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Top 10 U.S. Places to Taste Wine This Summer

friends enjoying wine outdoors
Written by Mary Zakheim

This blog post was updated on May 27, 2022.

As we are officially about to kick off summer, we’re cleaning out our palate and sensitizing our noses for one of our favorite summer activities: wine tasting! So come with us and as we take you around America, making frequent stops to enjoy the nectar of the gods in some of the most pristine corners of the country.

Northwest: Washington Wine Country

Yakima Valley Wine Country” by Flickr account TJ Mulinax  – licensed under CC BY 2.0

With over 240 wineries in the southern-central part of Washington State, there’s sure to be a perfect bottle for you here. The rolling hills and farmlands of this area lend it a laid-back vibe and it’s perfect for the wine taster who also loves adventure: there are tons of hiking trails and mountain biking paths, as well as water activities. If small-town friendliness and farm fresh cuisine sound like the perfect pairing with your favorite Syrah, then Washington Wine Country beckons!

Northwest: Willamette Valley, Oregon

Running along a river and surrounded by mountains on three sides, Willamette Valley is a carefully guarded gem in Oregon’s wine country. There are 19,000 acres of vineyards spread across its lush greenery, and they supply to more than 500 wineries in the area. If you’re feeling thirsty, they can definitely quench you! Aside from its wine, Willamette Valley is also known for its agritourism. You can explore farms and food trails; you can tour crops, ranches, distilleries, and produce markets; you can  even pull on your boots and go foraging for wild truffles in the woods. The land is so fertile that it can grow all sorts of things under the bright Oregon sun, and the hungry traveler can enjoy many farm-to-table experiences.

Mountain West: Grand Valley, Colorado

Wine ‘n Yarn” by Flickr account Alan Levine  – licensed under CC BY 2.0

Just a 4-hour drive or a quick hour-long flight from Las Vegas, Denver, and Salt Lake City, you’ll find the quiet towns of Palisade, Grand Junction, and Fruita. Once regarded as a quiet agricultural stretch of land, Grand Valley is quickly becoming a destination for wine-and-adventure thirsty travelers. In addition to its dozens of wineries, the Grand Valley area is also famous for hiking, camping, whitewater rafting, and mountain biking. The towns welcome a unique mix of adventurers and wine tasters, so if you need your adrenaline rush served up with a glass of wine on the side, you know where you should go next!

Texas Hill Country, Texas

Down in the beating heart of the Lone Star State is a beautifully remote area called Texas Hill Country. It’s filled with cliffs, boulders, and outcroppings of rugged limestone and granite, many of which have prickly cacti and juniper trees growing from the cracks, giving the whole area a very stark image against the Texas horizon. Go a little deeper in the country, however, and you’ll see it bloom.

There are dozens of vineyards nestled in the hills, and they can offer an incredible experience for wine lovers from all walks of life. From tours and tastings to sponsored grape stomps during wine-themed festivals, there’s always something new to try, especially if you’re the adventurous type. There are so many wineries in Texas Hill Country that they compete with each other to be bigger, bolder, and better than each other. Everything’s bigger in Texas!

West Coast: Sonoma County

red wine tasting” by Flickr account karmacamilleeon  – licensed under CC BY 2.0

An easy hour drive north of San Francisco, Sonoma County is a more chilled-out option to its posher Napa Valley neighbor. But don’t let the easy-going vibe fool you. Its wines still rake in awards and accolades internationally. Spanning over more than a million acres, there are over 425 unique wineries that call the area home. Be prepared for a more intimate experience, where winemakers will pour you a glass of their creations, engage in unhurried conversation, and even give you recommendations of things to do around town.

West Coast: Napa Valley, California

You know Napa Valley. Everyone knows Napa Valley. It boasts more than 400 wineries, some of them dating back to the days before Prohibition, and many of them producing world-class wines such as Merlot, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon. You don’t have to be a connoisseur to enjoy your time in Napa Valley, however.

More than 95 percent of its wineries are family owned and operated, so they have welcoming, “wine country casual” atmospheres with people who are happy to share their passion for what they do. They’ll help you tour vineyards, book restaurant reservations, sign up for tastings and pairings, join cooking classes and workshops, and explore all kinds of caves, cellars, and bottle collections. If you’re at all interested in where your reds and whites come from, you’re sure to have a blast in America’s most famous wine region!

East Coast: Charlottesville, Virginia

The boys try the Chilli wine” by Flickr account Sarah– licensed under CC BY 2.0

Founding Father Thomas Jefferson inspired the historical Monticello Wine Trail. The rest as they say, is history. While Virginia’s famous son never lived to see the fruition of his vision of Virginian wineries standing shoulder to shoulder with the famous European wineries of the day, more than 200 years later, there are over 20 wineries in the area that have earned national and international awards. If you like to pair your wine with an interesting dose of history, then this is the place to visit!

You may also like: To Your Health! Uncorking The Best Wine Festivals Across the U.S.

East Coast: Yadkin Valley, North Carolina

Wine from…North Carolina? Absolutely! Yadkin Valley is a fun and lively region where the wine never stops flowing, and it’s also known for being an attractive tourist hub in general. Whether you want to drink, dine, shop, or explore, you can always find new things to do under its endless blue skies.

Another cool thing about Yadkin Valley is that it’s marked by a diverse landscape that can provide a wide range of vacation experiences. Some wineries, for example, have expensive menus, upscale lounges, and private tours and tastings by appointment only. Other wine shops are run out of the back rooms of llama-dotted farms in the middle of nowhere. You can essentially travel to the big city and the backwoods all at once. That’s the Yadkin Valley experience!

Northeast: Hudson River Valley

NY Drinks NY #brotherhoodwinery #newyorkwine #represent #empirestate

A post shared by Brotherhood Winery (@brotherhoodwinery) on

Just a short hour’s drive from New York City, the beautiful and scenic Hudson River Valley plays host to over two dozen historic wineries. In the 1600s, this area was where the first vineyards were cultivated and the first winery constructed. The oldest operating winery, Brotherhood Winery (dating back to 1839) is still operational, so take that in mind if you intend to book cheap flights in July to the Big Apple. For a taste of fine wines, an interesting lesson in history, and a promise of sweeping river views, the Hudson River Valley is the perfect spot to sip on a glass of wine.

Northeast: Finger Lakes, New York

New York State might not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of wine country, but if you’re willing to travel outside of NYC, you can find absolutely stunning sights, and delicious wine, at the Finger Lakes. It’s a beautiful region centered around its namesake waters, and for the thirsty traveler, it boasts hundreds of wineries, breweries, bars, pubs, and distilleries. Grape varieties range from Chardonnay and Riesling to Vidal Blanc and Pinot Noir.

You can indulge in old favorites or try new and creative flavors as befitting your adventure. In addition to its spirits, Finger Lakes offers many other attractions and amenities as well. You can explore casinos, state parks, race tracks, shopping centers, and more. It’s the kind of place where you’ll never be bored – especially if you keep a glass of red in hand!

So whether you’re looking for cheap flights from San Francisco to New York, or from New York to San Francisco, there’s a little something for every wine lover across the whole of the U.S.A.!

What are you waiting for? Gather a group of pals, head out to one of these wine regions, and share your experience with us. Cheers!

About the author

Mary Zakheim

When she is not figuring out what the middle button on her headphones is for, explaining the difference between Washington State and Washington D.C., arriving to the airport too early or refusing to use the Oxford comma, you can usually find Mary in the mountains, at a show or on her couch.

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