Charter a Private Jet to America’s Top Wine Tours
From the world-renowned wine trails of Napa Valley to the new Bordeaux being produced in Idaho, America is filled with wine country so diverse it could make a dedicated oenophile forget the words “Old World.”
For seasoned and novice wine enthusiasts alike, a sojourn into wine country is a chance to swill the wines, sample the cuisine and explore a new region of America. Because if there’s a better way to get to know a destination than by tasting your way through it, we haven’t found it yet.
We’ve assembled a list of the top ten wine tours worth flying for.
Central Region, New Mexico
Nearest Airport:Albuquerque International Sunport
It may come as a surprise that the first wine country in the United States isn’t in California: it’s in New Mexico. The history dates back 400 years, starting with the mission grapes brought over by Spanish Colonists. Now, the Central Region that surrounds Albuquerque is home to some of the state’s most sophisticated wineries, including Casa Rondena in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, an award-winning winery known for its red varietals.
Photo credit: Jeremy Wade Shockley
Finger Lakes, New York
Nearest Airport:Elmira Corning Regional Airport
Home to nearly 100 wineries, Finger Lakes Wine Country in New York is the East Coast’s answer to Napa Valley. The region specializes in aromatic whites, including some of the best Riesling and Gewurztraminer in the country, and has recently found success in cool-climate reds including Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir. The best tasting rooms in the region are rustic but refined, with excellent restaurants and idyllic scenery.
Courtesy of Pleasant Valley Wine Company
Grand Junction, Colorado
Nearest Airport:Grand Junction Regional Airport
With excellent soil and a temperate climate combining to produce quality grapes, Colorado’s Grand Valley is “Colorado’s Wine Country.” Visitors can explore traditional vineyards, boutique wineries and tasting rooms by car, limo or bicycle. Most Grand Valley wineries have tours or tasting rooms where visitors can taste the range of wines produced by a particular winery and gain an education in the science and art of wine production. The Grand Valley is home to more than 20 wineries and vineyards that serve up some of Colorado’s best wines, toast the best that Colorado wineries have to offer.
Photo credit: Grand Junction Visitor & Convention Bureau
Loudoun County, Virginia
Nearest Airport:Leesburg Executive Airport
Loudoun County, known as “Washington, D.C.’s wine country” is home to more than 40 wineries scattered amongst the bucolic rolling hills of northern Virginia. The wineries – which range from cozy renovated barns to Mediterranean-style affairs – are set in six clusters that make for convenient exploring, whether you have one day or an entire week. The region produces interesting varietals including Viognier and Cab Franc.
Photo credit: Visit Loudoun
Monterey County, California
Nearest Airport:Monterey Regional Airport
While not as instantly recognizable as its famous neighbors, Monterey County is rising as one of California’s most exciting wine regions, with excellent restaurants and luxurious hotels. Just south of Silicon Valley, the county is home to spectacular scenery with a range of climates and terrains, lending itself well to a wide variety of grapes. The cooler northern area grows Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc, and the warmer south produces Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Zinfandel.
Photo credit: Monterey County Wines
Napa Valley, California
Nearest Airport:Napa County Airport
Napa Valley hardly requires an introduction. Renowned for its world-class wines, innovative cuisine and impeccably-designed hotels and tasting rooms, Napa Valley is a must, for wine connoisseurs travelling through the US. The region is home to over 400 wineries that produce buttery Chardonnays, exceptional Cabernets and distinctive Zinfandels. Napa Valley has four main cities worth exploring – Napa, Yountville, St. Helena and Calistoga – so a return trip may be in order before you even leave.
Santa Barbara, California
Nearest Airport:Santa Barbara Municipal Airport
At once sophisticated and laid back, beachfront Santa Barbara is an ideal destination for an oenophile’s weekend getaway. Home to some of the most impressive terrain in the country, Santa Barbara produces more than 50 varieties of grapes. Among the best wineries in Santa Barbara is Foxen, with a hacienda-style tasting room with views to the countryside and an excellent Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc.
Courtesy of Foxen Vineyard
Snake River Valley, Idaho
Nearest Airport: Boise Airport
For those seeking to get off the beaten trail, Snake River Valley is as unexpected as you can get. Running from northeastern Oregon to southwestern Idaho, the Snake River Valley is a young, exciting and scenic wine region that is home to award-winning wineries and an increasing number of excellent restaurants. When not tasting Chardonnays and Viogniers, outdoorsy types will love the region’s easy access to mountain biking, hiking and whitewater rafting on the Snake River.
Photo credit: Idaho Wines
Sonoma Valley, California
Nearest Airport:Sonoma County Airport
Sonoma Valley offers a more laid back – but no less refined – experience than its glitzy neighbor, Napa Valley. The valley is scattered with over 100 rolling vineyards and wineries set in garden chateaux and Mediterranean villas. Historic Sonoma Plaza offers a number of excellent tasting rooms and restaurants in a charming, walkable setting. The region is best known for its Pinot Noirs and Zinfandels.
Photo credit: Sonoma Valley Wines
Walla Walla Valley, Washington
Nearest Airport:Walla Walla Regional Airport
Walla Walla Valley is a verdant oasis surrounded by sagebrush desert. The valley – best known for its Bordeaux varietals – represents some of the most exceptional wine in the Pacific Northwest, and yet remains something of a hidden gem. Dedicated oenophiles make the trip to taste Syrahs and Cabernet Sauvignons at the 120+ wineries, visit refined galleries and stay in tasteful inns.
Photo credit: WWVWA/Richard Duval