You hear the words “wine country”, and without fail, visions of Napa dance through your head. But if you think outside the (wine) box, you’ll actually find a surprising new crop of emerging wine-country destinations popping up around the United States. Chances are, there is one not too far from your neck of the woods. Here are 5 U.S. wine destinations you’re probably missing out on:
1. Texas Hill Country
Try the Cabernet Sauvignon + Syrah + Sangiovese
Spanning across 25 counties in central Texas, including Austin and San Antonio, Texas Hill Country’s stunning vistas are an impressive backdrop for 46 wineries scattered throughout the region. A topography of rivers, lakes and hills lends a special terroir to the local grapes, while hot summers turn out bold, robust reds. Go for the wine, and stay for the Old West charm.
2. Traverse City, Michigan
Try the Gewurztraminer + Riesling + Pinot Grigio
I know what you’re thinking: Michigan wine country? Yep. 71 wineries, to be exact. Situated on a peninsula, the region’s chilly winters and close proximity to the water actually serve a threefold purpose: early frost is thwarted in the fall by the bay’s enduring warm temps, thick layers of lake-effect snow shelter the vines in winter, and chilly springs don’t often allow for early budding, which all adds up to light, clean, fresh-tasting wines replete with fruity flavors. It’s also one of the world’s top producers of ice wine, a potent aperitif made from the juice of winter-frozen grapes.
3. Loudon County, Virginia
Try the Viognier + Petit Verdot + Norton
Just 25 miles from DC, Loudoun County is home to rolling hills, family farms, and more than 40 (award-winning) wineries and tasting rooms. Grouped into six separate clusters, no two wineries are the same, with settings ranging from small barns to grand estates. With the Blue Ridge Mountains lining the horizon, you just might be tempted to see them all. With a temperate climate and rich soil, not to mention proximity to technical experts, Loudon County is quickly gaining a reputation as the Napa of the East.
4. Grand Junction, Colorado
Try the Merlot + Cabernet Sauvignon
As the home of the Rocky Mountains and the top ski destination in the US, Colorado already has a pretty impressive resume. But with more than 20 wineries and vineyards, Colorado’s Grand Valley is the icing on the cake. Red rock cliffs and mesas dot the landscape, while the arid Colorado climate produces thick-skinned red grapes that become full-bodied red wines never lacking in character. The annual Colorado Mountain Wine fest is a September tradition worthy of the pilgrimage.
5. Long Island, New York
Try the Cabernet Franc + Merlot + Chardonnay
Known more for its tony celeb-filled Hamptons, Long Island is actually home to 59 vineyards and 51 tasting rooms. The Island’s North Fork takes full advantage of sea breezes and moderate temps that protect the grapes from late frost and over-ripening, and fresh, zesty wines result. Farm stands brimming with fresh produce, winemaking courses, and even custom wine production round out the offerings.
About Our Contributing Writer: Katy Allan
Katy is a freelance writer, food blogger and founder of Savoring the Flavoring, a website entirely devoted to meal planning and homemade everything. She is gladly accepting stalkers on all social media outlets.