Prepare to be inspired and amazed by the beauty of the American wine regions, where each glass of wine has a story, and each bottle has its own flavour.
You’ll be happy to know that you don’t need to travel to Europe to meander along picturesque roads, crossing magnificent vineyards, and tasting wonderful vintages. The US is home to some of the best wine trails in the world, from the hills of California to the Arizona desert and the Colorado mountains.
To help plan your next vacation, here is a selection of sightseeing tours that will allow you to discover the wine-making regions as well as learn more about their history and way of life.
Sonoma and Napa Valley, California
The moment you think of “USA” and "wine," what first comes to mind is probably an image of California. According to the Gold Medal Wine Club, California accounts for nearly 90% of the entire American wine production. To put this into perspective, if California were a separate country, it would be the 4th largest producer in the world.
While Napa Valley in California is undoubtedly the most famous wine region in the US, don’t limit yourself to this one area. Add a visit to neighbouring Sonoma County to round out an itinerary in this beautiful part of the country, which is home to world-famous wine estates and small family cellars passed down through the generations.
Here’s a loop itinerary starting in San Francisco for visiting Sonoma and Napa Valley:
- Start your adventure at the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, providing you with a magnificent view of San Francisco while you cross the famous bridge and set off on your adventure to the vineyards of Sonoma via US 101, then Route 37 and Route 121.
- Once you arrive in Sonoma County, stop at a few of the 425 wineries. Some not to be missed are Viansa, for a panoramic view of the region and Buena Vista Winery, the oldest winery in California, established in 1857.
- Travel along Route 12 or small country roads to reach Napa Valley. Napa Valley is home to over 400 wine estates and 90 tasting rooms. With its year-round mild climate, you will quickly understand why this valley has become a must-see destination in the US.
- Take Route 29, then Interstate 80, to return to San Francisco and complete the loop.
Willamette Valley, Oregon
With over 500 wineries, the Willamette Valley is a wine-lovers delight in Oregon! This verdant wine trail is the perfect mix of adventure and discovery.
Travel along Interstate 5 and start your exploration of the wineries. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are the dominant wines. Most of the trail can be travelled in two hours, but plan on staying a few days to fully appreciate the 150 miles (240 km) of this route.
Verde Valley, Arizona
You might be surprised to find a wine region in Arizona, but the climate is perfect for cultivating vines. The Verde Valley Wine Trail is incredibly varied, both in terms of its landscapes and its experiences.
Some two hours north of Phoenix, this region mainly has wineries on the outskirts of its cities, such as Jerome, Sedona, Cottonwood, Cornville and Clarkdale. Discover over 25 wineries travelling along 30 miles (48 km) of Highway 89A. On the Verde Valley Wine Trail website, you can print a map or download an app to discover the region’s best attractions at your own pace.
Washington Wine Country
Explore Washington State’s famous Wine Country and its exquisite panoramas. With 240 wineries, Washington Wine Country is home to some of the most renowned American Viticultural Areas (AVA), such as Columbia Valley, Red Mountain, Walla Walla Valley, Naches Heights, Yakima Valley, Horse Heaven Hills, Snipes Mountain, and Rattlesnake Hills.
This region, which enjoys 300 days of sunshine a year, remains convivial and unpretentious, with a scattering of charming, picturesque and authentic villages.
Finger Lakes, New York
To the south of Lake Ontario, you’ll be delighted to discover over 130 wine estates, many of which specialize in the production of Riesling and Cabernet.
The Finger Lakes region is known for its enchanting and serene rural landscapes. Travel along one of the three itineraries that allow you to visit the region at your own pace: Cayuga Lake Wine Trail, Keuka Lake Wine Trail and Seneca Lake Wine Trail.
Texas Hill Country Wine Trail, Texas
Texas wineries are booming, offering a variety of wines that rival those from California and Washington. From Austin to Fredericksburg and Lampasas to New Braunfels, the Texas Hill Country Wineries include over 50 wineries in the Texas Hill Country and are renowned for their unique high-quality wines.
Grand Junction, Colorado
Enter into an unforgettable agricultural paradise by visiting Grand Junction, also known as “Colorado's Wine Country.” Since the end of the 1800s, this region has been a hub for fruit production in the state of Colorado.
Surrounded by red rocky cliffs to the west and the Rocky Mountains to the east, Grand Junction is nestled in the magnificent Grand Valley. You will find over 24 wineries with their own tasting rooms, open year-round, whatever the season or weather! Get around using the shuttle service or your own car. You can also travel by bicycle through the acres of verdant vineyards.
The trail can be covered in as little as two hours, or you can spend the whole day! You will discover rustic barns transformed into wineries as well as modern vineyards offering breathtaking views of the wide open spaces.
These wine trails are an excellent way to tickle your taste buds while travelling. Be it by bicycle or by car, absorb the local atmosphere and take your time to savour each moment!
Always take the necessary precautions to avoid driving under the influence at all costs. Be prepared and book a transport service in advance if necessary. Also, contact a soNomad agent to find the best travel insurance before your departure!