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California isn’t the only state in the U.S. associated with wine production, although with more than 667 million gallons produced annually it is by far the largest contributor. In truth, New York, Washington, Oregon and Florida, plus Midwestern states like Ohio, Missouri and Illinois are either already known or are gaining steam for their varietals, currently boasting more than 3,000 commercial vineyards in the U.S. If Napa crowds get you down, check out these other worthy wine destinations in the US that make for a perfect weekend of boozy distractions. Looking for international wine vacation ideas? Check out the blog.

Related: These are the 10 most traveled for beers in America.

1. Central Coast: California
It’s easy to zoom from L.A. to San Francisco via I-5 or make the same journey via Pacific Coast Highway’s twisty turns and completely miss this large swath of wine country that lies on both sides of Hwy 101 and includes chic coastal communitieslike Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and the Monterey Peninsula. The entire area is peppered with both large and boutique wineries specializing in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, among others. Grab a few bottles, plop down with a blanket and admire the bucolic countryside and rugged mountain scenery.


2. Columbia Valley: Washington
A highly respected wine region if there ever was one, the Columbia Valley is home to 99% of the wines produced in the Evergreen State, although its coveted location in the southeastern portion of the state (on other side of the Cascade Mountain Range) is thus a somewhat cumbersome day trip from Seattle. Instead, plan a full weekend exploring this vast and spectacularly pretty region whose best yields include Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Riesling, Syrah and Merlot. Most wineries here are small and family owned and operated.


3. Fennville: Michigan
Craving a weekend getaway where idyllic farm communities, boho arts towns and Lake Michigan collide ? The tiny, twin arts enclaves of Saugatuck and Douglas boast a rustic cool vibe that for many years have attracted weekend warriors from Chicago and across the Wolverine State. A trip to the region is never complete without an excursion to nearby Fennville which is justly famous for its u-pick-it berry farms, apple orchards and family-owned wineries which crank out large quantities of Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris.


4. Finger Lakes: New York
A popular tourist destination regardless of any affinity for the grape, this region of Upstate New York that is comprised of eleven, long and spindly lakes is nevertheless famous among oenophiles as a wine region knows for its short growing season and cool climate varietals like Riesling, ice wine and also Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Also known for its breweries and hard ciders, visitors to the region can follow one of a handful one wine trails and pair their bounty with a selection from the Finger Lakes Cheese Trail and a lakefront picnic.


5. Ohio River Valley: Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and West Virginia
One of the largest American Viticultural Areas in the U.S., these wineries snake along the Ohio River which divides the area into two distinct growing regions including the humid subtropics of the southern states and the continental climate to the north. As a result, the Ohio River Valley is celebrated for both its hybrid varieties and also for its Chardonnays, Cabernet Sauvignons and Rieslings. Followthe wine trails close to the river or swoop through cities like Louisville and Cincinnati where the wines are features on menus in local eateries.


6. Shawnee Hills: Illinois
Hill country in Illinois, you say? The Land of Lincoln is actually blessed with a rugged topography in both the northwest and southern corners of the state, but they are so far in proximity from Chicago that most folks don’t know they exist. Nevertheless, Shawnee Hills is an emerging wine region boasting some two dozen wineries, abundant nature and a plethora of bed and breakfasts just a couple hours south of Saint Louis. Varietals are French-American hybrids including Seyval Blanc and Vidal Blanc whites and Chambourcin and Chancellor reds.


7. Shenandoah Valley: Virginia
More than two dozen wineries are scattered throughout this spindly and vast region which is tucked in by the Blue Ridge Mountains to the east and the Alleghenies to the west. The area not only boasts about six different wine trails, but is also a treasure trove of colonial hamlets, college towns and abundant natural wonders all within several hours drive from Washington, D.C. The combination of fertile soil and a warm growing season lends the region an abundance of varietals including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel and many others.


Related: Here’s you six-second postcard from Central California’s beautiful Pacific Coast Highway.

8. Temecula Valley: California
As a day trip from San Diego, Orange County or Los Angeles, the Temecula Valley is a cinch to get to and thus a worthy diversion forthirsty oenophiles. Although hot much of the year, the vineyards are gently misted by cool air from the Pacific Ocean. Nevertheless, Temecula’s warm climes are best suited to grapes such as Rhone varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel although Mediterranean varietals like Syrah has recently been gaining steam. Don’t forget a stroll through Old Town Temecula which is is charming, if a bit ersatz in places.


9. Texas Hill Country: Texas
Everything is bigger in Texas including this expansive wine region which touches 23 counties in the Lone Star State and is the fourth largest American Viticultural Area in the United States. Not particularly well known beyond Texas borders, the region nevertheless attracts five million visitors annually, helped in part by the fact that the region includes two major cities—Austin and San Antonio (we smell a day trip!)—and the historic town of Fredericksburg. Notable varietals include Cabernet Sauvingon, Zinfandel and Chadonnay.


10. Willamette Valley: Oregon
Where the Columbia and Willamette rivers intersect in downtown Portland might be the epitome of urban cool, but follow the Willamette downriver and you’ll hit one of the best and most convenient wine regions in the West Coast. Oregon wines are rapidly gaining steam, especially Pinot Noir which thrives in the region’s maritime climate. A perfectly accessible day trip, motor down to the Valley mid-morning for a few tastings followed by a picnic and be back by dinnertime to crack open a new purchase at one of the city’s celebrated restaurants.


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Tagged: California, New York

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Jason Heidemann

Jason Heidemann

Jason is a Lead Content Specialist for Expedia Group, and manages content initiatives across numerous Expedia-owned brands. His work has been featured in the Chicago Tribune, Time Out, the Huffington Post, Chicago Magazine, Passport and many others.

3 thoughts on “10 great wine destinations in the US (that aren’t Napa Valley)”

  1. You posted an amazing blog!! I agree that California is the place that possesses a few best wine regions…I already have viewed most of them.

  2. I am very impressed by Finger Lakes: New York, it looks stunning and calm lakes. I feel like to jump into it and take a bath for whole day. Great place for picnic. Thank you for sharing this Jason, I am so amazed that many great places aside from Napa Valley to visit.

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