Wine Tasting & Wine Country Experiences

Wine Country Travel

Wine country travel, also known as Enotourism and Vinitourism, is not only an engaging and delightful experience of strolling and tasting wine. It’s a way of accustoming your senses to a cultural identity, as every wine region and country has its own. Consuming, visiting and even getting involved in grape harvest can enlarge your life perspective. Red or white, dry or sweet, this elegant beverage has been widely associated throughout history with the saying “it gets better with time”. Check it for yourself through a wine country travel experience in the most famous American states for their high-quality wine producing habits. From Washington to New York, going through California and Texas, you can easily outline the United States’ map through wine drinking trips.

California, specifically the northern area suggestively named Wine Country, is the largest producer of quality wine in the States. Over 90% of the overall amounts of American wine grapes come from the breathtaking hills and valleys scattered across four counties. Wine tours and outdoor tasting bars are largely available here.

Wine country travel areas
Sonoma County, situated at north of San Francisco, offers, besides great wines, a multitude of natural parks, so hiking and cycling, among other activities as hot-air balloon rides and kayaking, are only a few of the things you can experiment here.

Napa County, home to Napa Valley, a significant American Viticulture Area (AVA), is located north of San Pablo Bay, and its wine producing history goes back two centuries. About five million people visit it each year, so wine country travel is common in the area.

Mendocino County comprises over ten viticulture areas and its specific climate favors a shorter growing time for vines. The most popular include the Anderson, Redwood and Potter Valleys.

Graperies and wine types
Sonoma is currently home to over 400 vineries spread on about 60,000 acres, while nearby Napa has most of its agricultural land occupied by over 450 graperies. The Mendocino Country harvests over 60,000 tons each year on about 10,000 acres.

Cabernet Sauvignon, one of the most popular red wine grape varieties, is widely available in Napa Valley and was one of the surprising winners at the Judgment of Paris in 1976. Along with the sophisticated Chardonnay and Pinot specific to Sonoma, its refined flavor easily competes now with the until-then preferred French versions. Merlot and Zinfandel are two others grape varieties found in these Californian internationally-famous wine country travel regions.

Washington occupies the second place in the wine producers ranking, exporting wine to over 40 countries and possessing thirteen American Vilticultural Areas, all separated by the Cascade Mountain chain.

Wine country travel areas
Columbia Valley encompasses most of the other recognized areas and its surface represents a third of the state. Also known locally as the Columbia Basin, it mainly lies in the river’s plateau, extending into the nearby state of Oregon.

Horse Heaven Hills, bordered by the Yakima Valley and the Columbia River, produces some of the oldest wines in the country, so it’s another appreciated wine country travel destination.

Graperies and wine types
In this state, there are over 850 wineries, distributed on over 40,000 acres of land. In the Horse Heaven Hills region, one can visit the prestigious and oldest vineyard Mercer Ranch, known as Champoux Vineyard. Chronologically, most representative wines began with Riesling and Chardonnay, continued with Merlot and finished with Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Oregon has been involved in winemaking ever since its 19th century settling, but it has become a representative industry in the state and wine country travel target only few decades ago.

Wine country travel areas
Willamette Valley with its mild climate is the right place for red wine. Wine connoisseurs make the distinction between the northern and southern parts of this region. In the north, it extends from the Columbia River to Eugene in the south.

Southern Oregon merges two valleys through a mountainous strip, the Rogue Valley and the Umpqua Valley. Both of them contain drainage basins of the same named rivers, Rogue and Umpqua, and produce distinct types of grape.

Graperies and wine types
Over 300 wineries exist in the state, 200 of them in the Willamette Valley. Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris are the top selections in this region, over 16,000 tons being yielded annually. Other assortments include Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muller-Thurgau. Alternative choices such as sparkling, ice and dessert wines can also be tried on a wine country travel voyage in this state.

New York, home to the nation’s first bonded winery and also to the oldest operating winery, produces many great wines using European and regional varieties in four areas.

Wine country travel areas
Finger Lakes, largest wine producing region located in the west-central part, is a widely sought tourist destination by wine country travel enthusiasts. Some of the deepest and narrowest lakes in the States are found here, Cayuga Lake and Seneca Lake, and on maps they resemble human fingers.

Lake Erie, region stretched on over 2 million acres on the southern shore of Lake Erie, is the New York part where kosher wines are still marketed by homemakers exclusively for religious purposes. Summer houses and cabins can be rented near the lake, and besides wine country travel tours, local attractions include lighthouses visits, swimming and fishing.

Long Island encapsulates 2 counties, Nassau and Suffolk, and consists of islands, beaches and shore lands whose climate is determined by the neighboring Atlantic Ocean and Peconic Bay. Here one can enjoy a glass of wine with a Blue Point oyster dish, a delicacy firstly reaped here that apparently was Queen Victoria’s favorite.

Hudson River Region, in current times a historic site, shelters the oldest operating winery, the Brotherhood Winery. It was settled in 1839, but many others have been planted mainly on the western side of the river.

Graperies and wine types
The Finger Lakes and Long Island regions comprise about 200 graperies, with over 100 only in the first. French hybrid varieties dominate, but American native Vitis labrusca is cultivated here too. A typical choice in the Lake Erie is the Concord grape variety, scattered on over 42,000 acres. Regional wines include Riesling, Cabernet Franc, Vidal Blanc and Seyval Blanc.

Virginia ranks fifth in a top of American wine producers and its first commercial vineyard cultivations have been promoted by the United States’ third president. It is the reason why, while in the state, one can visit the Jefferson Vineyard, located in the vicinity of Monticello.

Wine country travel areas
The Shenandoah Valley, delimited by the Blue Ridge Mountains at east and the Appalachian Plateau at west, is a constituent part of the Great Appalachian Valley.

Monticello, a historical site along the eastern side of the Blue Ridge Mountains, is the home of the Piedmont region where the first plantation of President Thomas Jefferson was located. The plantation house is open to public for limited periods each year.

Other AVA regions in the state include the Virginia’s Eastern Shore, The Rocky Knob and the North Fork of Roanoke.

Graperies and wine types
The state harvests about 7,500 tones every year from its vineyards spread on 3,000 acres. More than 230 wineries can be explored in Charlottesville. In Monticello, over 30 grape varieties are grown, and the most representative wines here are Chardonnay, Viognier and Cabernet Franc.

Texas is home to fifteen native grape varieties, more than any other wine area, as its sunny and dry climate is more than adequate for grape plantations.

Wine country travel areas
Bell Mountain is a central region with relevant plantations on its southern slopes, due to the local light soils and temperature. This was the first American Viticulture Area designated in Texas.

Texas Hill Country is the second most visited wine region in the country, and is situated at west of Austin and north of San Antonio. Cultural Spanish and German influences can be remarked in the residents’ life and the cost living is very reasonable in this hilly area.

Texas High Plains consist of mostly dry climate, so irrigation is essential at the vineyards planted on flat terrains located at approximately 1,000 m above sea level.

Graperies and wine types
Particular in Bell Mountain is the Cabernet Sauvignon variety, which is harvested here in 9 vineries. In Texas Hill Country, mainly French and Spanish grape varieties are planted on less than 800 acres out of the 8 million locally available, while in the Texas Hill Plains 20 vineries occupy about 3,500 acres.

Whatever kind of wine you prefer as color, texture and intensity, a wine country travel tour will provide you plenty of opportunities to try a vintage or new assortment. Whether professionally guided or initiated on your own, take into account factors such as local climate, accommodation and geography when initiating your drinking adventure. Outdoor or indoor, opting for a wine country travel adventure will surely help you relax while broadening your societal and cultural cognition.

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