I get a little California-centric when it comes to wines, mostly because they’re delicious and secondly because I live here. However, I’ve been learning a lot about other wine locales in the United States that are getting my continental travel bug rattled up.
Here’s my top 5 to-visit list for out-of-state wine regions:
1) Finger Lakes, NY
It’s Harvest season right now in the Finger Lakes, which is home to about 100 wineries, a third of the state of New York’s total. From all the Instagram photos and news stories I’ve seen about it, the Finger Lakes region seems pretty tantalizing, especially from a place that can put both Pinot Noir and Gewurtztraminer (I still can not pronounce the latter for the life of me) in my glass in one visit. And, I want to see those views in person and explore the many hiking trails. A camping trip with a few wineries squeezed in would be awesome if that’s a possibility.
I’m torn because I want to visit the rockies during the winter to go skiing, but I also want to see the grapes on the western slope bask in the summer sun. Most of the vineyards here are family-owned, a big plus in my book if you plan to visit a site. Some also grow berries, which they let visitors pick!
3) Columbia Valley, Washington
Not only is this region home to Walla Walla–one of the most fun names for a city–but it also has roughly seven dozen wineries. That’s small compared to other regions and I hear you’ve got to plan in advance because often wineries are closed to the public without notice. On the other hand, that makes for a more intimate affair that often includes peeks behind the curtain when it comes to the winemaking process. I’ve seen Muscat, Cab Franc and other great grapes grow here.
4) Eugene, Oregon (more generally, Willamette Valley)
I’ve already been wine tasting in Eugene-twice, but I’d happily go a third time. The area is known for its pinots and I had the best Pinot Gris at Silvan Ridge Winery when I was there last. I have yet to hit up the big fish, King Estate, but Sweet Cheeks brings back fond memories of good food, good friends and good wine, and you can’t beat that!
5) Loudoun County, Virginia
Loudoun County is mostly on the list because I know I’ll get there soon: I have several friends who live a hop, skip and a jump away and a free place to stay makes for a happy visit. Rolling hills, estates and horse-riding trails make up this region, which hosts several weekend wine festivals. And then there’s the pretty wineries: good looks and good grapes, I’m sold.
Plus, as Leanne Wiberg (aka @craterlady on Twitter) of Doukenie Winery informed me: Virginia wines are made from French hybrids, such as Traminette, Chambourcin and chardonel. So it seems there’s still French roots in Thomas Jefferson’s home state, how apt. Jefferson was once the American miniser to Versailles after all.
I had no idea there was a big wine scene in Virginia when I lived in D.C. If I had, I would have taken advantage of it!
Where else outside of California, in the United States, is a stand-up place to go wine tasting?