For those of us who love to combine our culinary passions with wanderlust, wine travel is the way to go. And while your mind may flash immediately to destination vineyards in Italy and France, the United States has many unsung wine regions worth exploring. In fact, the U.S. is the leading global consumer of wine and is home to more than 10,000 wineries.
In the last few years, dozens of new wine trails have emerged in areas you might not expect as the country’s appetite for domestic wine increases. While the popularity of these wine trails is relatively new, their wines are not; many of these regions have been producing wine for decades or even centuries.
Want to discover some of these fantastic (and underrated) wine hotspots right in your own backyard? Check out these six U.S. wine regions off the beaten path:
This list first appeared on our sister site, Livability.com. Check out their website to learn more about America’s best places to live.
1. Texas Hill Country
In the 1600s, Franciscan priests established one of America’s first vineyards in Texas. Today, Texas is one of the top 10 wine-producing states in the country and ranks number three for wineries with the most economic impact on the U.S. economy. The Lone Star State is home to eight wine regions and close to 300 wineries. The state’s largest wine-growing region is Hill Country, where the desert-like heat is ideal for growing Syrah and Tempranillo grapes. Texas has eight American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) located across the state, which makes for a rapidly growing wine scene that’s garnering plenty of praise around the world.
See more: Texas Wineries are Vine Ripe
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Hey Everyone! We apologize for the radio silence over the last few months. After MUCH consideration, we have decided to hold off on a Spring 2019 event. This doesn't mean TWR will not happen again nor is the revolution dead!! So stay tuned & keep checking for updates & news. Thank you for the enthusiasm & continuous support! Don't stop drinking that 100% Texas wine ya'll! #drinktexaspink #texaswinerevolution #realtexaswine #texaswine #pausednotdeleted #vivalarevolution
Here’s a fun fact: Missouri is considered America’s first wine region — it predates the California wine industry by decades. German immigrants planted the first vines here in the early 19th century and the Italians soon followed. Before Prohibition, Missouri was the second-largest wine-producing state in the nation, boasting some of the oldest vines in the ground. Wine is literally rooted in the history here and the state produces some impressive varietals. Riesling grows well here, as do French-American hybrids including Chambourcin, Chancellor, and Rougeon for reds and Seyval, Vidal blanc, and Vignoles for whites.
Today, Missouri is home to 134 wineries, including the Adam Puchta Winery in Hermann (established in 1855), the oldest continually owned and operated family winery in the United States. The state produces over 900,000 gallons of wine annually and has a corridor called the Missouri “Rhineland.”
Think Minnesota is too cold to grow grapes? Think again. In fact, river valleys of the state are the perfect spot for cold-hardy hybrids like the Marquette grape, a winter-fighting grape that has Pinot Noir-type characteristics. Also on the vines are Frontenac, Frontenac gris, and La Crescent grapes, producing award-winning wines.
The Skal Crawl trail is credited with being home of Carlos Creek Winery in Alexandria, the first AVA in Minnesota. The Upper St. Croix trail sits along the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway and gives access to five family-owned wineries and picturesque landscapes of the river valley, woodlands and stunning farms. There is also the Great River Road trail making Minnesota an easy destination for a long weekend of wine tasting.
If North Carolina is America’s “little Burgundy,” then Michigan is our very own Bordeaux.
Traverse City is Michigan’s most popular resort town and the place is abuzz with tasting rooms full of tourists in both the summer and fall months. Michigan ranks in the top 10 for U.S. wine grape production. The state bottles around 1.4 million gallons a year across 137 wineries. Although the boom may have started with fruit wines (Welch’s Grape Juice planted the first bunch of vineyards in the state), winemakers and viticulturists are changing that with a roster of impressive wines that rival the state’s stunning scenery.
See more: Michigan Wine Trails