Top Ten Hidden-Gem Wine Regions - Page 2

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Blue Ridge Vineyard, Botetourt County, Virginia
As one of Virginia's first vineyards, Blue Ridge Vineyard offers more than just wine, with more than 300 acres of hiking trails, picnic tables, and weekend concerts.  (Botetourt County Office of Tourism)

5. North Fork, Long Island, New York
While more agricultural than the glamorous Hamptons on the other peninsula, North Fork is home to nearly 30 wineries open to the public, as well as fresh seafood, produce, and Long Island duck. About 75 miles from Manhattan, North Fork makes an easy side trip to a New York City vacation.

Shinn Estate Vineyards in Mattituck has been lauded for the 13 wines it produces, the Merlot winning particular praise. Owners Barbara Shinn and David Page created a sustainable vineyard using biodynamic methods rather than chemicals and pesticides. They also operate a small bed and breakfast if you'd like to stay on property.

Another interesting spot to visit is Croteaux Vineyards, open Fridays through Sundays, which specializes in Rose wines. Consider scheduling your trip to coincide with a class at the Farmhouse Cooking School, run by Paula Croteaux, a proprietor of the vineyard.

4. Botetourt County, Virginia
Louis and Clark began their fabled journey in Fincastle, Virginia, the town where you should start your own exploration of the three family-run vineyards of Botetourt County. All three sit in the valley of the Blue Ridge Mountains, boasting spectacular views, close proximity to the scenic drives of the Blue Ridge Parkway, hiking on the Appalachian Trail, and canoeing on the James River. The vineyards of the area produce a variety of wines, ranging from Rieslings to Cabernet Franc.

Roanoke is about 30 minutes to an hour away, depending on which vineyard you visit first. But it's possible to stay right on Fincastle Vineyard and Winery property, which has its own tranquil bed and breakfast. Check out the wooden hiking trails of the 300-acre Blue Ridge Vineyard before packing a lunch and heading for the Virginia Mountain Vineyards, which welcomes picnickers in its gazebo. If you plan your trip in the fall, stop by Ikenberrry Orchards for a variety of apples, a corn maze, and homemade apple butter and preserves.

3. Truro, Cape Cod
Situated between bustling Provincetown and the classic New England fishing village Wellfleet, about three-quarters of the land in Truro is designated as national seashore—but the town also houses one of the last working farms on the outer cape, and the only winery, Truro Vineyards. Purchased in 2007 by the Roberts family, David Roberts, a former CEO of United Liquors, a large distributor, is bringing his industry experience to the vineyard. The family grows Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, and Merlot grapes on the five-acre property, but they also bring in grapes from New York and California to make 13 other varieties of wine. One of the most unusual is the Cranberry Red, which comes in a lighthouse-shaped bottle.

If you want to branch out from Truro to other wine-related activities in the area, Nantucket holds a five-day festival every May showcasing wines from more than 150 vineyards. Martha's Vineyard also holds a festival in October that showcases local food and produce alongside wines from around the world.

2. Bloomington, Indiana
Indiana is known for producing a lot of agricultural products—like soybeans and wheat—but is wine one of them? Bill Oliver, who runs Oliver Winery in Bloomington is convinced that Indiana wines are on their way to being able to compete with those from New York and California.

The bulk of wine made at Oliver and sold under the Oliver label is produced from grapes imported from California and Oregon, and includes the number-one selling wine in the state—Oliver Soft Red. But the Creekbend collection is made from grapes grown at the vineyard from hybrid vines designed to withstand hot Midwestern summers and cold winters. Try wine from both lines while you're visiting and see how you think they compare. There are daily tastings, weekend production tours, and Creekbend tours by appointment.

And while Bloomington is only about an hour and a half drive from Indianapolis, its rolling-hill landscape stands out from the rest of the state. Sample some great local cuisine while you're in town. FARMbloomington, which includes FARMbar, FARMcafe, and FARMrestaurant, serves up local, seasonal fare like pan-roasted Indiana rabbit and bitter orange-glazed Hoosier duckling.

1. Hill Country, Texas
The roots of Texas wine go back more than three centuries, but in the last few years, Texas Hill Country, north of San Antonio and west of Austin, has become one of the country's fastest growing wine destinations. The topography, which includes lush rolling hills, stands out from the rest of the state and, in April, is known for impressive wildflower blooms.

There are 27 wineries to visit on the Texas Wine Trail, and while most are open year-round, spring is a great time to check out the wildflowers that dot the region.

One convenient home base for exploring the area is Fredericksburg. Originally founded by German settlers, the town has a strong European feel, authentic beer gardens, and a downtown chocked full of unique shops. An estimated 300 guest houses and bed and breakfasts dot the landscape, so check out booking service Gastehaus Schmidt to help in finding the right fit. Accommodations vary from Victorian style romantic getaways to rustic log cabins.

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