For most Americans, the quickest way to experience wine country is parked in their driveway.
With bonded wineries in all 50 states, chances are there’s a wine travel destination closer than you realize. Sure, we’d all love to get away to somewhere exotic, but for many of us, that isn’t happening—at least not on a regular basis.
But just because you can’t drop everything and voyage to vinous nirvana for a week, doesn’t mean you can’t experience wine country. According to America’s Wine Trails, a Web site and app, there are more than 270 wine trails in the United States.
From Alabama to Wyoming, almost every state boasts a credible wine trail or association. Add in the burgeoning number of craft brewers and micro-distillers, and any weekend—or even just an afternoon—is an opportunity to drink local.
Here are some oft-overlooked destinations within short drives of major American cities:
Coastal Wine Trail of Southeastern New England: Nine wineries spread across Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
Shawangunk Wine Trail: These 14 wineries lie in New York’s Lower Hudson Valley.
Yadkin Valley Wine Trail: Just over an hour north of Charlotte, North Carolina, are more than 30 vineyards and wineries.
Lake Erie Shores & Islands Wine Trail: More than a dozen Ohio wineries await just west of Cleveland.
Woodinville Wine Country: Only 30 minutes separate these 99 wineries and tasting rooms from downtown
Calle Contento Wine Trail: Six secluded wineries within the Temecula Valley, partway between Los Angeles and San Diego.
So grab some fun-loving friends, anoint one of them the designated driver, fire up the jalopy and head out to discover the world of wine travel that’s just around the corner.
Dos & Don’ts of hitting the road
DON’T expect wineries to roll out the carpet for a busload of tasters without calling ahead.
DO plan in advance. Make sure the places you want to visit are open for tasting.
DON’T treat the outing like a rolling drunk-fest.
DO spit when tasting to avoid excessive alcohol consumption.
DON’T feel like you have to buy wines just because you’re visiting.
DO buy wines that you like, or to express appreciation for a particularly good experience.
DON’T forget to designate a nondrinking driver.
DO consider hiring a limo or other car service instead of driving yourself.