Four American wine regions that aren’t the Napa Valley

Erin Van Der Meer

When you think of American wine, the Napa Valley north of San Francisco is probably what comes to mind. But no matter where you are in the States, you’re probably not too far from a chance to stroll vineyards and taste wines (and then taste some more wines).

Get out of the city and head to one of these US wine regions.

1. The Finger Lakes, New York

A four-and- a-half- hour drive north-west of New York City you’ll find the Finger Lakes, a wine region named for its, you guessed it, long, skinny lakes. The area has more than 100 vineyards, and is made up of adorable little towns that look straight out of a Nicholas Sparks novel (large homes with wrap-around porches, American flags hanging over doors and friendly locals).

Stay at the Finger Lakes charming Inns of Aurora property.

Stay in Aurora, which is right on Cayuga Lake and an easy drive to some of the area’s must-visit cellars. After checking in to the Inns of Aurora, a collection of former private mansions turned B&B properties, hop in your hire car and drive five minutes to Heart & Hands, a vineyard specialising in pinot noir and riesling.

Then drive over to Seneca Lake and pay a visit to Red Tail Ridge, and then J.R Dill. With its position high on the hill, it’s a good spot to watch the sunset over the lake.

Have a beer with a view at Two Goats Brewing in Finger Lakes.

You can also break up all the vino with a brew across the road at micro-brewery Two Goats Brewing. For dinner, the Inns Of Aurora
Dining Room serves up a sophisticated, seasonal modern American menu, indoors on the veranda, where you can watch the sun go down over the lake.

Or head to Stonecat Café near J.R Dill, where the focus is on regionally sourced, organic produce.

Visit the Finger Lake in Autumn to see the leaves change colour.
Smoked Salmon with Beet Sauerkraut at the Inns of Aurora dining room at the Finger Lakes

2. Texas Hill Wine Country

Texas is more likely to make you think of deep-fried food and 10-gallon cowboy hats, not wine. But it does have a sophisticated wine region that Lonely Planet named one of the top 10 places in America to visit in 2017.

Texas Hill Wine Country is west of Austin and north of San Antonio, which makes it an ideal side trip from either city. Be prepared to drive a lot, because the area’s best hotels and must-visit wineries are quite spread out.

Cool off in the pool at Travaasa near Austin in Texas.

For a luxe stay, it’s got to be Travaasa, which is close to Austin, or Escondida, closer to San Antonio. Both have stylish pools for cooling off from that dry Texas heat, and spas to help you relax after a punishing (ahem) day of wine tasting.

Many of the not-to- be-missed wineries in the region are near the town of Fredericksburg along Wine Road 290: Becker Vineyards is one of the biggest properties and sells picnic supplies to enjoy on the grounds, nearby Torre di Pietra is especially nice in the cooler months when the fireplace is likely to be roaring as you taste, and Grape Creek Vineyards, which often has live music on weekends.

Don't miss Becker Vineyards in Texas Hill wine country.

3. The Tualatin Valley, Oregon

Just a 40-minute drive outside Portland, Oregon is one of the country’s most underrated wine regions – the Tualatin Valley. The close proximity to Portland means you can easily make day trips to the region, known for its exceptional pinot noir (for the white wine lovers, the pinot gris, riesling and chardonnay are also world-class).

If you want to settle in for a few days there’s the no-fuss DoubleTree by Hilton, or in the warmer months you can make the most of the natural beauty and sleep under the stars at a camping spot.

Picturesque David Hill Winery in the Tualatin Valley outside Portland Oregon.

Tualatin Valley wineries are mostly an easy drive from each other; Ponzi Vineyards Historic Estate, Union Wine Co. and Oak Knoll Winery tend to be visitor favourites.

Meanwhile the food scene is seriously diverse – there’s a cluster of Korean restaurants in nearby Beaverton, as well as plenty of Mexican influence at Sanchez Taqueria and The Tamale House. For a modern menu and innovative cocktails in a cool-casual space, don’t miss Industry Restaurant.Industry Restaurant.

The beautiful Tualatin Valley.

4. Santa Barbara, California

Just two hours’ from Los Angeles, Santa Barbara is a great option for wine lovers visiting Hollywood. The region’s different micro-climates mean Santa Barbara produces a wide range of wines, including some niche varieties like Albariño and Grenache Blanc.

Belmond El Encanto is one of Santa Barbaras most luxurious hotels.

Stay at Belmond El Encanto, a luxurious, relaxed property with a stunning pool looking out over the tree tops and ocean below.

Or for a more low-key but still stylish vibe, check-in to trendy spot The Wayfarer. On the tasting trail, the vineyards you want to visit could be an hour or two on the road from one another, so decide which you’ve got your heart set on and pick a few others close by.

Pull up a stool at the Babcock tasting room in Santa Barbara.

You can’t miss Alma Rosa, with its flawless pinot noir and Instagram-worthy tasting room, then head to nearby Babcock with its equally cool space to taste. Beckmen in the rolling hills of Los Olivos is also close, as is Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard.

Cambria and Foxen are about 45 minutes driving north, but absolutely worth the trip.

The stylish tasting room at Alma Rosa in Santa Barbara.

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