Wine travel doesn’t have to high-brow (or extremely expensive) in order for it to be awesome. Case in point: here are 4 US wine travel spots where you can find cheap hotels, cheap tastings, small communities, and a host of other activities to enjoy. Use these recommendations to inspire your own wine-cation this year… or maybe just relocate to a wine region and never leave.
Lompoc Santa Barbara County, CA
Post-punk wine surfing in SoCal…
The Plan: Surf until midday and afterward you can forage for wine, burgers, and locals at the Lompoc Wine Ghetto.
Lompoc is one of the last-standing backwoods Southern California beach destinations and it happens to be right next to one of the highest rated Pinot Noir (and Chardonnay) growing regions in the world (that’d be Sta Rita Hills). By the way, a little inland of the beach you’ll find fantastic Syrah and a few hipster alt-varieties that will make your mouth water (Terret Noir or Grüner V. anyone?). Last time we hit the ‘Poc was on motorcycles–highly recommended if you’ve got an “M” endorsement.
Geneva Finger Lakes, NY
Shockingly cultured and yet delightfully unpretentious.
The Finger Lakes are one of the fastest up-and-coming wine regions on the East Coast. And honestly, it’s also where you’ll want to be if you’re in New York in August (imagine millions of NYC air conditioners humming and dripping on your head). The people we met who’d left the city for #FLX were some of most well-rounded folks you’ll ever meet–shockingly cultured and yet delightfully unpretentious. Also, the produce (tomatoes, cabbage, butter, buckwheat) of upstate New York simply tastes amazing.
El Dorado Sierra Foothills, CA
Where spring breakers get their high-elevation wines…
Most travelers seem to just fly through El Dorado County on a high-speed dash towards Lake Tahoe and Reno, Nevada. However, if you get off the I-80 and wind your way to Pleasant Valley Road, you’ll discover amazing high mountain meadows planted with more than 50 different wine varieties. There’s a particular focus on Northern Rhône varieties including Grenache and Syrah and a few other highlights include Barbera, Zinfandel, and Petite Sirah. The region has an annual event around spring break called Passport Wine Adventures which makes for an amazing combination of wine aficionados and Cal-state students…it’s awesome.
Columbia Gorge Washington/Oregon Border
OMG, did you see that King Bolete!?
If you own a bike, like to do yoga, enjoy meditation in nature, or call yourself a mycologist (omg, did you see that King Bolete!?) this is your wine travel dream come true. Even though there are only a handful of pioneering wineries in the area (and breweries too!), this place has some of the most invigorating outdoors activities you’ll find anywhere including serious road and mountain bike cycling, kite surfing, epic hikes with stunning scenery, and loads of fishing. In terms of wines, we’ve been repeatedly impressed by the Rhône Varieties (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre) as well as white wines from the Klickitat river area.