19 Oct Domestic Wineries for the Weekend Getaway

The French love their wine. But these days, so do Americans: In 2013, Americans for the first time unseated the French as the world’s leaders in wine consumption by volume, drinking nearly 4 billion bottles of wine that year – 12% of the wine consumed worldwide. [1] Unlike the era of Archie Bunker, today as many Americans prefer wine as they do beer. [2]

In the U.S., the average bottle of wine from a local liquor store is very affordable – around $8 to $9 or so. [3] But wine concessionaires with serious palettes and fat wallets are today indulging in wines that cost up to a thousand dollars a bottle or more.


wine table

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So, where do you go to immerse yourself in your passion for wine when you travel?

Well, with more than 425 wineries, Sonoma County, California is considered by many to be the #1 wine destination in the United States, having won the Travelers’ Choice Award in 2012.

Why? The proximity to the Pacific Ocean coastline, redwood forests, fertile valleys, and mountains produces the perfect grape-growing climate, yielding an array of exceptional award-winning wines.

Sonoma wines include Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Rose, Sauvignon Blanc, and Zinfandel. Naturally, many of the wineries give tours and tastings, and area hotels offer vacation packages for visiting wine aficionados. [4]

Of Sonoma, U.S. News & World Report says, “Its rolling hills, which rise into the Sonoma Mountains and descend to the Pacific shore, also contain a cache of small cities that are worth a visit: Try Santa Rosa for an urban escape, complete with museums and buzzy restaurants, but pop by Glen Ellen for a slice of small-town Americana.”  [5]



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California’s other major wine destination is Napa Valley. Its fertile soils produce Cabernets, Merlots, Chardonnays, and dozens of other varieties at more than 400 local wineries. Guided wine tours are available.

But there’s more to do in Napa Valley than just visit vineyards and taste the wines. You can bike or hike magnificent mountain trails, enjoy gourmet meals, and attend a variety of music, film, and art festivals held throughout the region. [6]

In 2012. Sonoma and Napa counties combined earned over $1.4 billion in tourism revenues, attracting more than 7 million tourists. [7]


On the opposite side of the country, on the East Coast, Long Island is less famous than Sonoma but rapidly gaining a reputation for its great wines.

The long, warm summers, tempered by the cool breezes off the Long Island Sound and Atlantic Ocean, produce a mellow autumn that permits the grapes, planted in nutrient-rich glacial soils, to ripen well into November. [8]

Smaller than Sonoma, Long Island’s wine region is concentrated on the North Fork, and you can hit a lot of wineries just by driving a straight shot down country road Route 25 through Peconic and Riverhead. In particular, Pindar Vineyard makes some unusually light and fruity varieties that are flavorful and refreshing.


The most visited winery in the country is also on the East Coast, but south of Pindar — the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina hosts one million tourists annually. [9]

Overseas, though Italy is giving them a run for their money, the French are still tops in the wine game. [10] And the Bordeaux region is the #1 destination for wine travel in the country. It hosts numerous wine festivals, tours of the many nearby vineyards, five-star restaurants, and ultra-luxurious hotels.


Whether you’re on the east coast, west coast, or smack dab in the middle, it’s time for you to book that winery trip. Click here to sign up with GTI and save on your ultimate trip.


[1] http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/data-mine/2014/10/02/drinking- data-shows-us-at-the-top- by-volume-but-europe-dominates-per-capita
[2] https://www.washingtonpost.com/realestate/cool-wine-cellars-are-hot-additions-to-homes/2013/09/12/d8fe7002-0c0b-11e3-9941-6711ed662e71_story.html
[3] https://www.statista.com/statistics/259433/average-price-of-leading-types-of-wine-in-the-us/
[4] http://www.sonomacounty.com/
[5] http://travel.usnews.com/Rankings/Best_Wine_Vacations/
[6] http://www.napavalley.com/thingstodo/
[7] http://theweek.com/articles/532653/state-winedrinking-america-today
[8] http://www.liwines.com/wp-content/themes/twentyten/climate.php
[9] http://theweek.com/articles/532653/state-winedrinking-america-today
[10] http://www.winemag.com/gallery/10-best-wine-travel-destinations-2016/