WINE TRAVEL GUIDE
Wine Country Weekends
In wine country, everything from the food to the spa treatments screams, "Indulge yourself!" Here are six U.S. wine regions where you can uncork the fun.
Where to Stay: The Greenporter, a renovated 1957 motor lodge, reopened in 2001 as the first boutique hotel on the North Fork. The 30 rooms have blond-wood floors and mid-century modern furniture. Standard rooms can sleep as many as three people, and deluxe kings acommodate four. The hotel's La Cuvée Wine Bar and French Bistro is popular with nonguests. 631/477-0066, thegreenporter.com, from $99.
In the 1800s, central Missouri had a robust wine industry, due to German immigrants who had settled there. Prohibition hit hard in the 1920s, and virtually all of the 100 vineyards and wineries closed. But recently, Missouri wine country--and the area around Hermann, in particular (tourism info: hermannmissouri.com)--has made a comeback, becoming a weekend escape for people from St. Louis (a 90-minute drive) and Kansas City (three hours).
Favorite Vineyard: In 1965, the Held family helped spark Hermann's renaissance when they restored the 1847 Stone Hill Winery. Much of the vineyard is planted with Norton, the state's signature grape. In the three tasting rooms you can try free samples of hybrids you won't find in warmer climates, like vidal blanc, vignole, and chambourcin. 800/909-9463, stonehillwinery.com.
Picnic Supplies: Hermann does not have a gourmet grocer--yet--but Hermannhof Winery & Vineyard sells a $13 plate lunch that includes cheese, sausages, pickles, apples, and half a loaf of bread. 800/393-0100, hermannhof.com.
Fresh Air: Much of the 225-mile-long Katy Trail, a rails-to-trails path, runs parallel to the Missouri River. Rent a bike at Hermann Ride Rest & Go Bicycle Shop. 573/486-9170, $15 per day.
Spa Time: Soothe sore muscles at Massage for Your Health, where the treatments start at $30 and customers nibble on chocolates while they wait. 877/543-0199, massageforyourhealth.com.
Fancy Dinner: The best restaurant in Hermann is Europa, owned by Bob and Chris Rappold, a husband-and-wife team. The kitchen and dining room are on the first floor of their Victorian home. The name and the menu reflect the couple's travels in Europe. Entrées include Wiener schnitzel, and filet mignon in a mushroom sauce. 573/486-4333, europa-restaurant.com, entrées from $19.
Where to Stay: The Hermann Hill Village Cottages are on a bluff with views of the Missouri River. Four of the two-story cottages sleep up to four people, while a fifth can accommodate as many as eight. Each has a kitchen, living room, a deck or patio with a gas grill and hot tub, and two fireplaces. 573/486-4455, hermannhill.com, from $314 for four.
WILLAMETTE VALLEY, ORE.
More than 200 vineyards and wineries can be found in the Willamette Valley--pronounced "wil-lam-et," rhyming with "damn it"--which stretches for 100 miles, from just south of Portland to Eugene. Sheltered by the Coast Range to the west and the Cascade Range to the east, the valley has a climate perfect for producing Oregon's famous pinot noirs (tourism info: willamettewines.com).
Favorite Vineyard: In Carlton, Anne Amie Vineyards produces 20,000 cases of pinot a year. Paintings by local artists hang in the tasting room, where you can sample the estate's wines for $5. French doors lead to a long terrace that overlooks the vineyards and the Coast Range. 503/864-2991, anneamie.com.
Picnic Supplies: Harvest Fresh, a gourmet deli and grocery, is six miles northeast of Anne Amie, in McMinnville. Boxed lunches include half a sandwich, a salad, and a cookie. Larger groups can order fruit-and-cheese plates or antipasto platters with Italian meats and cheeses, roasted peppers, eggplant, and sun-dried tomatoes. 503/472-5740, harvestfresh.com.
Fresh Air: From April to October, Vista Balloon Adventures in Newberg sells one-hour flights followed by a champagne brunch for $189. 800/622-2309, vistaballoon.com.
Spa Time: McMinnville's Urbanbliss Salon & Spa offers its customers free wine tastings and, on Double-Date Thursdays, buy-one-get-a-second-half-off treatments. 503/472-3097, urbanblissspa.com, 30-minute massages from $47.