With Spring Break fast approaching, everyone is scrambling to make the most of their vacation from Chicago’s turbulent March weather. It is a lesser known fact that every state in the U.S. now has wineries so chances are (if you’re traveling in the U.S.), there is also a wine visit opportunity in your future.
If you find yourself near Los Angeles or San Diego, keep Temecula in mind. A 90 mile drive from LA or 60 miles from San Diego gets you into Temecula where there are over 40 wineries using 50 different grapes in their wines. Don’t miss Palumbo Family Vineyards and Winery if you go. This boutique and artisanal winery makes only 2500 cases a year and specializes in full-bodied red wines. Their Cabernet Sauvignon is fantastic as are their various red blends. If you have enough time, consider staying over in the luxurious South Coast Winery Resort and Spa. You can pretend you have your own vineyard by booking a room overlooking theirs as well as taste the wines at their award-winning Vineyard Rose Restaurant.
If you find yourself in Albuquerque, New Mexico, don’t miss the Gruet Tasting Room and Winery (they also have a Tasting Room in Santa Fe’s historic Hotel St. Francis). The Gruet family is from France and made Champagne there before starting their winery in New Mexico in 1984. Their vineyards are 170 miles further south at high elevations (4100 plus feet) which allow them to make outstanding Sparkling wine in the same traditional method as Champagne. This means the second fermentation (which makes all the bubbles) is done in the bottle. They also make Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Rosé if you’re not into sparkling wines.
The Texas Hill Country near Austin, Texas offers another great wine diversion. Italian and Spanish varieties thrive in this diverse region, including Sangiovese, Viognier, Tempranillo, and Tannat. With over 50 wineries, there is a lot to see with the Fredericksburg area being the densest in wineries. Just 35 min from Austin, wineries start to pop up and you can easily make a day or weekend of it. Make sure to check out Becker Vineyards and their spectacular lavender fields, Bending Branch, and William Chris Vineyards, which sports a farmhouse tasting room built in 1905. William Chris makes Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, and Mourvèdre among several other wines.
Wine in Mexico? Yes there is and very good wine at that. The Baja wine region starts near Ensenada about 70 miles from the U.S. Border. With over 80 wineries in three regions, this Mediterranean climate produces varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Grenache, Chenin Blanc, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc. Make sure to check out Casa Madero which is the oldest winery in the Americas (built in 1597) as well as Monte Xanic and Casa de Piedra which both produce some of the finest wine in Mexico.