There are wine tasting rooms across the country, but some of the small boutique wineries have the best tasting rooms. We have partnered with Arizona-based Susan Lanier-Graham, of Wander With Wonder, who loves discovering a great sip of wine and an unforgettable wine room as she wanders the USA.
I love a great glass of wine, but someone once told me wine is almost all atmosphere—more to do with where you drink it and the company you keep than the quality of the wine. While I don’t completely agree, and love a great tasting wine, I do agree that a great winery with a comfortable tasting room can definitely elevate your wine experience. Even if you aren’t a wine connoisseur, you’ll want to check out these wine tasting rooms across the USA.
Cellardoor Winery: Wine Tasting Room in Lincolnville, Maine
I happened upon Cellardoor Winery, in the countryside near Lincolnville, Maine, during a rare vacation with girlfriends. The wines are ideal for a summer on the Maine coast. I especially enjoyed Vendange, the estate-grown brut sparkling rosé, made in the traditional Method Champenoise, just the way French make their champagne.
The motto for Cellardoor made me smile: “Live your life. Be who you are. Drink good wine along the way.” I discovered that in the early 20th century, a hobo carved a symbol over the farmhouse door. The symbol, now Cellardoor’s logo, signaled to fellow travelers that it was a safe, welcoming place. Today, Cellardoor is still that—a place of friendship and hospitality. Stop by for a glass of wine, special Sunday pairings, and beautiful views of the Maine countryside.
Lincolnville is about two hours north of Portland, Maine, along scenic Highway 1. Book one of the beautiful inns in nearby Camden for a lovely summer stay and extend your winery visit.
Aridus Wine Company: Wine Tasting Room in Scottsdale, AZ
Aridus Wine Company is a small winery that opened in Southeastern Arizona in 2012. While the grapes grow near Willcox, surrounded by high mountains, you don’t have to drive that far from Phoenix to sample these wines. Since I live in Phoenix, this one is easy for me to visit and a fun spot to spend a Saturday afternoon.
Aridus, which means arid in Latin, has a modern tasting room in Downtown Scottsdale. With the huge temperature variations between day and night here in Arizona, we have pretty incredible grape growing conditions here in the Southwest. And Aridus takes advantage of those conditions to produce some excellent wines. For example, try the Sauvignon Blanc, my favorite white, with a bit of a tropical note. If you like reds, the Petite Sirah was the 2017 winner of the San Francisco International Wine Competition. The aroma of fresh plums and cassis is heavenly.
After your glass of wine, wander historic Downtown Scottsdale, enjoying the galleries, restaurants and boutiques. While hotels are pricey during the high season, there are some great deals if you travel to the Phoenix area during the summer months, when you can spend days lounging in the pools!
Homestead Winery: Wine Tasting Room in Grapevine, TX
I adore Grapevine, Texas. It’s a fun mix of modern and historic less than five minutes from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and there are some great tasting rooms along the Historic Main Street. I like Homestead Winery because it’s a little bit different—about a block off Main Street. Homestead Winery has a long history and the winery itself is located in the Red River Valley of North Texas. However, you can visit the visit the tasting room in Grapevine in a historic 1890s Victorian home.
Homestead has some fun wines and some serious wines—they say they offer wines for every occasion. I enjoyed the big bold Zinfandel and found the Chocolate Rose fun. Yes, it’s a Ruby Cabernet infused with chocolate. Not the normal wine aficionado’s wine, but a whole lot of fun. The Viognier is a favorite Texas white and those who like sweet will enjoy the Muscato. Before you leave, be sure to sign the wall. The challenge? Remembering where you signed when you go back next time! Grapevine offers some great hotels for every budget, so you can book a room and walk to the fun tasting rooms around Historic Downtown Grapevine.
Buttonwood Farms: Wine Tasting Room in Solvang, CA
While California is know for its wineries, not everyone is familiar with Solvang. But they’re missing out. I fell in love with Buttonwood Farm, Winery and Vineyard. This really is one of those rare finds located a few miles out of Solvang. In addition to the vineyard, there’s an organic farm with olives, pomegranates, herbs and peaches.
The winery is open daily and you can taste their wines. They even invite guests to bring a picnic and take advantage of the gardens. I enjoyed all of the Buttonwood wines. I suggest the Grenache Blanc, Syrah Rosé (which is a true Provence-style rosé) and the Cabernet Franc for those who appreciate bold French-style red wines.
Take your time and enjoy your day at the farm, but when you head back to Solvang, there are more wineries. I suggest a visit to Lucas and Lewellen. Solvang is an easy drive from the small yet modern Santa Barbara airport. Looking for a place to stay? My absolutely favorite hotel is The Landsby, a modern retreat in downtown Solvang that gives a nod to the Danish history, but a modern flare. In addition, you can sample more local wines in The Landsby’s bar.
Caraccioli Cellars: Wine Tasting Room in Carmel, CA
This time we head to Northern California and the charming coastal town of Carmel. Carmel itself is a little bit of a fantasy and I fell in love with the sparking wine at Caraccioli Cellars. The tasting room is small, intimate and has the most amazing wooden bar that felt almost alive. That seemed to fit the lively bubbles of the wine.
My favorite wine was the Brut Rosé, which is a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir blend. It has a lovely yeast that makes me think of baking bread and is a gorgeous pale pink color. I look forward to more of these lovely bubbles!
I thoroughly enjoyed the Pinot Noir at Caraccioli, although they were still quite young when I tasted them. The fruit comes from the Santa Lucia Highlands and the wines are aged in French Oak. They are a gorgeous deep ruby color with a bit of a peppery taste. I look forward to tasting them in a few years. During your stay in Carmel, I suggest La Playa Carmel. Located just a couple of blocks from the beach and down the hill from the center of Carmel, this was once a luxurious mansion and has ocean views and gorgeous gardens. Your stay also includes breakfast and a complimentary shuttle into downtown.
Vizcarra Vineyards: Wine Tasting Room on the Niagara Wine Trail
Niagara Falls, USA and nearby Buffalo are known for many things—most notably the amazing Niagara Falls—but you’re missing out if you don’t explore the Niagara Wine Trail. Every winery along this picturesque route offers something different and I had a chance to visit several of them during my visit. I recommend a visit to Vizcarra Vineyards at Becker Farms in Gasport, located about 30 miles east of Niagara Falls or about 30 miles north of the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.
Becker Farms is a working, family owned farm. The vineyard has a variety of wines, from fun fruit wines to the award-winning Pinot Noir, Riesling and Traminette. For a great stay during your time in Niagara Falls, USA I recommend The Giacomo. It’s a historic building in the heart of Niagara with amazing views over the falls from the 19th floor Sky View Lounge.
Colterris Winery: Wine Tasting Room Near Grand Junction, CO
I grew up on the Western Slope of Colorado, so the wineries near Grand Junction instantly bring me all those flavors that make me feel at home. I love Colterris Winery, which has two wine tasting rooms—Colterris Winery Tasting Room and Colterris at the Overlook Tasting Room. Both are located in Palisades, a few minutes east of Grand Junction just off Interstate 70. It is a fertile valley known as much for its amazing peaches as its grapes. Overlooking the valley are the unique sandstone Book Cliffs, most notably Mt. Garfield. It is popular to bike through the vineyards, enjoying the mild Colorado summer weather.
My favorite Colterris wine is the limited production, Cabernet Franc produced from vines that Colterris planted on the Colorado River 25 years ago. The Malbec is a little bit spicier. Both wine are aged in French and American oak. While you’re visiting, be sure to pick up some peaches. I promise you, there are none better in the world. You can fly from Denver to Grand Junction and book a room in Grand Junction to enjoy a long wine-filled weekend in the High Country.
Susan Lanier-Graham is an official Travelocity Gnational Gnomad. Gnational Gnomads is an exclusive group of high-profile travel and lifestyle experts who offer tips and inspiration on behalf of Travelocity. For more information on the Travelocity Gnomads visit travelocitygnomads.com.
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