Wine Country Is Closer Than You Think
Say the words “wine country” and beautiful images of vineyards, elegant tasting rooms and scenic views like those in Napa Valley probably spring to mind. While that’s plenty accurate – California was one of the first places in the U.S. to focus on wine tourism – these days, “wine country” describes not just one state in the U.S., but all of them.
There are literally thousands of wineries to visit in California (almost 3,000). But if you live elsewhere, vineyards could be closer than you realized. There are over 6,500 wineries in the United States, and at least one in every state (yep, even Alaska). With warmer weather just around the corner, now is a great time to start planning a nearby weekend wine country getaway.
A few words of advice as you plan your trip: Don’t try to visit every winery – pick three or four, and aim for two in the morning and then one or two after lunch. Make sure you have a designated driver or a safe way to get from one place to another, such as a bus, limo or special tour transportation. Also, while many wineries don’t require appointments, it’s always a good idea to call ahead and make sure that it will be open for visitors. And ask if there will be any special events.
Check below for tips on wine in your state.
Colorado’s high-altitude vineyards have attracted a lot of attention. There is an established Colorado Wine Trail to guide you on where to go, and many of the routes are bike-friendly.
The Illinois Wineries association has developed seven different wine trails that cover the four parts of the state. With tourist attractions near many of them, you can put together quite a weekend.
Michigan has been generating a lot of buzz for its sparkling wines, many of which can be tasted only locally. With a good number of wineries located close to Lake Michigan, options abound for a fun visit.
With seven different wine regions, there is a lot to discover in Missouri. And the Missouri Wine and Grape Board has even developed a mobile app to help you plan your trip.
Between Long Island and the Finger Lakes, you have much to choose from in New York. Many regions have well-designed wine trails, and the Finger Lakes in particular an excellent spot for a getaway.
North Carolina was one of the largest producers of wine before Prohibition. The industry has staged quite a comeback and now has more than 100 wineries. It is also home to the America’s most visited winery; the Biltmore Estate in Asheville.
There are six different trails to explore in Ohio, with each region offering its own perspective of Ohioan wine. You’ll also discover that Ohio has a long history of wine. In fact, Cincinnati was the birthplace of one of the first commercially successful wineries in the U.S.
With 120 plus wineries in seven different regions and 11 different wine trails to choose from, Pennsylvania has made it easy to plan a tasting excursion. Be sure to do some research beforehand, as each trail often hosts special events on the weekends.
The wine industry in Texas has enjoyed tremendous growth in the past decade, although you’d expect nothing less from a state with a city called Grapevine (which of course, you should consider visiting!). This state has eight viticultural regions to explore.
Recently named as one of the 10 best wine-travel destinations by Wine Enthusiast magazine for 2012, Virginia truly is for wine lovers. Between the state’s rich history and its 24 well-organized wine trails, there is almost too much to choose from.
If you’re planning a Wine Country trip in Oregon, Washington, California or New York, check out the Lot18 Wine Country Pass to guide you with VIP access through your winery visits.