Top 5 Incredible Wine Country Destinations
-The Grape Escape
For those of you, like me, who don’t live anywhere remotely close to “wine country”, the idea of visiting one of these amazing places seems like a Disney dream.
. WRolling vineyards for miles, wine tastings in secluded vineyard bars surrounded by oak barrels, and tours led by experts, visiting a “wine country” destination is one of the best vacations or escapes imaginable.
“But where do you go?” Hold on, I was getting to that part. I know you’re excited but geez! There are so many incredible vineyards and wine destinations worldwide, but here I’m going to just focus on the United States. I know, I know. You are thinking the Southeast right off the bat. Well, that’s probably not going to be on this list. I’m not saying Bubba’s Wine Barn behind the gas station on the corner doesn’t have good wine. I’m just saying it’s not going to be on this list.
So, enjoy. Here at Vastewine we are proud to give you our list of 5 incredible wine country destinations.
Oregon Wine Country
Yeah, I’m starting off big here. For the non-wine enthusiast, Oregon might not be on the radar. However, this beautiful destination boasts over 500 wineries in a 150 mile radius, producing some of the best wines on the planet. Here in the Willamette Valley, wine lovers can experience the full gamut of tastings and vineyards, while enjoying the rest of the time sightseeing, enjoying incredible food, and outdoor activities to keep you busy for a year.
The passion that the families who produce Oregon’s amazing wine is evident when taking a tour of their vineyards. Over 550 vineyards make up the Willamette Valley, ranging from some of the world’s best Pinot Noir to Pinot Gris, and everything in between. In the mood for a modern, high tech vineyard tour? Yeah, they got those. Or are you more in the mood for Old School wineries that smell like your trapped in an oak barrel? (ahhhh…I can smell it now.) Yeah, plenty of that to go around there too.
After visiting as many of these wineries as you can, make sure you enjoy the tasty foods of Oregon wine country! With livestock farms as far as you can see intertwined with the vineyards, some of the best chefs in the country will create masterpiece dining experiences that you won’t forget. There are also quite a few culinary tours available, so take advantage. Oh, and if you need a break from wine (it’s ok, we won’t yell at you), take in some of the hopping breweries (I promise I didn’t do that on purpose, but I didn’t delete it either) or cider companies. As you can see, a trip to Oregon wine country will leave your palate exploding with satisfaction.
Sonoma Wine Country
45 minutes north of San Francisco, CA, lies one of the top 5 wine country destinations in the world. Boasting over 425 wineries, Sonoma Wine Country will blow your palate to smithereens with its legendary array of wines. Add to that over 500 incredible eateries to choose from, including Michelin and Zagat rated restaurants. Make sure you check the calendar before you go, as there are festivals year round, including popular cheese and wine.
The vast array of wine choices in Sonoma may seem overwhelming at first, however they do an amazing job of mapping it out for you and offering specialty tours. Many of the wineries offer behind the scene tours, offering you the chance to see how the grapes are harvested, crushed, blended, and bottled. I know for myself, it always tastes better after I learn how they did it. That doesn’t make any sense, I know, but I’m sticking to it. They have plenty of tours including vans, limousines, busses, and other vehicles. Other wine experiences in Sonoma include Vineyard hikes, Wine caves, and much, much more.
Surrounded by the California Redwoods, Sonoma wine country also boasts an incredible arts culture. They have art tours intertwined with the wine and culinary tours to keep you busy. Not feeling artsy? Well how about some whale watching on the coast? Or hiking in the various national parks? Some of the best romantic excursions in the country are also found here, so what are you waiting for?! Plan a family trip or getaway for 2. Or just go by yourself and make some friends. Just go.
Napa Wine Country
Back to California we go, and just an hour north of San Francisco, again. Napa Valley is made up of 5 towns, with Napa being the largest. Here you will find over 400 award winning wineries, with their specialty being Cabernet Sauvignon. Surrounded by lavish resorts and bed and breakfasts, top rated chefs, and local farms, the wineries in Napa have a lot to offer its guests. Hot Air Balloon rides, wine and food tours, and valley excursions will keep you busy in between the numerous wine tastings.
Wine making starting in Napa in the 1860’s, so it’s safe to say that they know what they are doing when it comes to wine production. Each year, many of the Napa Valley vineyards are awarded top honors worldwide for their Cabernet Sauvignon production, so if that’s your favorite varietal then Napa is the place to be. I’m sure you’ve been in a wine store scouring the large selection of Cabernet, only to repeatedly see Napa Valley on the bottles. The combination of climate and just pure wine making knowledge make this a special destination for wine enthusiasts around the globe.
The wine tours here are abundant, and one in particular is very unique. The Napa Valley Wine Train offers an exciting 36 mile round trip journey through the valley. This train is not just for the wine, however. Your senses will be on overload as you sip wonderful wine, eat chef prepared food, and take in the breathtaking sites. Since the 1980’s, the Napa Valley Wine Train has treated enthusiasts with a variety of different excursions, ranging from gourmet meals to romantic rides. This is a “must do” if you are planning a trip to one of the world’s most famous wine destinations.
Finger Lakes Wine Country
I hear ya, so stop yelling. You want to get out of the West Coast do ya? Well, here you go. Finger Lakes wine country in New York is one of the most breathtaking areas and best wine producers in the United States. About 5 hours northwest of New York City, Finger Lakes will give you a different kind of wine experience than that in California and Oregon. Famous for its wine country weddings, wine trails, water adventures and food, this wine country will not disappoint.
With over 100 wineries, Finger Lakes boasts world class cool climate wines, in particular that of the Riesling varietal. Sloping vineyards that descend to deep, glaciated lakes give this region the perfect climate to grow vinifera wine grapes. Many unique wine adventures, such as making your own glass, wine weddings, wine trails along the 5 lakes, and festivals galore will keep you busy the entire stay. Surround that with delectable restaurants, arts and culture, parks and historical sights, and you might just find a new annual vacation spot for your family. Or, just you. Whatever suits your fancy.
A must do at Finger Lakes is the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail. This is the longest organized wine trail in America, starting in 1983. On this trail, you will taste wine that has won over 6,000 national and international awards, all while taking in the beauty of Cayuga Lake. Along the trail, stops will include wineries, cideries, distilleries, a meadery, and a taproom. Yeah, that should do it. Make your plans today to visit Finger Lakes and enjoy all the beauty and great wine you can handle!
Texas Hill Wine Country
Alright guys, back to California we go! Hahaha, just kidding. Fooled you didn’t I? Texas Hill Wine Country is in, well, Texas. To give you an idea where Texas Hill country is, think Austin and San Antonio, and everything around it. With over 50 unique wineries to choose from, Texas Hill gives you a wine experience like no other. The wineries each have interesting personalities and different styles of winemaking. Famous wine trails will keep you moving from winery to winery, experiencing all the fun and delicious wines that this region has to offer.
Separating itself from the pack, Texas Hill boasts pure joy and plain old fun. It’s a wine destination like no other, and they aim to keep it that way. 4 major wine trail events each year including all the wineries draw huge crowds, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. The wineries themselves host events year round, including food and wine pairings, live music weekly, grape stomps and tons of holiday events. All senses will be overloaded when visiting this wine country, that’s a fact.
So what kind of wine varietals are they known for, you ask? Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are the most planted, with Tannat, Touriga Nacional, and Chardonnay close behind. Try out Fredericksburg if you are in the mood for some tasty Cabernet or Chardonnay. My recommendation, however, is to hit the wine trails and try it all. Have fun along the way. That’s the point of wine tasting, right? To enjoy the entire experience. Texas Hill Wine Country has you covered, trust me.
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