The balmy breezes of spring make us want to get out there and see the world more than ever, and some of our favorite destinations for relaxing, romantic weekend getaways happen to be beautiful wine regions. It got us thinking: What are the ideal spring wine country destinations? And, just as importantly if you share our taste for affordable reds and whites, what are some of spring's best bottlings and food-wine pairings?
I had an inspiring conversation with Ian Broome, a member of the Court of Master Sommeliers, certified Level ll with the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, and beverage manager at JW Marriot Starr Pass Resort & Spa in Tucson, Arizona, to get his expert tips about the best wines, and wine destinations, for spring.
Q: What U.S. wine regions are especially suited to spring travel?
A: They are all great in the spring! The scenery is beautiful as things green up, and it's an especially good time to meet the winemakers because there is not nearly as much work going on at the wineries as there will be later in the summer and especially the fall. The warmer regions, like Napa, Paso Robles, Arizona, and eastern Washington have lovely weather in the spring (in summer, the heat in those regions can be a bit oppressive). Cooler coastal climates, like Anderson Valley and the Sonoma Coast, on the other hand, are great summer destinations to get away from the summer heat.
Q: Are there wines you feel are particularly well-suited to spring weather?
A: Vinho Verde has a lower alcohol content and a slight effervescence, which make it a great wine to sip outside as you enjoy the return of warmer weather.
Q: Are there new bottlings in spring that should be enjoyed right away?
A: Affordable Spanish and Portuguese white wines, such as Rias Baixas, Rueda, and the Vinho Verdes from last vintage, should all be hitting the shelves and are best to drink when they are "young." These wines are all values and display good, crisp acidity, light fruit characteristics, and versatility in pairing with lighter fare, perfect for spring.
Q: What wine pairings are you especially fond of for spring produce like strawberries, ramps, asparagus, artichokes?
A: I lean toward Sauvignon Blanc this time of year; the fresh, sometimes vegetal characteristics pair well with the tangy, lively flavors that fresh spring produce brings to the table.