By Noreen Kompanik~
Galileo once said, “Wine is sunlight, held together by water.”
While wine lovers know that Napa and Sonoma are spectacularly well-known wine regions, these are not the only places with award-winning wines. Unexpected destinations, like the Texas Hill Country and Paso Robles, CA, have become some of our favorites as well.
In addition to great wine, they offer stunning views; quaint, cozy towns; and friendly, engaging winemakers. These destinations also make fun potential road trips!
Paso Robles, California
Paso Robles is one of California’s best-kept secrets. Located on California’s Central Coast, it is one of today’s hottest U.S. wine regions, offering 250-plus picturesque wineries with more than 60 grape varietals. Surrounded by rolling hills, hot springs, olive oil farms, and a cute town, Paso Robles is a hidden gem amongst the California wine regions.
Willamette Valley, Oregon
From historic towns to quirky villages, farm stands, and craft breweries, Willamette Valley is most well-known for its world-class Pinot Noir, which thrives in the region’s maritime climate.
Home to more than 500 wineries, the lush Pacific Northwest region is just 13 miles from Portland. Surrounded by mountains, waterfalls, forests, and farms, it is scenic and beautiful.
Shenandoah Valley, Virginia
The combination of fertile soil and a warm growing season allows the Shenandoah Valley to produce an abundance of grape varietals, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, and Viognier.
Tucked between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Alleghenies, the scenic pastoral valley boasts Civil War battlefields and fascinating caverns in addition to the exciting wineries dotting its verdant landscape.
Texas Hill Country
The Texas Hill Country is the fourth-largest American Viticultural Area in the United States.
Each of the 50+ wineries, scattered from Austin to Fredericksburg and Lampasas to New Braunfels, has its own personality, terroir, and winemaking style. Notable varieties include Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and Chardonnay. With its storybook farms and old-fashioned main streets, the natural beauty and laid-back nature of the region make it a perfect winetasting getaway.
Temecula Valley, California
Despite its central location, Temecula wine country’s spectacular mountain ranges, panoramic views, and charming historic town makes it feel worlds away from So-Cal’s urban life.
With cooling mists drifting in from the Pacific and sunshine an average of 276 days a year, Temecula is a perfect region to grow grapes. The 40-plus wineries are lovingly maintained and produce more than 50 wine varietals. Temecula’s award-winning wines run the gamut from sparkling whites to bold reds. Hot air ballooning over the bucolic vineyards is a must-do experience.
Blessed with so many magnificent wine regions here in the U.S., it’s nice to sit a spell and drink in these unexpected destinations.