Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.
At last count, there were wines being made in all 50 states. Now, some do face unusual difficulties - Tedeschi Vineyards in Hawaii, for instance, is the only vineyard I can think of in the U.S. located on the slopes of an active volcano - but nevertheless, there they are, wineries in every state. This fact can be easy to overlook, since California makes more than 90 percent of all U.S. wine.
But as the weather has turned nicer (or, at least, is supposed to have), why not take a spin out to a local winery or two? Not a bad activity for a balmy weekend afternoon, and you’re supporting local businesses, too, which would be rather civic-minded of you. To spur you along, here are five wineries from around the country that are worth a trip.
Texas: Becker Vineyards
The Hill Country near Austin is probably the most visitable wine region in the state, though in fact the high plains around Lubbock grows more grapes (partly because, to be honest, Austin is a lot more fun than Lubbock - sorry, Lubbockians). One of the stalwarts of the region is Becker Vineyards, which makes a mighty fine Viognier ($15 for the 2011 vintage). Somewhat smaller, and also well worth a visit, is Duchman Family Winery - try the elegant and citrusy 2010 Vermentino, among others.
Michigan: Chateau Grand Traverse
The area around Traverse City has an abundance of wineries. One of the best and most unusual among them is L. Mawby, on the Leelanau Peninsula—unusual because it produces only sparkling wine, and quite good sparkling wine at that. If you’re making an overnight trip of it, stay nearby at the Inn at Black Star Farms, which in addition to wine produces a number of very good eau-de-vies (fruit brandies).
Colorado: Infinite Monkey Theorem
First, great name, from the classic probability theorem (to wit: Given an infinite amount of time, a hypothetical monkey typing at random would eventually almost surely produce all of Shakespeare’s plays). Second, handy tasting room located in Denver, which is convenient since winemaker Ben Parsons gets his grapes from vineyards all around the state. And third, good wines: stop by and taste the intense 2009 Hundredth Monkey ($49), an inky blend of Petit Verdot, Malbec, Petit Sirah and Syrah, or really anything Parsons makes.
Virginia: Barboursville Winery
There are wineries scattered all over Virginia, but one good way to get a sense of this state’s wine depth is to follow the Monticello Wine Trail, near Charlottesville. There are a variety of good wineries along its length. One of the must-visits is Barboursville, which makes particularly good Reserve Viognier ($22) and Reserve Cabernet Franc ($23) in addition to being just a remarkably scenic place to begin with.
New York: Red Newt Cellars & Bistro
Red Newt, in New York’s Finger Lakes region, has a couple of things going for it, besides simple charm: First, its crisp Circle Label Riesling is an extremely good wine for the price ($13; 2010 is the current vintage), and second, it has a top-notch bistro on the property that makes it an excellent lunch stop. Moreover, May is Riesling Month in the Finger Lakes - appropriate, since the region produces some of the best Riesling in the country - and many other wineries are offering special tastings and discounts.
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Sanctuary Vineyards in North Carolina produces several very nice wines, including some surprising dry reds.
Don't forget about Door County Wisconsin!
Don't forget about Door County Wisconsin-some of the best wines!
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