The Best U.S. Wine Regions Beyond Napa Valley

TH Estate Wines (Terry Hoage) in Paso Robles, CA

Oenophiles rejoice! The U.S. packs a punch when it comes to top-notch red, white, and rosé. And while Napa Valley may be the most prominent domestic wine destination, it’s far from the only spot worth visiting. So what are the best U.S. wine regions?

These days, you can find high-quality vino all across the country, everywhere from Willamette Valley and Paso Robles to Texas Hill Country and the Finger Lakes, which means a taste bud-tantalizing glass is probably closer than you think. Ready to sip and savor all that our great nation has to offer? Plan a trip to these flourishing viticultural regions.

Sonoma, California

Looking for a laid-back alternative to the Vegas-like pageantry of Napa Valley? Sonoma is renowned for its relaxed atmosphere, diverse viticulture, and world-class wine. Stretching from the Pacific Coast to the Mayacamas Mountains, it touts 17 distinct appellations, 60,000 acres of vineyards, upwards of 400 wineries, and a dazzling variety of vino, from oaky Chardonnay and bright Sauvignon Blanc to beautifully balanced Pinot Noirs and full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon. New-wave oenophiles will want to hit up Scribe Winery for sustainable, terroir-driven sippers, and Horse & Plow impresses with its organic, biodynamic bottles.

Getty Images

Willamette Valley, Oregon

Willamette Valley sits on the same latitude as Bordeaux and, like its French counterpart, has established itself as one of the top Pinot Noir producers on the planet. It’s also recognized for its Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Gris. This scenic area is less than an hour drive from Portland, making it an easy day trip—although we’d suggest giving yourself a full weekend. Situated in McMinnville, the epicenter of Willamette Valley, the Atticus Hotel is an ideal home base from which to explore the more than 550 local wineries. Imbibe in bubbly at R. Stuart & Co. or cozy up with a glass of vino in front of an outdoor fireplace at Vista Hills Vineyard.

Janis Miglavs

Texas Hill Country, Texas

Everything’s bigger in the Lone Star State, including it's premier wine-producing region. Spanning an astounding nine million acres west of Austin and north of San Antonio, Texas Hill Country is the second largest AVA in the nation. It's warm, dry climate makes it a haven for heat-loving varietals. Treat your palate to big, bold Cabernet Sauvignon at Becker Vineyards. Make your way to Granite Hill Vineyards for mega-delicious Merlot, and taste robust Tannat (the national grape of Uruguay) at William Chris Vineyards. After a long day of tours and tasting, retire to the luxury of La Cantera Resort & Spa to watch the spectacular sunset from the gorgeous infinity pool.

Peary Photography

Walla Walla Valley, Washington

Walla Walla Valley was an early leader in Washington wine and its viticulture scene continues to flourish. Its sunny climate, fertile soil, and 200-day-long growing season makes it particularly attractive to vintners. Today, the area is home to the highest concentration of wineries in the state, ranging from venerable vintners such as Leonetti Cellar, Woodward Canyon, and L'Ecole No 41 to exciting newcomers. Red remains supreme in this region; Cabernet Sauvignon is the most widely planted grape, followed by Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec.

©Colby D. Kuschatka, 2015.

Finger Lakes, New York

The Finger Lakes in west-central New York is famed for its world-class Riesling (and, yes, it’s every bit as good as people say). You’ll also find fabulous Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer. Endeavoring to visit the some 100 wineries in a single weekend is beyond ambitious (it’s impossible), so best to come up with a game plan. Our advice: start your vinous adventure at Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery, the birthplace of East Coast winemaking, before venturing to Fox Run Vineyards and Ravines Wine Cellars. Wondering where to stay? Select rooms at the Inn at Glenora Wine Cellars flaunt views of the vine and lake, patios, whirlpool tubs, and fireplaces.

Courtesy of Finger Lakes Wine Country

Paso Robles, California

Paso Robles has a lot to offer oenophiles. Located halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, this idyllic destination is full of verdant vineyards, picturesque estates, and wonderful wineries. Cabernet Sauvignon is the star, but it’s not the only thing to drink. Paso Robles also boasts excellent Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel, and white Rhône-style blends. And because it’s still fairly under-the-radar, you can score an affordable bottle. Stock up at Ecluse Wines and head to Sculpterra for an afternoon of sipping vino and gawking at the glorious sculpture gardens.

Chris Leschinsky

Related Stories