These days, international travel is becoming more difficult, and that might be one of the bigger understatements you’ll hear today. Some of the reasons are pretty obvious. Lockdowns, flight restrictions, closures, and all the rules that go along with a global pandemic. Figuring out which rules are adopted by some countries and not by others. Logistically, traveling internationally for a vacation is completely off the table for many couples and families nowadays.
While a trip to Tuscany or Southern France to visit the most prestigious wineries might be off the table for a while, there are dozens of lesser-known wineries that make outstanding travel destinations. And you might discover some of them are less than a day’s drive away.
One of the most fascinating wineries in the United States is found just a short plane ride from almost every major city on the east coast. The Biltmore Winery, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, North Carolina, features 20 different blends of wine produced on the property. Guests can enjoy an exclusive “vine to wine vineyard tour & tasting,” which showcases a behind the scenes view at wine production at The Biltmore.
George Vanderbilt was a world traveler and a well-known collector of books, furniture, art, and sculptures. He also enjoyed bringing cases of wine back to his Biltmore residence to share with friends and family. Vanderbilt’s grandson, William Cecil, planted the first vines at the estate in the 1970s, and a few years later hired their first Winemaster for the property, Philippe Jourdain. Not long after that, the Biltmore Estate Wine Company was incorporated and opened to the public in 1985.
The Biltmore Winery is located on the grounds of the largest private residence in the country. The Vanderbilt family began building the Biltmore in 1889 after visiting the Asheville area and being captivated by the landscape. The 178,000 square foot home is now open for tours, where over a million people a year visit.
Most people might not think of Southern California as a wine destination. Still, if you’re one of the 25 million people already living there, you might want to consider a trip to the Temecula Wineries. About an hour’s drive from San Diego or Orange County, the Temecula Wineries offer over 50 different wine varieties. From Chardonnay to Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc to Mourvedre, the Temecula Valley includes bed and breakfasts, resorts, winery restaurants, and many picnic grounds.
Wilson Creek Winery, one of the most popular vineyards in the valley, opened in 1998 by Gus Vizgirda and now produces 30,000 cases per year. With 40,000 square feet of event center amenities, a tasting room that is open daily, and a creekside restaurant, Wilson Creek is a must-see Temecula winery.
With its Mediterranean climate, the region is well-suited for growing French, Italian, and Spanish grapes. Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc, and Riesling all thrive in the Temecula Valley.
The first Temecula winery was planted in 1968 by Vincenzo Cilurzo. Now, Temecula Valley includes over 40 wineries producing more than 500,000 cases per year. The region has experienced enormous growth in its wineries over the last several decades. The valley includes the cities of Murrieta, Wildomar, and Temecula. There’s a wide range of activities to include with your winery tours, including hot air balloon rides, the historic Old Town, and the Pechanga Resort Casino, the largest casino in California.
Finger Lakes Wineries
Over 100 wineries, breweries, and distilleries can be found in the Finger Lakes area, just a four-hour drive north from New York City. The area focuses on Riesling and Gewurztraminer and cool-climate red wine such as Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc. Some of the most popular wineries in the region are Silver Springs Winery, Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard, Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars, and Keuka Springs Vineyards.
The Finger Lakes region is a group of eleven narrow, long, and rough lakes. Some of the deepest lakes in the United States are included in this area, with depths over 600 feet. The deep lakes retain warmth from the summer months and help moderate temperatures through the seasons, protecting the grapes from dangerous spring frosts.
About halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, you will find Paso Robles. More than 200 wineries over 32,000 acres make their home in this hot spot for Zinfandels, Cabernet Sauvignons, Rhone Blends, and other non-traditional blends.
The town of El Paso de Robles, founded by a Kentucky outlaw who happened to be the uncle of Frank and Jesse James. The area is known as the “wild west of California wine.” It’s recently been known as one of the fastest-growing wine areas of the last few decades, with the number of wineries growing from 50 to over 200 currently.
Georges and Daniel Daou are creators of Daou Winery located in Paso Robles. The brothers grew up in Lebanon, and after a missile nearly destroyed their home at the beginning of the Lebanese civil war, the Daou family moved to France. In France, the brothers were introduced to the wine business, and after moving to California to attend college, they began dreaming of someday producing wine of their own.
The dream became a reality when the brothers sold their technology company and set their sights on a property located in Paso Robles where Daou Winery was born.
Between Manhattan and Philadelphia lies Laurita Winery, located in the Outer Coastal Plain American Viticultural Area in New Jersey. Laurita Winery produces about 16,000 cases per year on 40 acres of vineyards and 200 acres of woodlands and meadows.
There are so many great wineries for wine collectors and investors to visit beyond the Northern California wine country that we all recognize. Take some time to explore a local winery near you, and support these great establishments.