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Got wine? For decades, California was king of award-winning vino, holding court as the US premier winemaking region. Its beloved Napa and Sonoma valleys created one award-winning wine after another, becoming worthy competitors to legendary European crafted wines. Today viticultural regions, from Oregon to Texas, are crushing it with high quality varietals. If nothing makes you happier than savoring a sip of vino, slip a vineyard into your vacation itinerary this year. You’ll find one near almost any destination you choose.
Headed to the Empire State? With more than 100 wineries, New York’s Finger Lakes region, may be the state’s most understated secret and can be justly proud of its white wines, flourishing wine trails, scenic landscapes, and famous gorges. Plan on tasting the region’s powerhouse darlings of sommeliers, its signature Riesling and Gewürztraminer. With its gorgeous beaches and savvy vibe, the state’s famed Hamptons in Long Island is not only a perfect getaway but a worthy wine competitor. Travel out to its southern fork and chill with some exquisitely complex ice wines for a refreshing change of pace.
When your compass is set to the West Coast, begin in burgeoning Walla Walla wine country tucked within the Cascade Mountains. From its rivers, mountains and trails to shopping, museums, bird watching and culture, Walla Walla Valley is also a little known pioneer in the Washington wine scene. Its long growing season and fertile soil makes the area a mecca for vintners. Most of the region’s 60 wineries specialize in jewel red, award-winning Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Malbecs. Dip south to the neighboring state of Oregon into Willamette Valley wine region, nestled in the same cool weather latitude as the French Bordeaux region. This viticultural gem, one of the best in the nation, woos Pinot Noir oenophiles who fall in love with this elegant Oregon elegant varietal. Willamette’s softly rolling hills, an easy day trip from bustling Portland, is home to 550 local wineries. But, like its French counterpart, Willamette Valley is also a destination in itself, more than worth the bucolic drive through the Columbia River Valley for a visit.
Almost a polar opposite to laid back Willamette Valley, is Texas Hill Country, the second largest AVA in the nation. A haven for heat-craving varietals, this Lone Star State wine country spans 9 million acres from Austin to San Antonio. Taste Merlots and Zinfandels, fruits of the region’s simmering heat, as well as the Texas Hill Country Cabernet Sauvignon, its taste big and bold as Texas itself. Wine aficionados are quickly discovering why Texas is known not only for its barbeque prowess but also as the fifth largest wine-producing area in the US.
If Michigan is your vacation of choice, don’t miss the “Napa of the Midwest”. Lying within the Lake Michigan Shore region, the “lake effect” climate boosts the region’s talent for producing excellent varietals. World class wines are born in an area that’s halfway between the North Pole and the Equator, exactly like its French and Italian counterparts. Visits to vineyards can reap a luxury inn, farm to table cafes and what else – wine bars. Wherever you roam this year, plan to wine a little at some of our country’s most savory wine regions.
These articles present general information and are for informational purposes only. They are not a substitute for legal, financial, medical, or other professional advice.