When you have the ability to fly where you please, spending the weekend or vacation at one of the top wine destinations in the U.S. is easier than ever. Just grab your bags, board the plane, fire up the engines, punch in your coordinates and you’ll quickly be on your way to the best wine in the country.
If you’re looking for great places to fly, we think these wine destinations are ideal places to explore. Keep reading to learn more about 10 wine destinations in the U.S.
1) Yakima Valley, Washington
To satisfy your inner sommelier, visit Yakima Valley, Washington, part of the larger Columbia Valley. As the first American Viticultural Area (AVA) for Washington State. Yakima provides the state with 40 percent of its annual wine grapes, mostly in the form of Chardonnay, Merlot, Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon. With more than 60 wineries, 18,000 vineyard acres and 708,000 total acreage that is full of picturesque landscapes, you can’t go wrong with a trip to Yakima.
2) Charlottesville, Virginia
For sommeliers who moonlight as history buffs, head to Charlottesville, Virginia. This historic town has seemingly endless acreage dedicated to producing fine wines and was once home to Thomas Jefferson. In fact, Jefferson sowed the seeds that would transform the area into a wine destination—literally—he planted the first grapes here when he was the fifth president of the United States. Today, the state of Virginia now boasts more than 300 wineries of all sizes, making it the perfect place to try a new red or white.
3) Shawnee Hills, Illinois
The Land of Lincoln may not be the first place you think of when considering ideal wine destinations. But, the northwest and southern corners of Illinois are actually blessed with a landscape that’s perfect for producing grapes. Plus, it’s far enough away from the heavily populated Chicago that it feels secluded. Wine enthusiasts can enjoy some of the country’s best varietal wine, which are French-American hybrid wines that include seyval blanc and vidal blanc whites, as well as chambourcin and seibel reds.
4) Willamette Valley, Oregon
With over 500 vineyards, stretching from Portland to Eugene, a visit to the Willamette Valley in Oregon is a must for pinot noir enthusiasts. Because of the abundance of calcium located deep within the area’s soil, the valley is known as one of the premier producers of pinot noir in the entire world. Beyond its pinot noir, the area is known for its lush hillsides that sit in the shadows of the Cascade Mountains, with many options for multi-day journeys filled with wine tastings, bed and breakfast inns tucked away in scenic settings, as well as biking and hiking trails.
5) Moab, Utah
If you’re an avid wine taster and connoisseur, you may be surprised to learn that Moab is an up-and-coming wine destination in the U.S. As one of the most beautiful places in North America, if not the world, Moab’s wineries are nestled between enormous sandstone canyons. While not as prolific as, say, California or New York, Moab provides a place for the everyday sommelier to enjoy new, delicious wines in an unbelievable setting.
6) Hermann Wine Trail, Missouri
Missouri is another place that many people seem to overlook—but you’d be wise to give America’s first wine region a chance. Before California and Napa put the U.S. on the map as a wine destination, Missouri had a thriving wine industry, started in the early 1800s. And, winding through some of the prettiest scenery in the state, you’ll find wineries spread throughout the Hermann Wine Trail, including the oldest continuously owned and operated family winery in the country, Adam Puchta Winery. In terms of delectable wine, Missouri is far from being a “flyover state”.
7) Napa County, California
Even though Napa Valley only spans five miles at its widest point and 30 miles at its longest point, the area remains the standard for wine destinations in the U.S. The region boasts the highest concentration of wineries in the country, with more than 300 different wineries, approximately one every two square miles. Due to its dry Mediterranean climate, Napa produces some of the world’s best chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon grape varieties.
8) Door County, Wisconsin
The next Midwest wine destination on our list is located in the tranquil area known as Door County, Wisconsin. Affectionately coined with the nickname, the “Cape Cod of the Midwest”, Door County is home to a small, yet impressive group of wineries. The oldest, largest producer in the state, Door Peninsula Winery, produces some of the country’s best-tasting tart cherries. For a laidback wine trip, perfect for a weekend getaway or an overnight trip, head to Door County.
9) Upstate New York’s Finger Lakes
Located in upstate New York, Finger Lakes is a world-renowned destination for those seeking award-winning sweet and dry wines. The shores of these 11 long and narrow lakes provide the perfect environment for delicious grapes to thrive. The 120 wineries located throughout Finger Lakes are often compared to those in Germany’s Rhine River region, where Riesling reigns supreme. It’s a classic European grape that, shielded by the lake shores, withstands the cold and snowy winters common in the area. Other notable Finger Lakes varieties are chardonnay, pinot noir, cabernet franc and sparkling wines.
10) Three Rivers Wine Trail, Minnesota
While it may be cold up north, Minnesota has a thriving wine community, thanks to the lush river valleys throughout the state. The 90-mile long Three Rivers Wine Trail, located just east of the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolis, is home to some of the tastiest cold-hardy hybrids like the Marquette Grape. In addition to this winter-resistant grape, you’ll find a variety of frontenac, frontenac gris, and la crescent grapes, that produce award-winning wines. Plus, you can catch a glimpse of the scenery while you’re here, from expansive farmland to pine-covered wilderness to abundant lakes and more.
Ready to Reach Your Favorite Destinations?
With a newly minted pilot’s license, you can takeoff toward these wine destinations whenever you need to feed your inner sommelier. To gain the freedoms that come with learning to fly, get in touch with Inflight Pilot Training to learn more about our pilot certification process.
Inflight Pilot Training is a leading flight instruction company serving the state of Minnesota. With a reputable training program and an extensive roster of highly skilled, certified flight instructors, it’s our goal to help you obtain your private pilot’s license so you can fly wherever you wish.
For additional information on Inflight training programs, contact us today or call (952) 698-3000.