Mountain views and vines for days at Cave Ridge Vineyard in Virginia.
© Cave Ridge Vineyard
Travel

Through the Grapevine

Napa and Sonoma may be the icons of the American wine tasting scene, but across the country, there are more under-the-radar spots that are perfect for an outdoor summer visit.
By Lizbeth Scordo
Published on
Bad Seed Farm Bar in New York state's Hudson Valley serves hard cider.
Take a break from wine tasting in the Hudson Valley.

Hudson Valley, New York

The third-largest wine-producing state in the country (behind California and Washington), New York churns out a range of homegrown vinos from the Finger Lakes to Long Island. But it’s the Hudson Valley that’s not just one of the easiest to access—many wineries are 90 minutes from Manhattan—but also one of the oldest U.S. wine regions, with some vines dating back to the 1600s. At the 37-acre Benmarl Winery (which holds New York Farm Winery license no. 1), you can reserve a tasting at an outdoor table overlooking the bucolic valley below, try estate-grown Rosé, and Cabernet Franc, and tack on a pizza from the onsite wood-burning oven. If you’re looking to picnic, hit the laid-back Robibero Family Vineyards, a smaller venue situated on the leafy Shawangunk Ridge. Staffers&will pour you a four-varietal sampler of greatest hits—often including its estate-grown Cab Franc and Vidal Blanc—that you can cart out to a picnic table or stone firepit on the expansive lawn. (Feel free to BYO food or grab charcuterie at the winery.) For even better vineyard views, secure a space beneath the vine-covered pergola on the property’s 92-foot deck.
The Empire State’s hard-cider scene has exploded in recent years, and you can sample a slew of them at Bad Seed Farm Bar, which pours from taps inside an open-air shipping container right on the apple orchard, with local live bands performing on Friday and Saturday nights.
New York’s Hudson Valley is one of the oldest wine regions in the U.S.
Outdoor Fix For one of the valley’s short but strenuous hikes that’ll give you a good glimpse at the Hudson from 1,200 feet, try the 3-mile Breakneck Ridge Loop trail, which starts near the village of Cold Spring.
Where to Stay Reserve a room, cottage, or house at Buttermilk Falls Inn & Spa, which also has a farm-to-table restaurant, organic garden, and animal-rescue sanctuary on the property.
Sip a glass of wine at Los Milics Vineyards, about an hour from Tucson.
Sip a glass of wine at Los Milics Vineyards, about an hour from Tucson.

Arizona

The entire state is home to just 100 wineries, spread out over three main regions, including the Sonoita Valley. That’s where you’ll find Los Milics Vineyards, in the hills about an hour southeast of Tucson. Owner Pavle Milic serves a lineup of his standout Spanish- skewing offerings, like a Monastrell-Tempranillo blend and a carbonic Garnacha. The winery recently started hosting tastings at its crush pad, with a future tasting room currently in the works. Head about 80 miles east of Tucson to the jagged Chiricahua Mountains and you’ll find LDV Winery, a small producer that crafts its wine using the four grapes (Syrah, Petite Sirah, Grenache, and Viognier) it grows on its 13-acre vineyard. Set up a tasting and tour led by owner/ winemaker Curt Dunham, whose wife and co-owner, Peggy Fiandaca, has booze-making in her blood; her grandfather was a fabled Kentucky bootlegger during Prohibition. In nearby Willcox, Carlson Creek Vineyard—run by brothers John and Robert Carlson—just opened its new tasting room at the family’s 280-acre vineyard surrounded by some of the state’s highest mountains. You can opt for a tour here, too, or just settle in for a tasting on an Adirondack chair a stone’s throw from its vines. (If you’re in Phoenix for the weekend and don’t want to make the trek south, both LDV and Carlson have tasting rooms along Old Town Scottsdale’s growing “wine trail.”)
Outdoor Fix For excursions near the vineyards, seasoned mountaineer John Carlson recommends the Cochise Stronghold—a collection of granite peaks and domes—for climbers or the gloriously low-trafficked trails of Chiricahua National Monument for hiking, where you’ve got a good shot at spotting desert-dwelling wildlife like coatimundis and javelinas.
Where to Stay Rhumb Line Vineyard offers a couple of groovy Quonset huts with private baths and plenty of stargazing opportunities.
Enjoy a glass of wine at Los Milics Winery in Arizona.
Enjoy a glass of wine at Los Milics Winery in Arizona.

Shenandoah Valley, Virginia

Thanks to its collection of sprawling wineries connected by a series of scenic drives, this region between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny mountain ranges has become a popular get-out-of-the-city jaunt for residents of nearby metropolises like Washington, D.C. Historically, the area has always been an agricultural hot spot but has grown to become a wine boomtown, too, thanks in part to its limestone-rich soil and dry climate. Mad mountain views abound at Cave Ridge Vineyard, where you can book an umbrella-covered table on the rustic raised deck or stone courtyard, order a flight of estate red, white or sparkling and then stroll the vineyards of Cab Franc, Chardonnay, and newly planted Pinot Noir. Look for live music sets on weekends. Muse Vineyards—owned by a former U.S. ambassador and an English barrister—is one of the area’s top picks, with tons of local awards on its walls and 20 varietals planted on its 35 acres of vineyards, some of which sit at 1,000-feet elevation and others down on the banks of the Shenandoah River. Order its sampler flight of five—which usually includes two vintages of its fabled Clio, a Bordeaux blend aged in French oak. Pair it with a picnic on the manicured lawn or try tasting on its vineyard-fronting terrace.
The Shenandoah Valley is a popular respite for residents of Washington, D.C.
Outdoor Fix From Muse, you’re only 30 miles from Shenandoah National Park, where you can tackle canyon hikes that lead to flowing waterfalls, treks through wildflower fields, and backcountry camping.
Where to Stay Cabins, cottages and farmhouses are available on Airbnb throughout the valley, making for a good home base if you’re visiting wineries and wandering the park.
Toulouse Vineyards and Winery offers tastings of multiple Pinots and whites on the property.
Toulouse Vineyards & Winery in the Anderson Valley.

Anderson Valley, California

Thanks to its proximity to the coast, this charming stretch of Mendocino County grows some of California’s most primo Pinots, a grape that thrives under a hefty dose of the marine layer and cooler climates. While Anderson Valley growers have been selling grapes to producers around the state for decades, its tasting-room scene is still relatively quiet compared to California’s better-known big-dog regions, with around 30 wineries dotting the 15-mile-long valley and a setting just as stunning as its better-known winemaking counterparts to the south. To taste at one of the area’s top Pinot producers, make a beeline for Goldeneye. It’s a larger commercial outfit but worthy of a stop to sip some of its single-vineyard offerings on the patio. You can also pick up a picnic basket to dig into while sitting under the property’s colossal black oak tree. After planting their first Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes on an abandoned apple farm more than 20 years ago, spouses Jason and Molly Drew make wines at Drew Family Cellars that are now some of the most buzzed-about in the valley. Though their actual winery isn’t open to the public, you can sample a mix of current offerings—usually a white, Syrah, and two Pinots—on the covered outdoor courtyard at the Madrones, a Mediterranean- style complex outside the town of Philo that’s home to three tasting rooms, an inn, and restaurant. The nearby 21-acre Toulouse Vineyards & Winery follows sustainable practices, like utilizing organic compost made of discarded grape skins and stems to naturally fertilize its soil. Tastings of multiple Pinots and whites take place either on the patio or beneath a covered space out in the vineyards.
Bottoms up at Toulouse.
Bottoms up at Toulouse.
Outdoor Fix Be sure to add a morning visit to Hendy Woods State Park to your trip. The park is made up of two groves’ worth of ancient redwoods and is a solid spot for some quick hikes or a kayak ride along the Navarro River.
Where to Stay The Boonville Hotel dubs itself a modern roadhouse, with 15 rustic rooms and cottages, plus a courtyard restaurant serving a locally sourced prix fixe menu.
Many wineries require or recommend appointments and are open only on certain days in the week, so be sure to check ahead of time.