Six Great American Wine Regions
Budget Travel honors six lesser-known areas where Americans are producing world-class reds and whites. Plus, we've rounded up 44 more wineries from sea to shining sea. That's at least one taste-worthy winery in every one of the 50 states!
TEXAS HILL COUNTRY
Even wine production is bigger in Texas. Take Hill Country, a 14,000-square-mile expanse in the center of the state. With 32 wineries, it’s America’s second-largest AVA (American Viticultural Area, or grape-growing region with unique geological features)—and one of the nation’s fastest-growing, too. Vintners can thank the hot, dry weather, which is perfect for growing Mediterranean-style grapes such as tempranillo and syrah.
Visit: One of the state’s oldest wineries, Becker Vineyards has had its bottles opened at both the Super Bowl and the White House (beckervineyards.com, tastings $10, open daily).
Eat: At Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que, the meat is smoked for five-plus hours over mesquite coals and sold by the pound (coopersbbq.com, pork ribs $11 per pound).
Do: Grab an inner tube and hit the horseshoe-shaped Guadalupe River, where you’ll find the locals floating away their lazy summer days (shantytubes.com, four-hour tube rental $15).
Stay: Fredericksburg’s Full Moon Inn plays up the town’s German roots with its breakfast menu of sweet-potato pancakes and German sausages (fullmooninn.com, from $150).
Other notable wineries:
- Fall Creek Vineyards (fcv.com, tastings from $5, open daily).
- Flat Creek Estate (flatcreekestate.com, tastings from $7, open Tuesday-Sunday).
- Fredericksburg Winery (fbgwinery.com, up to five tastings free, open daily).
- Spicewood Vineyards (spicewoodvineyards.com, tastings $5, open Wednesday–Sunday).
PASO ROBLES, CALIFORNIA
It’s roughly halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles and 240 miles south of Napa, but “Paso,” known for its zinfandel and syrah, might as well be on another planet. It’s uncrowded, unpretentious, and, best of all, unlikely to drain your wallet. Most of its small, family-run wineries charge just $5 to $10 to taste six wines—if they charge at all.
Visit: At Eberle Winery, visitors can roam the 16,000-square-foot cave where its award-winning zinfandel and cabernet sauvignon are aged (eberlewinery.com, tastings free, open daily).
Eat: Farmstand 46 in Templeton embodies Paso’s agricultural bent, growing much of the produce that tops its wood-fired pizzas (farmstand46.com, pizzas from $10).
Do: Tour the olive mill at Pasolivo, a local farm that’s been pressing handcrafted oils for over a decade (pasolivo.com, tours and tastings free).
Stay: The just-remodeled Paso Robles Inn has a heated pool and a central downtown location (pasoroblesinn.com, from $141).
Other notable wineries:
- Justin Vineyards & Winery (justinwine.com, tastings $10, open daily).
- Pipestone Vineyards (pipestonevineyards.com, tastings $10, open Thursday–Monday).
- Tablas Creek Vineyard (tablascreek.com, tastings $10, open daily).
- Tobin James Cellars (tobinjames.com, tastings free, open daily).
It’s been more than 200 years since Thomas Jefferson planted vineyards at Monticello. Now, with six AVAs and 206 wineries, Virginia is the country’s fifth-largest producer of wine—including some of the best Viognier made outside of France’s Rhône Valley.
Visit: Built on the grounds of a Thomas Jefferson-designed mansion and owned by Italian winemakers, Barboursville Vineyards is one of the state’s most renowned wineries (barboursvillewine.com, tastings $5, open daily).
Eat: In Charlottesville’s historic district, Brookville specializes in contemporary American food, from braised pork breast to spicy raspberry jelly doughnuts (brookvillerestaurant.com, braised pork breast $22).