Published December 03, 2011
One of the greatest things about the U.S. landscape is its diversity. Mountains, deserts, rainforests, prairies — you name it, America has it. For wine lovers, that means there's a destination to suit nearly every interest. From the classic vineyards of northern California to the up-and-coming wineries of Long Island, we had a hard time narrowing down our favorite “wine countries,” not to mention our favorite places to stay within each region. Boutique resorts and traditional B&Bs both figure into this carefully compiled list, as do exceptional culinary indulgences, making this collection of wine country inns an epicure's dream come true.
Calistoga RanchCalistoga, Calif.
Despite our thirst to discover new wine countries, we'll never abandon our fondness for Napa Valley. Although it's the reigning champ of the American wine scene, it doesn't take its status for granted, and is continually evolving with the development of new inns, restaurants and wineries. Among our favorite contributions to this scenic region is Calistoga Ranch. Set in a secluded canyon, this rustically sophisticated property features a gorgeous spa and 48 individual, cedar guest lodges, all with fireplaces and indoor/outdoor living spaces that take full advantage of the natural setting. Think exclusivity on all counts. The restaurant is open only to guests and owners of the property's few private residences, and a small vineyard offers the opportunity to participate in grape crushing or the bottling and corking of select wines.
Farmhouse Inn Forestville, Calif.
Located in the beautiful Russian River Valley region of Sonoma County's famed wine country, the Farmhouse Inn offers an intimate escape, with just ten quaint accommodations, ranging from luxurious individual cottages to guest rooms in an original 1873 farmhouse. The elegant garden and pool area is flanked by a small spa, where treatments incorporate artisanal products. The highly regarded, eponymous restaurant is known as one of the finest in the region and features local ingredients, from salmon caught on the coast to pea shoots grown in the garden. In addition, complimentary breakfast showcases eggs from the farm’s own chickens and honey from its bees. Stays on Thursday nights include a wine tasting with local winemakers, and a winery partner program with fifteen area vintners entitles guests to VIP benefits. More information on
Shinn Estate FarmhousMattituck, N.Y.
On the North Fork of Long Island, nearly 40 wineries have transformed the region into one of the most appealing wine countries in America. Where else can you pair tastings with activities such as fishing, sailing, antiquing, kayaking, biking and even lighthouse tours? One of the area's finest boutique wineries, Shinn Estate Vineyards features a four-bedroom, circa-1880s homestead for a quiet stay just steps from the vines. Vineyard walks, winery tours and barrel tastings are all on offer, and sustainably grown wines include a wide variety, from a crisp rosé to a fruity Sauvignon Blanc-Sémillon blend, all produced in small batches right on the estate. Other high notes: stylish bedrooms, private bathrooms and a daily full breakfast, with treats such as fresh-baked bread and maple bacon cured by the owners. Visit in the winter, and you can sip your Cabernet Sauvignon around a cozy, roaring fire.
Château ÉlanAtlanta, Ga.
Although Château Élan is located just 40 minutes north of Atlanta, it feels a world apart from the big city. The inn has been fashioned after a quintessential French château, offering a taste of Old World Europe in the heart of the Deep South. The property also boasts 200 acres of vineyards, a 42,000-square-foot winery (often used for social events), seven restaurants including the elegant Le Clos and The Viking Culinary Studio, offering weekend cooking classes. Daily guided tours are a great way to explore the vineyards, and for those who want a more in-depth experience, Château Élan offers Meet the Winemaker Tours.
Chateau Chanta,Traverse City, Mich.
Dividing Lake Michigan's Traverse Bay, Old Mission Peninsula is the kind of place to go when you want to get away from the grind of daily life. Although it's home to only seven wineries, it's an official American Viticultural Area. A long weekend here means you'll have enough time to get to know each winery well. We suggest you begin with Chateau Chantal, an Old World-style winery on a 65-acre estate. Along with an eleven-room bed-and-breakfast, the grounds are home to a cooking school, where demonstration and hands-on classes include the opportunity to learn the fine art of pairing food and wine. Touring local wineries is a pleasant way to pass the time, especially when it is followed by a glass of house wine on the château's patio, overlooking the vines, cherry orchards and bay.
The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-LakeGeneva-on-the-Lake, Ohio
Adjacent to Geneva State Park with gorgeous views of Lake Erie, The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake is a charming base from which to explore the off-the-beaten-path Ohio wine country. Guests can start their foray with a flight of local wines at the Horizons Restaurant & Lounge. The hotel also offers a wine shuttle to nearby wineries. When not indulging in the fruits of the vine, guests pass the time lazing in the glass-enclosed indoor pool or lakefront outdoor pool, pedaling the bike trail along Lake Erie or taking leisurely drives to discover the area's seventeen historic covered bridges, which include the longest covered bridge in the U.S.
Youngberg HillMcMinnville, Ore.
With a beautiful setting atop a hill, this sprawling estate includes twenty acres of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris vineyards. Perhaps the greatest feature here is the inn's wraparound porch, boasting peaceful, bucolic views. Sitting out with a glass of estate wine, you can gaze over the vines and across the Willamette Valley all the way to the Coast Range, Mount Jefferson and Mount Hood. Inside the charming, Pacific Northwest-style inn, four suites and four bedrooms (most with fireplaces) complement a ground-floor library, salon and dining room. As Oregon's largest wine region, the surrounding valley has more than 150 wineries and tasting rooms. When you're out and about sampling local varietals, take time to visit the many antique shops and art galleries dotted throughout the neighboring towns.
Settlers Crossing Bed & BreakfastFredericksburg, Tex.
Peaches, pecans, beer gardens and vineyards. Welcome to eclectic Fredericksburg. Just two hours from Austin, this hospitable town, settled by German immigrants in the 1840s, is an anomaly in the land of longhorns. With more than 30 wineries spread across the surrounding Texas Hill Country, this area has been instrumental in the evolution of the Texas wine industry, which came to a halt with Prohibition and did not see a revival until the 1970s. Our lodging of choice here is Settler's Crossing Bed & Breakfast, a 35-acre property that is home to seven private, historic guest cottages and Brighty, the resident donkey — consider him a Lone Star version of a pink elephant if you return to the estate after one glass too many. Among the unique accommodations are the circa 1787 Von Heinrich Home (imported from Pennsylvania) and the 1865 Pioneer Log Cabin, which features a restored wine cellar and 40-foot long porch.
The Tides InnIrvington, Va.
Tucked between Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River on its own peninsula in Virginia's Northern Neck, this quaint, 106-room inn features a full-service spa, golf course and marina with a sailing school. In addition, the property is situated at the tip of the Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail, an intimate wine region with thirteen easily accessible wineries. There are few more ideal pairings than fine wines and Southern hospitality, and it is this combination that draws travelers to the area. They also come to be immersed in colonial heritage, which can be found throughout the countryside, as well as right at the inn, from its architecture to its regional culinary offerings.
The Inn at AbejaWalla Walla, Wash.
While Walla Walla's winemaking history dates back to the mid-1800s, it's only recently that this area has become one of the country's premier wine destinations. For those who want an experience that encompasses the region's history, a stay at The Inn at Abeja is a must. This century-old farmstead in the foothills of the Blue Mountains comprises a collection of restored buildings, including the old Summer Kitchen, Chicken Coop and Bunk House. Each freestanding structure is now its own private accommodation, while the spacious, former horse-and-mule barn has been transformed into the winery facility, which specializes in Cabernet Sauvignon. A sense of solitude is ensured on this 22-acre estate, with its gardens, creeks and vines embraced by wheat fields.
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