apart.
Washington has an impressive 14 officially recognized AVA wine regions—one to the west of the Cascades Mountain Range and the following 13 to the right. The western region is amongst Seattle—so travelers can use the city as a cool home base with iconic sites and the beloved Pike Place Fish Market. A two-hour and 20-minute drive will take you to one of the closer cities in Columbia Valley, which envelopes most of the other Washington AVAs. Consider staying just outside the region in Bavarian-themed Leavenworth, which is something out of a storybook—even more literally if staying at the Storybook Riverside Inn.
Michigan has five relatively small but scenic regions. Fennville and Lake Michigan AVAs are tucked close in the south, while Top of the Mitt, Old Mission and Leelanau Peninsulas are around four hours away. Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail weaves through 21 locations along a scenic waterside drive. Hickory Creek Winery specializes in European wines made with local grapes while Lemon Creek nails both reds and whites, and Baroda Founders makes delicious chocolate-infused dessert wines. Lastly, St. Julian Winery in Paw Paw is one of the best wineries in the Midwest.
Arizona might seem a bit unexpected, but the climate is solid for developing wine. Three regions exist, one more north, two in the southeast. Northern Verde Valley is more developed in its winemaking. Folks love Arizona wine country because it’s more relaxed and less about being an aficionado. While the makers know their stuff, many amateur visitors can just sit back and enjoy the experience a little better. The Grand Canyon and a wealth of other iconic sites aren’t far away—this trip could serve many bucket list purposes.
The Willamette Valley is a gem within the state of Oregon, proudly offering 700 wineries that still pay attention to every little detail in growing practices. Without stopping, much of the stretch could be driven in two hours—but plan to spend a handful of days tasting wine and eating locally crafted foods that accompany perfectly. Explore wine trails via horseback, relax in the small-town atmosphere or take to hiking and discover waterfall wonders and serene ambiance.