5 Lush Cities for Wine Lovers
For some, a wine tour is a great way to spend a Saturday – for others, it’s a religious experience. After a brief dip in the early 90s, the U.S. wine consumption has grown steadily for the past 20 years, and the multi-billion dollar industry supports over 9,000 vineyards across the country. The U.S. is swimming in wine, and if you’re a wine lover, you could be too!
The booming U.S. wine industry has transformed towns and regions, creating havens all over the country for winos. So, if you worship at a barrel-shaped shrine, check out these five towns where any true oenophile will feel right at home.
Most people associate Walla Walla with onions, not grapes, but this only reflects the town’s strong agricultural history. Walla Walla rests in South Eastern Washington’s Columbia Valley, which has volcanic and sandy soil that’s perfect for growing grapes. The town is currently in the midst of a wine boom, and the greater Walla Walla area now hosts over 100 vineyards. Even the local community college offers a degree in winemaking for anyone eager to pursue a career in the industry.
With just over 31,000 residents, the city retains a small-town feel and a vibrant arts and cultural scene – an excellent pairing for just about any wine.
The home of Thomas Jefferson has become a hotspot for wineries and breweries alike. Charlottesville is surrounded on all sides by vineyards, including Jefferson’s historical plantation, Monticello. The Rivanna River has serviced farms in its lush basin for centuries, and vineyards are no exception. Hundreds of millions of years of erosion have given the region a unique geology that produces a great variety of grapes. Natural beauty, clean air, and outdoor activities are just a few more things residents love to drink in.
Resting on the northern end of Oregon’s scenic Willamette Valley, McMinnville is a rainy paradise for wine-lovers. McMinnville boasts an amazing food and wine scene and a majority of the major vineyards in the valley are in the immediate area surrounding the city. If you’re a Pinot nut, you’ll feel right at home – McMinnville is home to the International Pinot Nior Celebration, a 30- year-old tradition held every July. If you love pairing your wine with great food and don’t mind wearing a rain jacket, then McMinnville might be right up your alley.
Sitting on the southern end of New York State’s Finger Lakes, Ithaca is one of the largest towns in the area, with a tiny population of just over 30,000. The city is situated close to the heart of the Finger Lakes’ wine industry, and most of the vineyards in the area are within an hour drive.
Cornell University’s main campus is located in Ithaca and stimulates a large part of the local economy, with technology and tourism making up much of the rest. If you love knowing about where all your food comes from (not just your wine,) the Ithaca Farmers Market hosts over 160 vendors, all located within 30 miles of the city.
This one should come as no surprise to anyone who loves wine – not mentioning Napa would be like leaving Paris off a list of great art cities. Napa Valley is among the best wine regions in the world and the capital of the California wine scene. The area’s world famous wine tradition has spawned a strong culinary scene with more Michelin star restaurants and breweries than you can shake a wine thief at.
Napa’s perfect climate for grapes is also a perfect climate for humans – outdoorsy types will find a variety of activities in the beautiful, green valley. If you want to eat, sleep, and breathe wine, Napa is a mecca for grape nuts.