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U.s. Wine Trails - The Perfect Weekend Getaway

Jan 30, 2008
Wine tours have long been popular excursions for wine lovers and those who enjoy beautiful, lush scenery. But no longer will you need to travel to France or Napa Valley for a wine tour getaway, as specialty wine trails in just about every state are catering to wine travel fans. The United States has over 6000 wineries, with at least one in every state. Many states boast specialty wine regions, with clusters of wineries grouped together in close proximity for an ideal weekend getaway.

These small independent wineries are typically grouped only a few miles apart, making it easy to visit several over the course of a day or two. In addition to beautiful scenic countryside, you'll be able to taste some of America's finest new award winning wines, produced by master winemakers.

A wine trail is usually designated by a state's tourism commission, with signs and routes marked for easy navigation. Since wine making is both art and science, you'll experience different offerings and tastes at each winery. The spirit of entrepreneurship and passion for excellence is evident when you visit, and the experience of tasting new wine is an enjoyable experience to share with friends.

Most domestically produced wine available to U.S. consumers comes from California, but other states are narrowing the gap. Just as California's Napa Valley and other prolific wine growing areas are wine tourism magnets, so too are other wine areas in the country. To cite just one example, our recent research trip to Arkansas acquainted us with their beautiful wine country and wine trail in the western part of the state.

Another example is Missouri, where there are 75 wineries, many with their wine making roots going back 150 years. These midwestern states, along with many in the eastern part of the U.S., are the forefathers of the American wine industry. There are many largely undiscovered treasures that await in dozens of other states as well.

Most wine trails are small and compact enough to allow reasonable drive times. Wineries are usually clustered within 15-20 minutes of one another. Also, you'll find many comfortable inns, bed and breakfasts, and local attractions along the wine trails. Most wineries are open year around, but of course it's best to call or check on the web.

Having experienced and enjoyed many wine trails across the country, we can state that the best thing we packed was an open mind. There are thousands of grape varieties being grown and cultivated, resulting in hundreds of different wine styles. These small wineries enjoy experimenting and trying new approaches, so leave any preconceptions at home and enjoy the opportunity to try a new take on an old favorite.

Whenever we travel a wine trail, we always add in an overnight stay. This allows us to relax and enjoy wine as it was meant to be enjoyed. It's particularly enjoyable to try local restaurants and their regional specialties. You'll even be able to break up the wineries into two seperate days, which will help keep you and your palate sharp.

Wineries along any U.S. wine trail are happy and proud to share their offerings, no matter what season you visit. You'll be able to experience new wines and explore charming small towns. Best of all, no matter where home is, there's a wine trail within a half days drive, making local wine travel a highly enjoyable and educational weekend getaway.
About the Author
Jim Hofman is an author specializing in wine and beer, and is the owner of several websites devoted to wine enjoyment. Jim and his wife produce a free online newsletter, dedicated to introducing their readers to the many U.S. wine trails and the joy of wine travel.
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