You don’t have to be an oenophile to at least recognize the reputation that Napa Valley has as a great stop for wine lovers.
But there are quite a few other places throughout the U.S. that offer great opportunities to get your wine on…exactly the kind of places many of our RV Lifestyle fellow travelers might want to add to their respective bucket lists. Not to mention, many of these areas will give you a great opportunity to take advantage of services available through Harvest Hosts.
In fact, Brides magazine recently put together a list of “The Best U.S. Wine Regions Beyond Napa Valley.”
To make it easy, I put their list below (plus, one of our own from the upper Midwest):
Door County region, Wisconsin/Grand Traverse region, Michigan
I’m not sure why the Door County region of Wisconsin and Grand Traverse region of Michigan are not on this list, but in my opinion, they should be. Both sit on the same latitude and are essentially separated by Lake Michigan. In Door County, consider parking your rig and taking the Premier Wine Tour offered by Door County Trolley. In Michigan, wineries are found aplenty in the region in and around Traverse City. Of course, a favorite trip is to drive up Old Mission Peninsula where you can stop at wineries all the way up to the historic Mission Point Lighthouse.
Sonoma is renowned for its relaxed atmosphere, diverse viticulture, and world-class wine. Stretching from the Pacific Coast to the Mayacamas Mountains, it touts 17 distinct appellations, 60,000 acres of vineyards, upwards of 400 wineries, and a dazzling variety of vino, from oaky Chardonnay and bright Sauvignon Blanc to beautifully balanced Pinot Noirs and full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon.
Willamette Valley, Oregon
Willamette Valley is on the same latitude as Bordeaux (the city and region in France where Bordeaux wines originate) and, like its French counterpart, has established itself as one of the top Pinot Noir producers on the planet. The area also produces fine Rieslings, Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs, and Pinot Grises. This scenic area is less than an hour drive from Portland, making it an easy day trip — although it’s suggested to give yourself a full weekend. McMinnville is the epicenter of Willamette Valley, and serves as an ideal home base from which to explore the more than 550 local wineries.
Texas Hill Country, Texas
Spanning an astounding nine million acres west of Austin and north of San Antonio, Texas Hill Country is the second largest American Viticultural Area (AVA) in the nation. It’s warm, dry climate makes it a haven for heat-loving varietals. Try a big, bold Cabernet Sauvignon at Becker Vineyards. Make your way to Granite Hill Vineyards for mega-delicious Merlot, and taste robust Tannat (the national grape of Uruguay) at William Chris Vineyards.
Walla Walla Valley, Washington
Walla Walla Valley was an early leader in Washington wine and its viticulture scene continues to flourish. The region’s sunny climate, fertile soil, and 200-day-long growing season makes it particularly attractive to vintners. Today, the region also serves as home to the highest concentration of wineries in the state, ranging from venerable vintners such as Leonetti Cellar, Woodward Canyon, and L’Ecole No 41 to exciting newcomers. Red remains supreme in this region; Cabernet Sauvignon is the most widely planted grape, followed by Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec.
Paso Robles, California
Paso Robles has a lot to offer oenophiles. Located halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, this idyllic destination is full of verdant vineyards, picturesque estates, and wonderful wineries. Cabernet Sauvignon is the star, but it’s not the only thing to drink. Paso Robles also boasts excellent Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel, and white Rhône-style blends. And because it’s still fairly under-the-radar, prices are pretty reasonable. Stock up at Ecluse Wines and head to Sculpterra for an afternoon of sipping vino and gawking at the glorious sculpture gardens.
Finger Lakes, New York
The Finger Lakes in west-central New York is famed for its world-class Riesling. You’ll also find fabulous Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer. Endeavoring to visit the some 100 wineries in a single weekend is beyond ambitious (it’s impossible), so best to come up with a game plan. Jennifer and I enjoy visiting the region and you can check out the video below for details of our stop at a winery in the Finger Lakes region. As we note, Harvest Hosts offers many great places to stay overnight in your RV.