Five of the best US cities for wine-lovers

With sweeping vineyards, slick tasting rooms and family-run wineries to discover, here are five stand-out cities for every oenophile’s list.

Sunset over Asheville, North Carolina.

Photograph by Getty Images
By Jacqui Agate
Published 27 Feb 2023, 08:02 GMT

It’s no secret that Europe has dominated the enotourism scene for a while. In the latter half of the 20th century, however, US wine-makers started to put the Land of the Free on the map. Now, Washington wineries, Californian chateaus and a sea of vineyards in between are giving the US a shot at the corkers’ crown.

1. New York City, New York 
There are few things the Big Apple can’t turn its hand to — and wine is no exception. The Lower East Side has become a hotspot for natural wine, with new bars like Skin Contact offering Eurocentric menus and following on the heels of neighbourhood mainstays like The Ten Bells. There are urban wineries aplenty, too, including the stalwart The Red Hook Winery, which opened in 2008, and Williamsburg’s chic Brooklyn Winery, which is gearing up to open in a new and larger space. Of course, you can also strike out into New York State’s wine country — the vine-striped Hudson Valley and Long Island’s North Fork make for easy day trips.

2. Asheville, North Carolina
It might be known for its solid craft beer scene (it’s got the most breweries per capita in the US), but Asheville is home to some stellar wine, too. There’s a plethora of wineries spread out in the Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina, with the Biltmore Winery being the most popular among them. Find Biltmore Winery at the sumptuous estate of the same name, built for George Vanderbilt in the late 19th century. Alternatively, shift gears in Asheville’s mural-decorated River Arts District, where Plēb serves wine from taps at upturned barrels. 

3. Seattle, Washington 
The Pacific Northwest city has an impressive store of urban wineries, plus the rich Woodinville Wine Country on its doorstep. Make a beeline for SoDo Urbanworks, a cool industrial spot that houses 10 tasting rooms under one roof — highlights include Love. Beats. Pagne., a ‘bubble bar’ serving fizz from around the world, and Patterson Cellars, which sells top-notch offerings from Washington state. Molly’s Bottle Shop is also a great stop for a range of natural wines from across the globe. Out in wine country, the Betz Family Winery is a firm favourite, with its fantastic Bordeaux-style red blends.

A local winemaker samples a vintage in one of SoDo’s many bars, in the heart of ...

A local winemaker samples a vintage in one of SoDo’s many bars, in the heart of Seattle.

Photograph by Alamy

4. San Luis Obispo, California 
California is America’s wine heavyweight, with 147 American Viticultural Areas (AVAs), endless vine-crossed landscapes and plenty of wine-soaked cities. The Napa and Sonoma regions hog much of the limelight, but the San Luis Obispo Coast, anchored by the city of San Luis Obispo, is one of the Golden State’s newest and most forward-thinking AVAs. Oenophiles can follow the Sustainable Wine Trail in the region, which champions such venues as Tolosa, with its renewable energy sources and green farming practices. Back Downtown, snug bars such as Saints Barrel serve local and world wines with cheese and charcuterie plates. 

5. Fredericksburg, Texas
Texas’s wine country is some of the most picturesque in the US, home to quaint tasting rooms, limestone hills and fields of springtime bluebonnets. Make your base in the compact city of Fredericksburg (also known for its German heritage) and strike out on Wine Road 290. A fine choice of tour operators here means you’ll have your own guide (so no need for a designated driver) as you swing by veteran spots such as family-owned Becker Vineyards, whose standout is their fruity Condrieu-style Viognier. There’s also the Urban Wine Trail, which wiggles through Fredericksburg’s Downtown area, and you’ll find laid-back spots like Narrow Path Winery on Main, which styles itself as a French-inspired cafe. Best of all, you can get your wine to go as you move between venues.

Published in the US Cities guide, distributed with the March 2023 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK) 

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