Sonoma and Napa Valley, California, particularly the wineries, are primarily tourist destinations and garner five million visitors annually. Approximately an hour north of San Francisco, the heart of California’s $35 billion wine industry offers many tour options. Along with the opportunity to learn about the art of winemaking, wineries
in the region offer breathtaking views, outdoor music, and other attractions. The following is a sampling:
• A tour of Gloria Ferrer winery (www.gloriaferrer.com) takes visitors deep into the caves carved out of the hillside and educates them on the process of sparkling winemaking. Each summer the winery hosts its Catalan Festival – a two-day celebration honoring the owners’ Spanish roots.
• Gundlach Bundschu (www.gunbun.com) has transformed the winery experience into much more. In the spring and summer the winery hosts a myriad of activities that include a Shakespeare festival, movies under the stars, and classical music concerts.
Winery Tours in USA Photo Gallery
• St. Supery Vineyards and Winery (www.stsupery.com) offers a one-day Harvest Adventure. Groups of up to 12 pick grapes, stomp them with their feet, and taste juices as they ferment. A blending seminar concludes the experience.
• Viansa Winery & Italian Marketplace (www.viansa.com) includes a 90-acre waterfowl preserve. In the summer months the winery hosts barbecues and live music.
Winery-themed tourism is not exclusive to California; all 50 states have at least one winery. Most wineries have gift shops and offer wine tasting for visitors. A few are destinations for business meetings and leisure tourists. Chateau Elan Winery & Resort (www.chateauelan.com), 40 minutes north of Atlanta, for example, has a conference center, spa, two championship golf courses, classic French fine dining, and an Irish pub in addition to winery tours.
In New York state, the Finger Lakes and Long Island areas are prominent viticultural regions. The Hudson Valley, 90 miles north of New York City, is home to Benmarl Winery (www.benmarl.com), in Marlboro, the country’s oldest commercial winery and the oldest continuously farmed vineyard, dating to 1772.
Prohibition nearly wiped out Texas’s wine industry, but it re-emerged in the 1970s and now offers 163 wineries in four regions. The prime sectors, because of their climate and proximity to Austin, are the Texas Hill Country American Viticultural Area and, within that, the 110-square-mile American Viticultural Area of Fredericksburg. About 30 wineries are located within them – as are many of the state’s best BBQ restaurants.
Fifty-six wineries are spread across Michigan along four wine trails, but most of the best grapes are grown near the eastern shore of Lake Michigan and its bays. Top wineries are positioning themselves as small but key players in the Riesling renaissance that is taking hold across the country, and nearly one million visitors sampled the offerings in 2016. The most popular wine region, because of its prime setting along Lake Michigan, is the Leelanau Peninsula, home to about 20 wineries, 16 of which have public tasting rooms.
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