Before the Fall Colors give way to bare trees and snow-brushed branches, grab your partner & use your Road Trip Planner to create a wonderful Wine & Dine Weekend Getaway. A 3-Day Weekend of wining and dining, of walking through vineyards or sun-dappled trails and getting a breath of fresh Fall air will breathe romance into your life and relaxation into your veins.
The Top Wine Producing States in the U.S. are: California, Washington, New York, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, Idaho, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina. But with wine being produced in EVERY State, you can easily build a road trip within driving distance of your home or via a short flight.
Below are some Wine & Dine Weekend Getaways to help with your road trip planning, including some of the top-rated vineyards in the country as well as those wineries offering visitors a beautiful setting and a fun experience.
Central CALIFORNIA: Halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo County produces excellent Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs. The Cottage Inn by the Sea at Pismo Beach overlooks a dramatic stretch of the Pacific. You can venture to the region’s wineries on your own or take their Coastal Wine Tour, which includes the popular Edna Valley Vineyard. Top Restaurant in the area: F. McLintocks Saloon & Dining House.
Northern CALIFORNIA: A verdant valley and a lovely place for a road trip, this area includes Napa, Sonoma, and Healdsburg. Here you can find the Monte Rosso Vineyard, one of California's oldest vineyards and known for its firm Cabernet Sauvignons as well as intense, old-vine Zinfandels. Top Wines from this area: 2002 Ravenswood Monte Rosso Zinfandel; 2003 Rochioli Estate Grown Pinot Noir from the The Rochioli Vineyard in Healdsburg; 2003 Siduri Hirsch Vineyard Pinot Noir from the Hirsch Vineyard & the 2002 Renard Peay Vineyard Syrah, both along the Sonoma coast; 2002 Paul Hobbs Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa.
Southern CALIFORNIA: Add Santa Barbara to your road trip planner because it offers you the Pacific Ocean on one front, the Santa Ynez Mountains at your back, and in between, prime wine country. The Hotel Mar Monte, a historic hotel built in the tradition of Spanish Colonial architecture, offers a package tour to 3 wineries or you can explore on your own. Another option is heading to the Mexican border and staying at the Estero Beach Hotel Resort in San Ysidro. Nearly two dozen wineries can be found in the Mexico Guadalupe Valley. Bonus Activity: For some energetic touring, try a bike tour to a winery or a horseback-riding adventure to the Adobe Guadalupe Vineyard.
Traverse City, MICHIGAN: In the nation's fourth-largest grape-growing state, the Chateau Grand Traverse winery overlooks the Grand Traverse Bay. You can sample their award-winning varietals, including their Rieslings. Nearby, you’ll find the Old Mission Peninsula, which leads you into seven wineries like the Chateau Chantal, Bowers Harbor Vineyards, Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery and Peninsula Cellars.
Long Island, NEW YORK: For some hands-on fun, sign up for Wine Camp at Long Island's renowned wine-producing North Fork region. Wine Camp's packages vary as do the participating vineyards but you’ll enjoy activities like winemaking, tasting techniques, food pairings, and wine blending. The price includes lodging, some lunches & dinners…and a grand souvenir…a case of wine!
Willamette Valley, OREGON: To see a 6-generation family-owned establishment, enjoy a trip to Willamette Farms in Newberg. For a more drama-infused history, check out what used to be called Seven Springs Vineyard. The grapes from this vineyard were sought after by many top wine producers in the world. Then it was cut in half after a legal settlement in 2001, only to be reunited six years later with an exclusive, fifteen-year lease to the Evening Land partnership. FINAL VINTAGE: The St. Innocent Seven Springs Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006.
TEXAS: What often springs to mind when people think of Texas are those BIG 10-gallon hats. And yes, Texas is getting BIGGER… in wine production. This Lone Star State boasts more than 110 bonded wineries and wine aficionados are noticing their award winning wines. Many vineyards offer tours and wine tastings, but the following 3 vineyards stand out because they go the extra mile for their guests: Bella Vista Cellars, in Wimberly; Delaney Vineyards in Grapevine; Flat Creek Estate, west of Austin. Any of the 3 would make an excellent anchor in your road trip planning, whether you create 3 individual weekend getaways or a wine-themed week’s vacation. FUN FACT: A ten gallon hat actually only holds ¾ gallon. Its name was derived from the Spanish galón word meaning braid. So a ten-gallon hat is a hat with a braiding around the brim, not an indicator of gallon capacity.
Warsaw, VIRGINIA: One place I’d recommend adding to your road trip planner is Ingleside Winery, one of the oldest and largest wineries in Virginia. This winery was built in 1834 and the vineyards cover about 70 acres. Their wines have consistently earned top honors in state, national, and international wine competitions. BONUS LODGING: Ingleside Vineyards has two 2-bedroom rental cottages in the vineyards and access to a stunning four-bedroom Leeds Cove retreat, which overlooks the Rappahannock River.
Seattle, WASHINGTON: You can secure a great wine package when you add the Hotel Vintage Park to your road trip planner. Enjoy wine tasting at Pike Place Market's tasting room, and an evening wine hour in the hotel's lobby. Or check out Seven Hills Vineyard in Walla Walla Valley. Seven Hills Vineyard is now one of Washington's best known vineyards.
Getting away for an extended weekend, indulging in respected wines and eclectic dishes, enjoying the view from your hotel window…yes, these are the things that await the Road Trip Planner who heads for wine country.