When we think of wine country in the US, images of Napa Valley or Sonoma are likely to fill our heads. However, several other states offer wine country that is just as beautiful and even a little unexpected, making a trip to wine country more feasible than you think.
Grapes can grow in a variety of climates and conditions, making them a good fit for many states across the country. The taste of the wine is often attributed to the growing conditions, so you may find that wine in different areas tastes a bit different from the common wines you are used to. We’ve rounded up our four favorite, and least expected, wine country destinations that are not in California.
It turns out more than just cacti can thrive in the hot Arizona desert. Some varieties of grapes actually like the sandy soil and the hot, dry days. Arizona is home to several wineries, vineyards and tasting rooms, with some of the larger wineries producing wines from only Arizona grapes. Head north of Phoenix to the Verde Valley Wine Trail and you’ll find vineyards tucked among the mountains and growing along the Verde River. Alcantara and Page Springs are two of the best-known vineyards in northern Arizona. You can also head south toward Tucson to find another set of wineries mostly located in or near Sonoita. Just about all the wineries provide a tasting and souvenir glass for less than $10.
Oregon has 15 distinct wine regions that offer a variety of climates and scenery. While most of the winemaking regions are on the west side of the state, you can also find some nestled along the northern border and one area along the eastern edge of the state. Oregon is known for high-quality wines made using sustainable practices. While you may find some Oregon wines in markets near you, the majority of the wineries only offer their wine for sale on the premises. Most wineries come complete with a restaurant and some even offer a bed and breakfast, so you can create a full vacation out of a trip to the vineyard.
Iowa has several wineries around the state. The vast open spaces, warm, humid summers and ample rain make it a perfect spot for several varieties of grapes. Many of the wineries are privately run by families but some larger wine makers also call Iowa home. The Iowa Winegrowers Association has a list of all the wineries in the area. If you are up for a road trip you can try to fit in the Bridges of Madison County and the Field of Dreams, both in Iowa.
For East Coast residents, California is a long flight. Luckily, Virginia offers amazing wine country with delectable wines. There are 15 wine regions in Virginia, with conditions nearly as varied as Oregon. The Chesapeake wine trail offers a unique opportunity to experience wineries along the coast while the Fauquier wine trail takes you through the Virginia countryside. You’ll find hundreds of wineries and vineyards throughout the state.