As much as I love a good overseas wine vacation, some of the best wine-tasting experiences I’ve ever had have been right here, in the U.S.
If you’re a wine lover looking for a world-class destination to visit and explore local wines, the United States is an excellent choice. With achingly beautiful landscapes ranging from the sun-soaked slopes of Napa Valley to the lush vineyards of Virginia stretching far into the distance, there are dozens of world-class tasting rooms offering incredible experiences for any wine enthusiast.
Whether you’re looking for world-renowned varietals or unique small-batch wines perfect for a special occasion, you can find them all in outstanding quality in U.S. vineyards. Couple this with countless attractions catering to wine tourists, and it is no wonder why more and more wine lovers visit the United States each year.
Today, I am sharing a round-up of the best U.S. wine vacations you should consider for 2023 and beyond.
P.S. — as much as I love Napa, if you’re reading this article, I’m sure you’re very well aware of this destination. In today’s post, I aim to share some regions that may not have been on your radar!
Ten Best U.S. Wine Vacations
Paso Robles is one of my favorite regions to go wine tasting in California. Located in Central California, its climate makes it ideal for grape growing: it has hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. This region is home to more than 200 wineries, and you can enjoy more than 60 varietals here.
Several types of varietals are grown here, but Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Merlot, Syrah, and Chardonnay thrive in this region. Some of my favorite vineyards to check out in this region include Law Estate (reservation required), Linne Calado, and L’Aventure Winery.
Paso Robles is about 3 hours north of Los Angeles and 3 hours south of San Francisco. If you’re flying, the San Louis Obispo airport would be the closest, but you can also opt for the San Jose and San Francisco airports and drive down.
Best Time to Visit: Spring and Autumn — but I wouldn’t completely rule out the off-season. Summers tend to get very hot (100+ degrees), but you can enjoy indoor tasting rooms with A.C. Winters are cool and wet but doable.
I recently had the opportunity to visit Walla Walla for the first time last fall, and let me tell you: I was blown away by the selection and the quality of wine here.
Walla Walla is home to more than 120 wineries, and you can find many different varietals grown here — though they’re known for their Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec.
Walla Walla is located in the Southeastern part of Washington State. You can view my complete travel guide for more Walla Walla recommendations and detailed info here.
Best Time to Visit: May-October is recommended. Off-season, you might encounter rain and snow.
Texas Hill Country
We’ve visited Texas Hill Country many times over the past five years, and it’s exciting to see this up-and-coming wine region grow and flourish.
If you’re visiting Austin or San Antonio in the near future, take a day to explore all Texas Hill Country offers. Italian varietals thrive in this climate, but you can find almost any wine you fancy here.
You can read my blog post here for more Texas Hill Country recommendations.
Best Time to Visit: Spring and Autumn. Unless you can handle the Texas heat in the summer!
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that Charlottesville, Virginia has a special place in my heart. It’s where I learned to love and appreciate wine, and I loved that I could go wine tasting in a laid-back environment and learn so much about wine through tours and tastings.
You can find many different varietals here, but the region is known for Viognier and Cabernet Franc. French varietals thrive in this somewhat unpredictable climate.
For more detailed info about Charlottesville, don’t miss my travel guide!
Best Time to Visit: April-November. Summers get humid & hot but are doable! Avoid the University of Virginia’s graduation weekend if you can — hotels and rentals will be booked solid.
Sonoma is an incredible region with incredible dining options, great wine, and picturesque views. In my opinion, it’s a bit more relaxed and approachable than Napa, which is why I adore it.
The varietals you’ll typically find in Sonoma are Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, and Syrah.
One region that I adore in Sonoma is the Dry Creek Valley. You can learn more about this area in my travel guide.
Best Time to Visit: May-October, though you can find some incredible hotel deals and enjoy less crowded tasting rooms in the off-season.
Did you know that the Livermore Valley is one of the oldest wine regions in the U.S.? Before Prohibition, it was a thriving viticultural area producing some of the best wines in the world.
Today, the Livermore Valley is the only wine region in the Bay Area that you can access via the BART train, making it a great option if you’re visiting San Francisco. This area is known for its premium wines, and the varietals you can find here include Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and more.
Want to learn more about Livermore Valley? Don’t miss my travel guide!
Best Time to Visit: May-October
Willamette Valley needs to be on your list if you’re a Pinot Noir lover. Located in Oregon, this region remarkably has over 700 wineries and is regarded as the premier Pinot Noir producing areas in the world.
Admittedly, I haven’t visited this region just yet, but it is on my list for 2023. I can’t wait to report back and share more of my thoughts!
Best Time to Visit: May-October. September & October if you’re hoping to go leaf-peeping.
Santa Ynez Valley
The Santa Ynez Valley is one of the most breathtaking wine regions I’ve ever visited. Located right outside Santa Barbara in California, you can enjoy varietals like Pinot Noir Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Roussanne, and Viognier in this acclaimed region.
As far as climate goes, it’s pretty ideal here — the hottest months are July-September, where you can find temperatures spike to the 90s, but in the winter, it still reaches the high 60s in the day. You might see rain in December & January, but really, you can enjoy the Santa Ynez Valley at any point in the year.
My favorite wineries in this region include Presqu’ile Winery, Zaca Mesa Winery, Alma Rosa Winery, and Dierberg Vineyard.
Best Time to Visit: February-November. Really, almost any time of year, but be cautious during the rainy season, as the area is prone to mudslides.
The Finger Lakes has been on my list for years now, and I’m finally going to cross this off in 2023. While I haven’t visited just yet, I’m happy to report back after I make it happen!
The Finger Lakes are located in upstate New York and is home to over 140 wineries. Most of these wineries are near the Cayuga, Keuka, and Seneca Lakes. You can also enjoy breathtaking hikes and world-class dining in this region.
Regarding varietals, you’ll typically find Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Franc in this region. However, this will be your go-to region if you’re looking for aromatic white wines.
Best Time to Visit: Memorial Day-Labor Day.
North & Central Arizona Wine Country
One wine region that was a pleasant surprise? Arizona. Before visiting Sedona, we stopped by the Verde Valley for wine tasting and were incredibly impressed.
You might not believe me, but technically a celebrity-owned wine label was the highlight of our trip. Caduceus Cellars is owned by the lead singer of Tool, who happens to come from a family of winemakers. And let me tell you: this was one of the best U.S. bottles of wine I’ve ever had. I cannot wait for my next visit!
Some other wineries to visit in this area include Four Eight Wineworks, Cabal Cellars, and Burning Tree Cellars.
Best Time to Visit: October-November, March-May. Summers can get hot here, but you can enjoy smaller crowds if you can handle the heat!
Have you visited any of these wine regions listed? Let me know in the comments below!
Photos by Tom McGovern
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