Wine & Travel

Snooth User: EMark

U.S. Wine Destinations

Posted by EMark, Oct 23, 2012.

I stumbled onto this list of Top 10 U.S. Wine Destinations at a site called TripAdvisor

  1. Sonoma County, CA
  2. Napa Valley, CA
  3. Willamette Valley, OR
  4. Finger Lakes, NY
  5. Long Island, NY
  6. Paso Robles. CA
  7. Temecula, CA
  8. Walla Walla, WA
  9. Palisade, CO
  10. Plymouth, CA

It's not clear to me how this list was built.  For all I know it was a guy in need of an idea before deadline making up a list from ether.  But it's reasonably fun.

No surprises in the first few.

Long Island surprises me a bit but, I guess the proximity to a very large population center helps.  Also, it's not clear to me that this list represents areas attracting  tourists who are seeking wine  adventures or tourists who are visiting an area that just happens to have something of a wine industry.

Temecula is probably on the list because it is close to two major populations--greater Los Angeles and greater San Diego.

I was surprised that Walla Walla was on the list but regions closer to Seattle were not.  Again, likely a case of defining how list entries were made.

Palisade, CO, was a surprise to me.  I am vaguely aware that Colorado had a wine industry, but I am surprised that this beat out, say, Columbia Valley.  Again, is this on the list because tourists are attracted to the area for other vacations?







Reply by Richard Foxall, Oct 23, 2012.

Good theory about those lists.  Easy out for old magazine journos, right up there with "X tips to enhance your Y."  (My wife made a pretty decent living with things like that when I met her.)

Long Island is gaining some reputation for chardonnay and merlot, among other things.  Also Riesling.  The maritime influence makes it more hospitable than some places and there's a lot of space out there on the Eastern End.  Definitely the proximity to NYC--heck, you can take the train--helps.  Paso Robles, not so centrally located, so when your friends visit you in LA, maybe you don't make it up there.  In any event, the LI wineries like to point out that they are at the same latitude as Bordeaux.   If it's like Bordeaux, why the chardonnay?  Or is that because it's like Napa, where Chardonnay is grown in too-hot locations and makes bad but expensive wine? (BTW, you have to scroll down a little in my second link, but right below LI, NY, is Traverse City, MI. Now that's an obscure wine region.)

I kind of doubt that this is based on how many people go, so maybe it's average ratings for the trips people took, in which case who knows how it skewed?  Small number of visitors with few bad scores could get great ratings, but is it worth going there?  The Finger Lakes is really out of the way, as much so as Paso Robles, and for the most part has fewer wineries of lower quality.  More picturesque?  Depends on what you like, but there's a huge period of time where it's almost impassably covered in snow. 

Reply by JonDerry, Oct 23, 2012.

I'd say 9 and 10 are the surprises...they must have meant Willamette, OR for #3

Agree with Fox on Long Island, there's plenty of east coast demand for wine, though didn't know about the rep for Chardonnay & Merlot, particularly surprising. Think Finger Lakes probably has as much to do with the scenery as anything, it's a good getaway for the folks over there I imagine. Have some friends who used to live in New York who've enjoyed their time out there.

Reply by stoneglass, Oct 24, 2012.

TripAdvisor is a website which gives ratings based on user feedback.  I recently stayed in a hotel during a wine excursion and a request for a hotel review was in my email when I returned.   I don't know how they attain ratings for wine destinations.   

MD and VA both have some very outstanding producers.  But it's OK with me they did not make the list,   their yield is not high enough to support the entire country.  


Reply by Zinshop, Oct 24, 2012.

Have you ever been to Temecula? Do not dismiss it as though it is a quirky after thought. Temecula has great wine and even better wine hosts that really care about educating their visitors.

Reply by Lucha Vino, Oct 24, 2012.

Walla Walla has the largest number of wineries in Washington.  Most of the best known wineries are located here, or close by, as well.  I'm sure this is why it is listed as a destination for Washington even though it is in such a remote area of our state.

You can fly directly to Walla Walla and skip the commute by car.  Or, start from Seattle and make an extended road trip since there are so many great areas to visit between Seattle and Walla Walla.  While you are at it you could head on up North to the Okanogan in British Columbia or South to the Willamette Valley in Oregon.

We have lots of great wine being made in the Pacific North West.  There is no shortage of destinations to recommend!

What wine regions would you all recommend for a visit?


Reply by EMark, Oct 24, 2012.

Jon, the typo on the Willamette Valley entry was my bad.  I manually transcribed the list over so that people did not have to click on the link if they did not want to.  You can see, that, based on your comment, I have repaired the damage.

Zinshop, if you feel that my comments denigrated Temecula, then, again, that is my bad.  I agree that they produce some good wines.  I also feel that their tasting rooms benefit from being an easy drive from a huge population base.

Lucha, I think you provide a good explanation of why Walla Walla is on the list.  I have visited Walla Walla (on business).  It is a geat town and there is no denying that they produce great wines.



Reply by jtryka, Oct 24, 2012.

The only thing surprising about Walla Walla is that it wasn't above any location in NY state!

Reply by Richard Foxall, Oct 25, 2012.

Everyone will have their opinions about these lists, but I have to point out two things about the NY regions:

Repeat:  LI is very convenient to NYC and, if you haven't lived there, you have no idea how many people "summer" on that end of LI.  When I was young, my friends would go in on a summer house and take the LIRR out there every Friday evening.

JTryka, the Finger Lakes area is centrally located and, to a degree, inconvenient to everyone, as my father would say.  However, it's the oldest legitimate wine region in that part of the country and has other attractions--the Lakes themselves, cute college towns, spectacular geography from the glacier-carved gorges and waterfalls.  It's a slog from NYC, a good 5 1/2 hours, but it's actually closer to Philadelphia, about 4 1/2 to 5 hours, in my experience.  It's reachable from Pittsburgh, even. Lots of cute country inns up there for a get away.  It's a popular summer destination for East Coast urbanites. So it has a lot of areas to draw from, whereas the population density of the west, and of Eastern Washington's surrounding area, is a lot lower. Actually makes some sense, but that poll was hardly scientific.

Also helping the Finger Lakes: Cornell also has a big ag school that promotes grapes that can do well up there, although the regional  wines were mostly wretched when I attended college there in the early '80s.  Of course, I was coming from California.  Recently, I had a terrific Riesling from Ravines Winery recently that cost $20, so things have improved somewhat.  My guess is the area will continue to improve if they focus on quality grapes that can grow in the difficult conditions.  I suspect that's going to mean Riesling, a bit of cab franc, maybe some pinot if they can find some clone that does well in cooler areas of Germany.  I also would not rule out the idea of champagne blends, because you don't need the ripeness, or maybe Chenins for sweet wines--it's damp like the Loire. Unfortunately, there's a history of bad wines, sparkling and sweet, in that area which won't help with consumer attitudes.  And it's not the easiest place to farm.

Reply by jtryka, Oct 25, 2012.

Your logic doesn't hold up, there are lots of wineries in southwest Michigan, which is only 2 hours from Chicago, so that should be a "wine destination" by your definition, which appears to be they make wine there and it's close to a population center.  I just don't buy it.  There are truly world class wineries in Walla Walla making exceptional Bordeaux blends, while I perused the Wine Spectator listing of Finger Lakes wines, and from what I saw the highest rated wines were some 91-point reislings, but there were also some rated as low as 74 points, and I never even knew they published ratings that low.  In any case, the list I saw hardly made me want to plan a wine vacation to the Finger fact of the 265 wines on the list, only 10 were rated in the 90s, and there was one rated 69!  That does not say "wine destination" to me. 

Reply by Tbandcwfjourney, Aug 29, 2013.


Ok, I know in the scheme of things we are just beginners, but don't count us out completely.  Wouldn't it make sense that the same things that make our "world" famous peaches so yummy would allow us to grow some pretty good grapes too?
Colorado Mountain Winefest in Palisade Colorado.  September 19 thru 22nd.

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