As summer draws to a close, you may find yourself pining for one last escape before getting back to the grind of work or school. California's wine country may get all the glory when it comes to US wines, but excellent wineries are popping up all over the country, and their picturesque vineyards make for perfect weekend wine-tasting getaways.
1. King Estate Winery in Eugene, Oregon
Oregon wine country is primarily known for producing Pinot Noirs, but at King Estate Winery just south of Eugene, the Pinot Gris is the real hero. Besides wine tastings and tours of the production facilities, King Estate's restaurant serves lunch and dinner menus made from estate and locally grown organic vegetables and ingredients.
King Estate Winery — Photo courtesy of Don Hankins
2. Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery in Traverse City, Michigan
The 80-acre Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery overlooks the East Grand Traverse Bay. Visitors to the winery can stay in the renovated 1890s farmhouse and taste the latest vintages in the old world-style tasting room. The staff are notoriously friendly and well-versed in their wines, and you can even book a private tasting tour with the estate wine maker.
3. Casa Rondena Winery in Albuquerque, New Mexico
New Mexico's dry desert climate enjoys some of the most underrated wine growing conditions around, conditions that architect-turned-winemaker John Calvin takes advantage of at Casa Rondena. Visit the southwestern estate in the early afternoon and you'll likely have the patios and gardens to yourself as you sip a perfectly chilled Rosé.
Casa Rondena tasting room — Photo courtesy of Britt Reints
4. Becker Vineyards in Stonewall, Texas
All Bonnie and Richard Becker wanted was a piece of land in Texas Hill Country with a cabin on it to renovate. When they got more land than they bargained for, they decided to give grape growing a go, and the rest is history. Come enjoy the same award-winning wines that have been served in the White House in the outdoor seating area overlooking fields of lavender.
5. Mt. Hood Winery in Hood River, Oregon
Mt. Hood Winery is worth a visit as much for the view of Mt. Hood in the distance as for the solid wines, including a signature port-style vintage. The 20 acres of vineyards at Mt. Hood Winery grow Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Riesling grapes in the area's rich volcanic soils.
Mt. Hood — Photo courtesy of David Herrera
6. Chateau Ste Michelle Vineyards & Winery in Woodinville, Washington
Known for its Riesling, Chateau Ste Michelle is the oldest and most decorated winery in Washington State. Wandering the grounds of the sprawling chateau will make you feel like you're visiting an old-world European estate. During the summer months, the winery's outdoor amphitheater hosts concerts from A-list entertainers, from Dave Matthews to Tony Bennett.
7. Shelton Vineyards in Yadkin Valley, North Carolina
The rolling green hills of North Carolina's largest family-owned winery enjoy similar growing conditions to some of Europe's wine regions, and the estate grows around a dozen grape varieties using sustainable farming practices. Pick up some picnic supplies from the winery's shop and enjoy lunch and wine at one of the tables scattered throughout the grounds.
Shelton Vineyards pond — Photo courtesy of Jacob Childrey
8. Three Brothers Winery & Estates in Geneva, New York
New York's Finger Lakes region is quickly gaining attention as an up-and-coming wine region to watch, and Three Brothers Winery & Estates serves sweeter wines from three separate wineries and a microbrewery in a single estate. Most notably, Three Brothers brings a quirky sense of humor to the typical dignified wine tasting experience.
9. Winery at La Grange in Haymarket, Virginia
Housed in the eighteenth century red brick La Grange Manor, the Winery at La Grange pours a lovely glass of Cabernet Sauvignon in the family-friendly grassy grounds. Guides giving tours of the facilities will often regale you with the history of the 200-year-old house and its purported ghostly inhabitants.
Pinot Gris from La Grange — Photo courtesy of Sarah Sampsel
10. Sutcliffe Vineyards in Cortez, Colorado
Drop by Sutcliffe Vineyards and you'll likely get infected with John Sutcliffe's passion for all things wine. Each bottling includes no more than 360 cases, and each small batch comes from organically farmed grapes grown on the estate and, in some cases, from other nearby vineyards.