Can you feel it? The longer days, the need for increasingly thinner outer garments, and the noticeable (dare we say…glaring) rise of more sunshine (maybe you should buy some sunglasses?). It all adds up to one thing…Summer is nearly here!
And with it comes a serious need to travel. From weeks-long vacations to quick weekend getaways, there’s nothing quite like traveling in the summer time. And if you’re looking a unique reason to take off with friends or the perfect activity to fully experience the gorgeous weather, have we got a recommendation for you: Wine tasting.
Sure, you THINK it’s snobbish and boring, but in reality, it’s the perfect mix of outdoor recreation, group undertaking, and (of course) alcohol. Here are just five places around the United States that are perfect for some summer wine tasting
Washington Wine Country
With over 240 wineries in the southern-central part of Washington State, this area offers a more casual take on a wine tasting tour. Rolling over three distinct areas of smooth hills and old-time farmland, this area of Washington is perfect for the wine taster who also loves adventure: hiking trails abound, as do mountain biking paths, water activities are almost as much of a draw as the region’s award-winning wines. If small-town friendliness and farm fresh cuisine sound like the perfect pairing with your favorite Syrah, then Washington Wine Country beckons!
Grand Valley, Colorado
A fun 4-hour road trip from Denver or a quick hour-long flight from hubs like Las Vegas, Denver and Salt Lake City, lay the quiet towns of Palisade, Grand Junction and Fruita. Though once regarded as a boring stretch of farmland during a larger road journey, Grand Valley is quickly becoming a destination for wine-and-adventure thirsty daytrippers. In addition to its dozens of wineries, the Grand Valley offers activities like hiking, camping, whitewater rafting and mountain biking. The towns have become a unique mix of adventurers and wine tasters — though, of course, those titles are not mutually exclusive. If you’ve been thirsting for adrenaline-pumping activities with a glass of wine on the side, you know where you should go next!
Sonoma County, California
An easy hour drive north of San Francisco, Sonoma County is a laid-back, rustic foil to its prestigious Napa Valley neighbor. For most folks looking to travel on the west coast, this relaxing wine tour is easily within reach by either car (road trip!) or plane. Though peaceful and easy-going, its wines still rake in awards and accolades internationally. Spanning over more than a million acres, this piece of wine country offers thirsty travelers over 425 unique wineries! Often referred to as the Valley of the Moon, the lazy towns of Sonoma County hold intimacy and a laid-back lifestyle in high regard – the winemaker them self will usually be the one pouring your glass of wine, engaging you in a long chat, giving you recommendations of things to do around town.
If you’re as obsessed as we are with the Broadway darling Hamilton, then you may regard the name Thomas Jefferson with a newfound scowl (all Virginians are birds of a feather, after all). However, this founding father did something right, at least: he inspired the historical Monticello Wine Trail! While he never lived to see the fruition of his vision of Virginian wineries standing shoulder to shoulder with the famous European wineries of the day, more than 200 years later, there are over 20 wineries in the area that have earned national and international accolades. If you like to pair your wine with an interesting dose of history, visiting these wineries nestled between areas of national importance is an ideal trip!
Hudson River Valley, New York
Just a short one-hour drive from New York City, the beautiful and scenic Hudson River Valley plays host to over two dozen historic wineries. In the 1600s, this area was where the first vineyards were cultivated and where the first winery was constructed. The oldest operating winery, Brotherhood Winery, still runs out of the area — with its commercial roots dating back to 1839. For a taste of fine wines, a dash of luxury, a region steeped in history and a promise of sweeping river views, the Hudson River Valley is the perfect spot to sip on a glass of wine.
So celebrate summer by gathering a group of pals and trekking to the winery nearest you — bottoms up!