Are you looking for an escape from the standard family vacation? This summer, skip the lines and the crowds as you immerse yourself in a truly unique wine filled getaway. Try new varietals in interesting places as you discover producers making wine in innovative ways. From the Golden Coast to the Great Lakes, a delicious adventure might be closer than you think.
Finger Lakes – New York
Known for Cabernet Franc and Riesling, the Finger Lakes region produces a number of hybrid wines as well. Most of the wineries charge a small tasting fee of $2 to $5, but it will often be refunded with a bottle purchase.
Summer is a great time to visit as temperatures are fairly consistent at 70° to 85°, perfect for a dip in one of the lakes. There are a number of festivals throughout the season, guaranteeing something special every trip.
Lake Erie Wine Country – Pennsylvania
With over 200 wineries, you may be surprised to learn that Pennsylvania is the fifth largest grower of grapes in the United States. With a focus on American-European hybrids, there is certainly a bounty of unknown varieties do try.
There are a number of great places to stay and restaurants to dine at when visiting Pennsylvania’s wine country. Clement’s Lake Erie Cottages offers fishing on the lake and private beaches. For dinner, head over to Freeport for an exceptional seafood meal, fresh from the water.
Traverse City – Michigan
Traverse City is found at the tip of the Grand Traverse Bay off of Lake Michigan and is home to a wonderful and unique drinking culture. Not only do a substantial number of wineries call the region home, but some of the best breweries in the state are located close by as well.
A wide range of styles can be found along the Lower Peninsula’s northern coast with a surprising amount of quality sparkling wine being produced. The National Cherry Festival runs from June 30th through July 7th and is a great opportunity to try some one-of-a-kind fruit wines as well.
Applegate Valley – Oregon
Applegate Valley rests in the southernmost section of Oregon, reaching down to the California border. With its southern and coastal orientations, Applegate Valley is the driest, warmest region of Oregon west of the Cascade Mountain range.
One of the beautiful aspects of traveling to a less developed wine region is that you will often have the opportunity to taste with the winemaker, and usually for less money as well. Try a variety of quality wines from Pinot Gris to Syrah on your next vacation.
Santa Barbara – California
When it comes to having the ultimate vacation, Santa Barbara really has it all. Stunning beaches, great food, a beautiful pier, and acres of vineyards. Home to over 100 wineries, there is certainly a wine for everybody on California’s beautiful golden coast.
Moderated by the Pacific Ocean, temperatures rarely spike into the 90’s even during August, making Santa Barbara comfortable all year. Some of the best restaurants that Southern California has to offer can be found around the county with establishments such as The Lark and Los Agaves crafting head turning, mouthwatering meals all summer long.
Napa – California
For a completely wine-centric vacation, Napa is a hard county to top in terms of quality and wine related activities. Hundreds of tasting rooms span the county from Napa proper to Calistoga. Expect to find a beautiful display of big, bold wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot with a sprinkling of Chardonnay and and Sauvignon Blanc.
There are several unique dining opportunities available, such as the farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch in St. Helena. With the bounty of California all around, there is a great focus on providing the freshest ingredients possible to pair with the spectacular wines produced here.
Columbia Valley – Washington
Columbia Valley represents ⅓ of Washington’s total landmass and is home to 99% of the grapes grown in the state. With its rich array of meso and micro climates, over 30 varieties of quality wine grapes are grown here.
Columbia Valley is represented by hundreds of wineries, from the remarkably massive, to tiny independent producers. Tasting opportunities abound in Washington’s largest wine region.
Sonoma County – California
With all of the quality of Napa but none of the pretense, Sonoma takes the number 1 spot on our list. Cooler temperatures and a beautiful diurnal shift result in nuanced wine with great acidity. Some of the best sparkling wines found anywhere in the country are produced here, as well as great expressions of cool climate varietals.
Dry Creek Valley produces the most acclaimed Zinfandel in the United States, and Chalk Hill, Knights Valley, and Alexander Valley all generate exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon, without the Napa price tag. Terrapin Creek, Farmhouse Inn, and Madrona Manor each offer Michelin Star level service and dining options, and with miles of coastline and acres of redwoods, there is a great bounty of activity for your next trip out west.
Take your vacation experience to the next level with one of these beautiful getaway options. Each of these different and unique areas is capable of providing a perfectly relaxing experience, while the adventure is available right around the corner for those who wish to seek it. Cheers!