Thinking about a wine-soaked vacation getaway this year? Good! If you want to stay local, Napa and Sonoma need your support! Of the almost 900 wineries in Napa and Sonoma counties, less than 20 suffered significant damage in the fires last October, and most of those have been repaired and reopened. The land is still beautiful, and now is a great time to visit.
That being said, if you’re looking for a wine destination in the U.S. that’s a bit off the beaten path and relaxed but still has amazing wines, here are my top 3 choices right now:
Walla Walla, Washington State
Washington State actually ranks second behind California in the production of premium wine in the United States. The eastern half of the state is where most of the wine production occurs, and this corner of the state actually gets one more hour of daylight per day than California.
With more than 140 wineries, Walla Walla should be at the top of any wine lover’s vacation destination list. Walla Walla itself is a charming little town, and if you’re a cyclist or golfer, make time to add these activities to your itinerary as well.
Walla Walla wineries are producing European-style Syrahs, Cabernets, and Merlots in the foothills of the Blue Mountains; you will not be disappointed in the incredible views of rolling vineyards. It’s still a small, young region, but it’s attracting veteran winemakers from Oregon, France, Switzerland, and beyond.
Don’t miss Long Shadows Vintners Winery, where you can soak up sweeping views and gorgeous glass art by Dale Chihuly.
Stay: The Inn at Abeja
Eat: Ox & Cart
Texas Hill Country
While you might not think of Texas as a wine destination, there are more than 55 wineries in the Texas Hill Country, and this gorgeous part of Texas has become the second most visited wine region in the U.S. behind Napa Valley! This region was named one of the 10 best wine travel destinations by Wine Enthusiast Magazine a few years back.
This area is a beautiful place to get lost on the back country roads, enjoy the old-fashioned country charm, and taste award-winning wines. Fredericksburg is the center of the action here; it’s historic and charming, has excellent shopping, restaurants, and you’ll find Wine Road 290. Wine Road 290 is your route for accessing 16 award-winning wineries in the Hill Country. Each winery has its own unique charm and ambiance, where you’ll likely taste Rhône style whites and white blends, Viogniers, Texas Tannats, and Temperanillos.
Finger Lakes, New York
The Finger Lakes region of New York has recently popped up on the radar of wine connoisseurs worldwide. In 2016, sommeliers ranked the Finger Lakes the top wine destination to visit in America on Thrillist, and Wine Enthusiast Magazine named it the 2015 “Wine Region of the Year” beating out Champagne, France; Chianti Classico, Italy; and the Sonoma Coast.
More than 100 wineries dot the panoramic hills around the lakes; the cooler climate here produces varietals like Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Riesling, and Vidal Blank. There are two popular wine trails to check – the Cayuga Wine Trail and the Seneca Wine Trail.
Many Finger Lakes wineries still sell primarily through their tasting rooms, so snap up those wines that you like, because you probably won’t find them in your local wine shop. That being said, the popularity of Finger Lakes wines has exploded recently, so look for more and more of the wines to make an appearance in stores.
Stay: Mirbeau Inn & Spa
Eat: GRAFT Wine + Cider Bar