7 “Hidden Gem” Regions with the Best Vineyards in the U.S.

Feel like you’ve arrived in Napa Valley with a trip to one of these seven wine regions

 

If you think the best vineyards in America are only found in California, we’ve got news for you: Not only are there wineries in all 50 states, but some of the best wine destinations in the U.S. aren’t even on the West Coast! From the deserts of Arizona to the mountains of North Carolina, there’s more delicious diversity in American wine than you may think.


1. Try French wines in the foothills of Boise, Idaho

When most people think of wine from the Pacific Northwest, they imagine Washington and Oregon. But visitors should also consider Idaho, where the varied climate and topography make it one of the best wine regions in the U.S. The Eagle Foothills, part of Sawtooth Range, is particularly well-suited to Rhone and Bordeaux wines, including Syrah and cabernet. 3 Horse Ranch Vineyards, one of the largest wine producers in the state, offers a peaceful, country atmosphere just outside the city. For varietals like Malbec and Carménère, which typically grow well in the high altitudes of South America, you’ll want to head a little farther north to the Lewis-Clark Valley on the Washington border.


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2. Sip on Sangiovese and Syrah in Sedona, Arizona

If you love Italian reds, like Sangiovese, or Rhone Valley varietals, like Syrah and Grenache, but don’t have the budget for an overseas vacation, Arizona is a perfect alternative as one of the best wine destinations in the U.S. The hot days and cool nights mean those grapes grow particularly well in the vineyards of the Verde Valley, a winemaking region near Sedona sought out by wine lovers looking for something off the beaten path. Or, if you’re near Prescott, stop by Superstition Meadery; their honey wine took home four gold medals at the 2016 Mazer Cup, an international mead competition. Arizona wineries are also becoming known for their surprisingly delicious sparkling wines, so if you have something to celebrate, these might be some of the best vineyards to visit.


3. Taste the wine of abundant sunshine in Grand Junction, Colorado

With its dependable sunlight and high terrain, western Colorado makes an ideal spot for grape-growing and delicious wine. Follow one of the many wine trails through the beautiful vineyards in Colorado, all set against dramatic mountain backdrops. You’ll especially want to stop in Grand Junction, where you’ll find Grand Valley wineries like Two Rivers, which offers a full-bodied Chardonnay and a fruity Merlot to compete with the best of Napa Valley. Also in Grand Junction is the laid-back, award-winning Whitewater Hill, which has an outstanding dessert ice wine made from grapes frozen on the vine. While you’re exploring Colorado wineries, it could be worth the trip to head east to the plains, where you’ll find local varietals like Marquette and fruit wines.


4. Connect with centuries of tradition in Las Cruces, New Mexico

Winemaking has been a New Mexico tradition for more than 500 years, since Spanish priests planted the region’s first wine grapes. Today, there are more than 50 wineries throughout the state, many of them clustered along the riverbanks of the Rio Grande. The region’s intense sun and dry climate make for complex, powerful wines that hold up well to food. Las Cruces is home to plenty of things to do and see, including the quaint Amaro Winery. Its tasting room hosts live music and local events alongside their selection of champion wines from the surrounding Mesilla Valley region.


5. Follow the aromas of Old Europe in St. Louis, Missouri

Missouri wine has a long history, dating back to when German immigrants first settled in the area over a century ago. They planted the first European vines in the area, which led to some calling it the “American Rhine.” Since then, Missouri wineries and vineyards have flourished. In addition to the Franco-American hybrids like Vignoles, you’ll also find wine made from native American grapes, including concord and catawba. Visiting one of the many Missouri wine trails will take you through both family-run Missouri wineries, like Augusta Winery, and large commercial vineyards, like Balducci, so there’s sure to be something to please every palate.


6. Explore the pours of the peninsula in Traverse City, Michigan

Michigan’s warm, humid summers and cold winters make it surprisingly similar to some parts of Europe, so when you’re looking for some of the best vineyards in America, it deserves a spot on your list. In the northern part of the state, just above Traverse City, you’ll find the Old Mission Peninsula, situated on the famed 45th parallel––the ideal location for wine grapes. There, inviting wineries like Bowers Harbor and Hawthorne Vineyards grow Old World varietals like Riesling, pinot noir, merlot and more, many of which have been internationally recognized for their excellence. Ice wines are also a specialty of the region.


7. Indulge in big reds and big grapes in Asheville, North Carolina

You might know Asheville as an artsy, up-and-coming city with plenty of fun things to do, but did you know that it also sits next to some of the most interesting vineyards in the U.S.? The warm climate makes for big, bold reds, and many of the local vineyards, such as those of Biltmore Estate, specialize in blends of Old World varietals, like cabernet sauvignon and merlot. Check out plēb urban winery, which offers local wines produced on-site in their hip, mural-filled tasting room in the River Arts District. The Yadkin Valley wine trail, located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, also produces plenty of bottles you’ll recognize, as well as wine made from local muscadine grapes.

So if you’re looking for the best wineries in America, rest assured that California wine country is not your only option. Whatever your taste, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to explore from sea to shining sea.

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