Best Wine Region (2018)


While California undoubtedly produces excellent wine, it's got stiff competition these days. The United States is as of 2016 home to 238 American Viticultural Areas, or AVAs–grape-growing regions designated by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

  • Finger Lakes

    Finger Lakes
    New York

    New York’s picturesque Finger Lakes region is home to three distinct American Viticultural Areas, Finger Lakes, Seneca Lake and Cayuga Lake AVAs. Visitors to the area will find more than 130 wineries, many specializing in Riesling.
    Photo courtesy of Visit Finger Lakes / Flickr

  • Lodi


    Lodi’s classic Mediterranean climate creates excellent conditions for producing a diverse range of wines, though many area wineries focus predominately on red. Highlights of the more than 100 varieties in production include Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel.
    Photo courtesy of Lodi Winegrape Commission

  • Leelanau Peninsula

    Leelanau Peninsula

    The Leelanau Peninsula is the second oldest American Viticultural Area in the state of Michigan, established in 1982. The area is now home to 26 wineries with 680 acres of wine grapes–a quarter of the state’s total. The cool climate produces wines that are often crisp, clean and balanced, as well as ice wine.
    Photo courtesy of Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail

  • Santa Barbara County

    Santa Barbara County

    Beautiful Santa Barbara sits amid one of the world’s most diverse grape growing regions. Santa Barbara County encompasses six American Viticultural Areas ranging from foggy and windswept Santa Maria Valley to the east-west corridor of Santa Ynez Valley.
    Photo courtesy of Jay Sinclair/Courtesy of Visit Santa Barbara

  • Walla Walla Valley

    Walla Walla Valley

    Italian immigrants began growing wine grapes in Washington’s Walla Walla Valley in the 1850s. Today, this region features more than 100 wineries producing a range of varietals, most popularly Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. The American Viticultural Area spreads across the border into Oregon as well.
    Photo courtesy of Visit Walla Walla

  • Texas Hill Country

    Texas Hill Country

    The scenic Texas Hill Country surrounding the communities of Austin, Fredericksburg, Stonewall, Lampasas and New Braunfels is home to more than 50 different wineries. This American Viticultural Area is the second largest in the country, with varietals ranging from Viognier to Tempranillo to Cabernet Sauvignon to Merlot to Chenin Blanc to Aglianico to Sangiovese to Mourvèdre, with increasing acreage being planted in warm weather grapes.
    Photo courtesy of Fredericksburg Convention & Visitor Bureau

  • Grand Valley

    Grand Valley

    Colorado’s Grand Valley is home to more than 20 wineries and vineyards known for producing some of the state’s best wines. Situated 4,700 feet above sea level with some 300 days of sunshine per year, the microclimate here yields wine grapes with intense flavor.
    Photo courtesy of Denise Chambers/Miles / Colorado Tourism Office

  • El Dorado

    El Dorado

    In El Dorado, vineyards cascade down steep hillsides in the magnificent Sierra Nevada mountains. This wine region, one of the oldest in California, grows some 50 grape varieties on 2,000 acres of vines. This scenic region lies less than an hour from Sacramento and South Lake Tahoe.
    Photo courtesy of iStock / alacatr

  • Willamette Valley

    Willamette Valley

    Oregon's Willamette Valley, home to seven different American Viticultural Areas, is collectively best known for producing some of the world’s most exceptional Pinot Noir. There are well over 554 wineries in the Willamette Valley waiting to be explored.
    Photo courtesy of Carolyn Wells Kramer

  • Yadkin Valley

    Yadkin Valley
    North Carolina

    The Yadkin Valley, North Carolina’s first American Viticultural Area, is home to some of the state’s best wineries growing native grapes like Muscadine and Scuppernong as well as many European varietals. Most of the several dozen wineries in the region are small family affairs, where a tasting might be hosted by the winemaker or owner.
    Photo courtesy of Southern Foodways Alliance / Flickr

The top 10 winners in the Best Wine Region category are as follows:

  1. Finger Lakes - New York
  2. Lodi - California
  3. Leelanau Peninsula - Michigan
  4. Santa Barbara County - California
  5. Walla Walla Valley - Washington
  6. Texas Hill Country - Texas
  7. Grand Valley - Colorado
  8. El Dorado - California
  9. Willamette Valley - Oregon
  10. Yadkin Valley - North Carolina

A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to pick the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote. Experts Jill Barth, a Provence Wine Master; Shana Clarke, Wine Editor for and contributor to Eat Sip Trip; Karen MacNeil, one of the foremost wine experts in the U.S.; and June Rodil, a Master Sommelier were chosen for their knowledge of wine and the American wine scene.

Congratulations to all these winning regions!

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Jill Barth

Jill Barth

Jill Barth

Shana Clarke

Shana Clarke

Shana Clarke

Karen MacNeil

Karen MacNeil

Karen MacNeil

June Rodil

June Rodil

June Rodil