For those of us who love wine and wine travel, discovering a great new vintage is tremendously rewarding. And while many wine regions in California, Washington, and Oregon are well known, there are a growing number of under the radar areas with a thriving wine culture. Let’s explore three blossoming new U.S. wine trails…
U.S. Wine Travel: It’s Not Just California Any More
With over 6000 wineries scattered across the country, wine is big business in the United States. And while most wine lovers are well acquainted with California vintages, the fact is the great majority of U.S. wineries are far from the west coast.
In the last five years, dozens of wine trails have blossomed in areas you wouldn’t normally associate with grape growing. Some of these regions have produced wine for generations, but are just now becoming mainstream. Others are just now taking advantage of beneficial microclimates to produce unique grape varietals and award winning wines.
Here are three under the radar wine regions you’ll want to know…
Minnesota: The Three Rivers Wine Trail
Grape growing in Minnesota? You bet. In the eastern part of the state, river valleys create ideal climates for growing new hardy grape specimens that have Minnesota’s wine scene making a name for itself.
The Three Rivers Wine Trail is tucked just east of the Twin Cities, encompassing historic river towns like Stillwater and Red Wing. The five wineries on the trail are a total distance of about 90 miles apart, making this an easy two day jaunt.
Native grapes are used to craft spicy, bold reds and crisp whites that are earning praise from wine critics and national publications. The area itself is especially beautiful in the fall, when autumn colors arrive in a blaze of glory.
Eastern Connecticut Wine Trail
You might be surprised to know that Connecticut has not one but two wine trails. This small state has over a dozen wineries, from small farm operations to larger firms producing thousands of cases annually.
Connecticut’s climate is tempered by the Atlantic Ocean, and its varied topography creates small microclimates where grapes thrive. Expect to see numerous crisp white wines, particularly chardonnays and rieslings.
The scenery on both of the state’s wine trails is spectacular, a mix of rugged coastal features and rolling farm land. Antique and specialty shopping is popular along the way, as is a visit to Mystic along the coast, with the town’s unique harborfront.
Missouri: America’s First Wine District
About an hour west of St. Louis, a strong German influence in the small town of Hermann carries on a 150 year old wine making tradition. This part of Missouri is well known for outdoor activities like biking and hiking along with the dozen or so wineries that thrive here.
Missouri is best known for deep and bold red wines, like Nortons and Chambourcins. The history of wine making is well established, and actually predates the California wine industry by several decades.
Numerous events and festivals are held along the Hermann Wine Trail throughout the year, making it an ideal weekend excursion or combined with a visit to St. Louis.
In the last ten years, dozens of new wine trails have sprung up in areas not normally associated with wine making. Much of the fun of wine travel is learning about these unique areas and the vintages they produce. With over 100 wine trails in the United States, you’re sure to find one within a half day drive of wherever you live. best willamette valley wine tours