If you're a wine-lover, you probably have a list of all the wine regions you would love to visit. For many, hot spots such as France, Portugal, and Spain top the list. While we'd all love to sip our way through Europe, this isn't always an option. But that doesn't mean you can't taste some of the finest pinot noir at a winery. In fact, there are many regions across the United States that have no problem competing with the big names across the ocean.
While some of these regions may come as no surprise to anyone who knows even a little about wine, other regions are fairly new to the scene. Here are four of the best wine regions in the United States:
Willamette Valley, Oregon
The Willamette Valley is a 150 mile stretch of rolling hills and vineyards extending from Portland to just south of Eugene. The mild climate and fertile soil make the Willamette Valley one of the best producers of pinot noir in the world. In addition to pinots, Oregon is a prolific producer of rieslings, chardonnay, and syrah. If you're looking to pair your wine with some amazing food, you can't beat the culinary scene in Portland, a top destination for any foodie.
Wine Enthusiast calls the Willamette Valley, "one of the most influential wine producing regions in all of Oregon as well as the entire Pacific Northwest." The region has over 500 wineries, accounting for more than two-thirds of the state's vineyards. Many vineyards host special events over Memorial Day weekend. Or, visit in September and take part in the harvest festivities.
While you're visiting the valley, a trip to the Oregon Coast is a must. Take a drive a few hours west and enjoy some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Enjoy some Dungeness crab paired with a local pinot. Multnomah Falls is another can't miss spot, located just east of Portland.
Napa Valley, California
You can't have a list of the best wine regions in the United States without including Napa Valley. Around the world, Napa is synonymous with wine. While Napa features a wide selection of grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon is what the region does best. According to Napa Valley Vintners, the Paris tasting of 1976 is when Napa first received attention. As of 2019, there are over 400 wineries in Napa Valley.
Believe it or not, over 95% of the vineyards are family-owned. Several local vineyards offer tours and tastings, or you can even hop on the wine train and view the stunning region by rail while you enjoy a gourmet meal and local wine.
Napa is the wine region to visit in the U.S. if you are really looking for a luxury trip. In addition to some of the best-known names in wine, Napa also boasts several high-end restaurants, including a handful of Michelin-starred spots, as well as one of the most expensive hotels in the country, Calistoga Ranch.
Santa Barbara County, California
Napa's not the only wine region in California. In fact, not even close. The whole state is a wine lover's dream. But one that really stands out is Santa Barbara County. Located about 400 miles south of Napa, and just north of L.A., Santa Barbara is more than a beach town. The actual wine region sits just north of the well-known beach and has over 200 wineries and grows over 50 different grapes varieties.
The vineyards are located about 45 minutes from downtown, but there are several wineries and tasting rooms in town. And while the weather up in Napa can get a little dreary in the winter, Santa Barbara has an average high hovering around 70℉ year-round. This means when many of the other top regions in the country are experiencing constant rain or even snow, Santa Barbara County visitors can sit out and enjoy local wine
If you're looking for things to do when you're not sipping wine, the obvious attraction is the beach. Other things to do include cycling, shopping, and the Santa Barbara Zoo. Be sure to check out the food offerings and try some of Santa Barbara's delicious fresh seafood.
Finger Lakes, New York
Recently, we called the Finger Lakes region one of the up and coming wine regions in the world, and man has it lived up to its expectations. USA Today readers named Finger Lake the top wine region in the United States in 2018. The region boasts over 120 wineries and is known for its crisp whites.
The region began growing grapes in the early 1800s, but it wasn't until the 1980s that people really had any idea that Finger Lakes produced great wine. That's because growers weren't able to sell their wine to the public until the state passed the New York Farm Winery Act of 1976. Ever since, Finger Lakes has increasingly been gaining attention.
In addition to their growing wine scene, the region also has many other cultural and culinary activities for visitors. In the winter, tourists can enjoy skiing and snowshoeing, not to mention pretty epic holiday shopping. During the summer months, the lakes and trails make a great way to spend the day before unwinding with a glass of wine. While you're there, don't forget to check out Finger Lakes craft beer selection as well. The region has over 80 breweries, distilleries, and cideries to pair with some amazing food.