The pandemic had a huge impact on global tourism over the last year. In the wine industry alone, business owners lost a considerable amount of their income due to the lack of visitors. In its Global Report of Covid-19 Impact, WineTourism.com surveyed more than 1,000 wineries from all over the world and found that more than half lost 50% or more of their income due to the pandemic.
But there’s still hope: “9 out of 10 wineries believe the wine tourism industry will recover by 2022 at the latest.” And while virtual tastings are still quite popular among wineries both in the U.S. and abroad, some wineries have started to welcome back visitors for in-person tastings and tours.
If you are looking for an exciting (and safe!) wine travel experience, consider these five destinations.
Paso Robles (California)
Equidistant from San Francisco and Los Angeles and the third largest and most diverse wine region in California, Paso Robles is truly a gem in the California wine industry. With its western roots and over 250 wineries within the AVA (American Viticulture Area), Paso Robles is a charming town with lots of character and great wine.
- Where to stay: Hotel Cheval, Allegretto Vineyard Resort, the Geneseo Inn
- What to drink: Reds: Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Grenache; Whites: Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Roussanne and Sauvignon Blanc
- Where to eat: Tin City has several restaurants to choose from, but if you’re looking for more of a formal dining experience, Le Petites Canailles offers a fresh take on French cuisine.
- Wineries to visit: DAOU Vineyards, Robert Hall Winery, Cass Winery, Indigene Cellars
Texas Hill Country (Fredericksburg, Texas)
Located 75 miles south of Austin, Texas Hill Country is the fifth-largest wine region in the United States. With more than 100 wineries and vineyards, visitors can explore the Urban Wine Trail or explore the many tasting rooms and retailers.
- Where to stay: Behr House Bed and Breakfast, Brickner Guest House
- What to drink: Reds: Malbec, Grenache, Mourvedre, Tannat and Tempranillo; Whites: Viognier, Vermentino, Sauvignon Blanc and American hybrid grape Blanc du Bois
- Where to eat: Cabernet Grill, Lincoln Street Wine Market, Backwoods BBQ
- Wineries to visit: Duchman Family Winery, Kai-Simone Winery, Pedernales Cellars, Spicewood Vineyards, Heath Sparkling Wines
Finger Lakes (Upstate New York)
Home to some of the most scenic views on the East Coast, the Finger Lakes wine region has 120 wineries and produces the most wine in the state. While it does get cold and snowy in Upstate New York, the region experiences all four seasons, which helps to cultivate rich soils. The four lakes (Keuka, Seneca, Canandaigua and Cayuga) provide ideal drainage for grape growing. There are also several wine trails for visitors to explore.
- Where to stay: Geneva on the Lake Boutique Resort Hotel, 2W Lake, The Lake House on Canandaigua
- What to drink: Reds: Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and Merlot; Whites: Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Chardonnay
- Where to eat: Veraisons Restaurant, Ginny Lee Café, FLX Table
- Wineries to visit: Glenora Wine Cellars, Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard, Damiani Wine Cellars, Heron Hill Winery
Willamette Valley (Portland/Eugene, Oregon)
The 150-mile stretch between Portland and Eugene makes up the scenic Willamette Valley, which is home to more than 750 vineyards and 600 wineries. Pinot Noir is king in Oregon Wine Country, but many winemakers are experimenting with grape varieties and creating outstanding sparkling wines. The Valley is split into four sections—North Valley, Mid-Valley, South Valley, and West Cascades—each with their outdoor adventures like hot air balloon rides, cycling trails and craft beer tours.
- Where to stay: The Allison Inn & Spa, Black Walnut Inn & Winery, Valley River Inn, The Dundee
- What to drink: Reds: Pinot Noir, Gamay; Whites: Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Grüner Veltliner
- Where to eat: Epilogue Kitchen and Cocktails, Marché Restaurant, Trellis Wine Bar & Kitchen, The Joel Palmer House
- Wineries to visit: Abbey Creek Vineyard, Stoney Wines, King Estate, Sweet Cheeks Winery and Vineyard, Vidon Vineyard
Loudoun County (Leesburg, Virginia)
Located an hour outside of the nation’s capital, Loudon County is known as D.C.’s wine country and has over 40 award-winning wineries to explore. Middleburg is the AVA within Loudoun County and was established in 2012. In addition to the wine adventures, Loudoun County has delectable farm-to-table restaurants, breweries and distilleries, hiking trails and spas for rest and relaxation.
- Where to stay: Goodstone Inn, Briar Patch Bed & Breakfast Inn, Blue Hill Farm Bed and Breakfast
- What to drink: Reds: Cab Franc, Petit Verdot, and Norton; Whites: Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Riesling and some fruit wines
- Where to eat: The Wine Kitchen, Baker’s Crust Artisan Kitchen
- Wineries to visit: Fabbioli Cellars, Corcoran Vineyards and Cider, Hillsborough Winery, Brewery and Vineyard