Published October 08, 2012
As there are many varietals of wine, so are there many different types of wine destinations.
From the up-and-coming wineries of Long Island to the classic Sonoma Valley vineyards of northern California, 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.
Bernardus Lodge and Winery
When most people talk about Northern California wine country, their discussion circles around Napa and Sonoma. But closer to the Pacific, the Carmel Valley offers its own relaxed wine culture bathed in sea breezes. Surrounded by oak trees and vineyards, Bernardus Lodge and Winery is an exclusive haven, where guests are welcomed with wine and cheese before retiring to rooms adorned with feather beds, fireplaces and bathtubs for two. From on-site Marinus restaurant with a 35,000-bottle cellar to the house spa offering vinotherapy treatments, wine plays a crucial role at this property. While touring the Carmel Valley, you won't want to miss the lodge's Marinus and Featherbow ranch estate vineyards, where you can sample small production bottlings that reveal how the cool coastal climate helps produce the subtle flavors.
Located in the beautiful Russian River Valley region of Sonoma County's famed wine country, the Farmhouse Inn offers an intimate escape, with original "heritage" rooms and more contemporary luxury rooms with jetted tubs, steam showers and private outdoor seating areas with indoor/outdoor gas fireplaces. Guests are greeted on check-in with a tasting from the Winery of the Month, and winery partners pour at a hosted reception on Thursday nights. In addition, the house sommelier team holds a wine tasting class for guests on Mondays. 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.
Shinn Estate Farmhouse
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.
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.
Dividing Lake Michigan's Traverse Bay, Old Mission Peninsula is the place to go when you want to get away from the grind of daily life. Although it's home to only eight 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-Lake
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 eighteen historic covered bridges, which include the longest covered bridge in the U.S.
The Allison Inn & Spa
With its warm, generous Pacific Northwest hospitality, the Willamette Valley wine country is perfectly paired with The Allison Inn & Spa. This laidback boutique property (less than an hour from Portland) is surrounded by 35 acres of gardens with pathways that lead to its own vineyards and picnic area. House restaurant JORY celebrates the area's agricultural bounty, as well as local vintners and microbrews — another regional specialty. After a day spent touring one or more of the valley's 200 wineries, you can enjoy a massage at the spa and then meander back to your room, to cozy up in front of the gas fireplace in winter or sit out on your terrace in summer overlooking the surrounding landscape.
Settlers Crossing Bed & Breakfast
Peaches, pecans, beer gardens and vineyards. Welcome to eclectic Fredericksburg. About one and a half 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. For more information, visit
The Tides Inn
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 Abeja
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 35-acre estate, with its gardens, creeks and vines embraced by wheat fields.
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