When it comes to wine country getaways in America, Napa Valley and Sonoma take center stage. There are many under-the-radar locations that are on par with these two giants. Here we chose 7 to share with you.
1. Central Virginia, Virginia
Located on the eastern slope of Blue Ridge Mountains, Central Virginia has over 200 days of sunshine, is fertile, and the climate is suitable for Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Viognier and more.
The Central Virginia wine region is one of the ten wine regions in Virginia. Virginia is home to almost 300 wineries, and about 75 of these are around and in the Monticello area. But over 200 years ago, Thomas Jefferson’s dream of producing wine in his estate in Monticello, didn’t come to fruition. After spending a few years (1784 to 1789) in France enjoying the old world wine, Thomas Jefferson tried to cultivate European grape varieties in his estate. His attempt wasn’t a success, but it put Monticello on the map, and today it’s known is as the Birthplace of American Wine.
Currently, there over 30 member wineries on the Monticello Wine Trail. Visitors can visit all the wineries or pick a few along the trail. Check out Barboursville, a winery founded in the 18th century, and since 1976, Barboursville Vineyards became one of the estates of the Zonin family of Italy.
2. Upper Peninsula, Michigan
Michigan has four certified American Viticulture Areas (AVA), mostly in the Grand Traverse Bay area. If you have to choose, go to the Upper Peninsula, the untouched region of Michigan.
The Upper Peninsula’s wineries are set on the northern side of Mackinac Bridge, surrounded by beautiful lakes, beaches, and hiking trails. The viticulture and climate in the Upper Peninsula is similar to Austria and Germany – with short growing seasons, which is suitable for hardier grapes. You’ll find a variety of chardonnays, cabernets, and pinot grigios.
For a taste of the best, check out Leigh’s Garden Winery, Northern Sun Winery, Threefold Vine Winery, and Garden Bay Winery.
3. Hermann, Missouri
If you like wine history and want to know where the top wine producers were before Napa Valley took over, go to the historic German town in Missouri called Hermann.
Hermann was America’s number one wine producer between 1865 and 1870, and it was one of the world’s largest wine-producing regions at the end of the 19th century.
The oldest and most award-winning winery in Hermann, Stone Hill Winery, won the first of eight World’s Fair gold medals in Vienna in 1873. A visit there is a must to learn about the history of American wine production. Stone Hill has the longest series of old arched underground cellars in America.
Hermann is also known for its yearly Oktoberfest and authentic German traditions.
4. Grand River Valley, Ashtabula County, Ohio
Ashtabula County is home to over 30 wineries, and 23 of those are in Grand River Valley. Though wine is the main attraction here, don’t limit your options when visiting Grand River Valley, try the craft beers, hard apple ciders, vodka, and bourbon.
Add Grand River Cellars Winery, Debonne Vineyards, Ferrante Winery, and South River Vineyard to your list of wineries to visit. Ashtabula County is also known for its covered bridges and Barn Quilt Trail.
5. Verde Valley, Arizona
Arizona’s winemaking has more than 450 years of history. Spanish settlers started winemaking in the 1600s when Arizona was part of Mexico. Then came the Italian Jesuit missionary Eusebio Francisco Kino in the early 1700s.
In the late 1880s, a German immigrant Henry Schuerman established a large vineyard in northern Arizona’s Verde Valley. Then came the shut down in 1915 when the sale of alcohol was banned in Arizona.
Since the 70s, there are over 100 wineries in Arizona. There are three central regions: Verde Valley, Sonoita, and Willcox. For the best experience, visit Arizona Strongholds Vineyards and Alcantara Vineyards in Verde Valley. These wineries are about 4,000 feet above sea level. Try the Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Sirah, Viognier, Chardonnay, and Mourvedre.
6. Finger Lakes, NY
If you like Riesling, Cabernet Franc, and Gewürztraminer, you will love the Finger Lakes, home to over 140 wineries. Most of these wineries are around Cayuga, Seneca, and Keuka Lakes because the lakes serve as an air temperature-regulating system to the extreme temperatures of this region.
Choose one of these three wine trails: Cayuga Lake Wine Trail, Keuka Lake Wine Trail, or Seneca Lake Wine Trail. Or just visit Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery, Wagner Vineyards, Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards, Ravines Wine Cellars, and Hermann J Wiemer Vineyard.
7. Snake River Valley, Idaho
Snake River Valley extends across parts of Idaho and Oregon. Snake River Valley on the Idaho side has over 50 wineries. The region is surrounded by scenic mountains and landscapes, making the visit pleasant and relaxing. Red wine drinkers will enjoy the Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Syrah, and Merlot. For whites, check out Viognier, Grenache Blanc, and Riesling.
To get the best of your wine experience, join the Sunnyslope Wine Trail featuring 15 of Idaho’s top wine producers.