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10 Unexpected Cities Serving Up Great Wine

We all know Napa Valley and Sonoma, but these are places you'd never suspect to find a glass of good vino.

By Livability on May 25, 2022

You won’t need a passport to explore the many cities that are redefining the boundaries of wine country. Chances are, you’re only a hop, skip and cork pop away from one of the many vineyards peppered throughout America. So whether you have one day or an entire week to dedicate to wine tasting, you won’t have to travel far to sample some of the country’s best varieties.

1. Geneva, OH

The Midwest has a sweet side, and it tastes a lot like Riesling. The next time you’re passing through Ohio, grab a glass and stay awhile. Boasting 280 wineries throughout the state, Ohio is a hub of unique events for wine lovers. Geneva, located in Ashtabula County, boasts the most wineries in the state. While you’re in the area, round out a hike along the Grand River with a tasting at South River Vineyard, or check out some classic cars as you sip some vino during Crusin’ da Vines Metal Muscle Nights

Santa Fe NM
Santa Fe / Courtesy of MARELBU under a CC 2.0 license.

2. Santa Fe, NM 

With roughly half a dozen wineries within the city limits — and more on the fringe — Santa Fe is more than a pit stop on the New Mexico wine trail. Sample organically grown Chenin Blanc and Petit Verdot at Vivac Winery. While you’re there, sample one of the winery’s signature keg wines…you won’t regret it. Next up, settle in at Santa Sidra for their signature hard cider. Both stops are great choices to pair with a taco.

3. Palisade, CO

Nestled in the Grand Valley along the Colorado River sits Palisade — a mecca of grapevines known as Colorado’s Wine Country. Many tours and tastings are not only affordable but family-friendly as well. Those with a more adventurous palate can sample the valley’s unique wines made from peaches, honey, cherries, and plums.

4. Winston-Salem, NC 

You’re going to need something to wash down that Carolina barbeque, and what better than the perfect glass of a full-bodied Cabernet? The city of Winston-Salem alone is home to 42 vineyards growing varieties of European-style grapes for you to swirl, swish, and sip. If you’re looking to get in touch with nature, make a pit stop at Divine Llama Vineyards, home to the largest llama farm in the southeast.   

People gathered on the lawn at Arrington Vineyards located in Franklin TN
Nathan Lambrecht

5. Arrington, TN

Drive 30 minutes south from the action of downtown Nashville, and you’ll find yourself in the peaceful hills of Arrington, home to Music City’s answer to the most crowd-pleasing red: Red Fox. This wine is a gem among the diverse portfolio of varietals produced at Arrington Vineyards by its owners: country music artist Kix Brooks, winemaker Kip Summers, and entrepreneur John Russell. 

Signor Vineyards in Fredericksburg, TX
Signor Vineyards

6. Fredericksburg, TX

Fredericksburg has its very own wine country, with more than 50 wineries, vineyards and tasting rooms all within Gillespie County. The Texas Hill Country is solidifying its reputation as a top-notch wine destination, but the area actually has a long history of making vino. The original settlers used the native mustang grape to produce wines in the 19th century. For a solid introduction to the region’s wines, start by tasting Sangiovese and tempranillo at Signor Vineyards, which has French country gardens and a market with fresh baked goods. 

7. Clermont, FL

Rainy day at the beach? Head inland and sample the Muscadine wines that put Lakeridge Winery and Vineyards on the map. If you’re feeling extra festive, splurge on Florida’s version of champagne: Pink Crescendo sparkling wine. Tours and tasting are offered seven days a week and always free of charge.

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8. Buchanan, MI

Tucked in the middle of the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail, the city of Buchanan has multiple stops for wine lovers. Enjoy a day of sampling wine and upscale dining at Tabor Hill Winery, or enjoy a glass of vino from local winemaker Hickory Creek Winery. Although the vineyards are open year-round, summer is recommended for visits due to the mild weather.

Santa Barbara CA
Santa Barbara / iStock Photo/csfotoimages

9. Santa Barbara, CA

When it comes to California vineyards, Napa and Sonoma tend to steal the spotlight. But SoCal has a hidden gem that it’s not too eager for others to discover. Just the geography of Santa Barbara is enough to make you swoon, but stir in a few wineries and you have a legitimate paradise. You don’t even have to leave the city limits to enjoy the more than 80 different wineries and dozens of different varieties of wine Santa Barbara has to offer — you can easily Uber from one to the next in a day’s time.

10. Lincolnville, ME

If you’re visiting Maine, you’ll want something fitting to go with all that lobster you’ll be noshing on. Plan to spend a day tasting some of Maine’s finest wine selections, with vineyards such as Cellardoor Wineries offering tastings of everything from a traditional Petit Sirah to their signature maple syrup and brandy-infused port, C’est de l’Or.

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