Unexpected U.S. Wine Regions

We’ve rounded up five wine regions off the beaten path and flush with adorable inns, fab tasting rooms and, of course, amazing wines.

By Kristine Hansen

From a lakefront community in northern Michigan to Malibu, a spot typically celebrated more for surfing than for wine, surprising areas across America are harvesting grapes.

Texas Hill Country

Lavender fields thrive near the guesthouse at Becker Vineyards, in Stonewall, Texas.  Visit the tasting room to shop for handmade soap, lotion and other lavender products between sips of the winery’s popular viognier. A short drive away you’ll find more than 50 wines to sample at Messina Hof Hill Country’s newest location, in East Fredericksburg. Although their latest venture is only four years old, the Bonarrigo family’s vintner roots date from 1800 in Sicily. If you’re determined to try every variety, consider staying a few nights in the romantic Manor Haus Bed and Breakfast.

Malibu, California

Last summer this beachside community was officially recognized as the Malibu Coast AVA (American Viticultural Area). At Cornell Winery & Tasting Room, on Mulholland Highway, you can savor local wines (including Dolin Estate’s award-winning chardonnay) paired with cheese or charcuterie. For a twist on a beach day, visit Rosenthal—The Malibu Estate Wines’ tasting room, along the Pacific Coast Highway, where on summer weekends there’s live jazz and food trucks. Year-round the tasting room sells wine by the bottle, glass or flight.

Traverse City, Michigan

Traverse City is said by some to be evolving into the Sonoma of the Midwest, thanks to an influx of celebrity-connected wineries. Madonna’s parents have opened the Old World–inspired Ciccone Vineyard & Winery, while actress Amy Smart and HGTV host Carter Oosterhouse recently launched Bonobo with Mario Batali’s input on the tasting room menu. Aerie, on the 16th floor of Grand Traverse Resort & Spa, uncorks many Michigan bottles, from a cherry wine to a blanc de blanc sparkling.

Hermann, Missouri

Ninety minutes from St. Louis, you can hop on the 20-mile-long Hermann Wine Trail. In the 1800s German settlers began planting grapes here, and the area was one of the largest wine-producing regions in the world until Prohibition mandated the uprooting of the vineyards. Now seven wineries have tasting rooms, including Adam Puchta Winery—the oldest vineyard in the area, dating from 1855—and OakGlenn Vineyards & Winery, which hosts weekend concerts (April–November only) and runs an on-site B&B called Carol’s Cottage.

Mesa County, Colorado

The Mile-High state has two wine regions: the Front Range surrounding Boulder and Denver, and Grand Valley AVA, just west of Grand Junction. Grand Valley is the bigger of the two. You can sip honey-based wines at Meadery of the Rockies or take in the canyon views while picnicking at Canyon Wind Cellars, which is home to 35 acres of grapes planted in 1991 and produces three distinct labels. Its Anemoi wines, named for the Greek gods of the wind, are made from sustainably grown grapes.

Adam Puchta Winery
1947 Frene Creek Rd., Hermann, Missouri; 573-486-5596; adampuchtawine.com
Grand Traverse Resort & Spa, 100 Grand Traverse Resort, Acme, Michigan; 231-534-6000; grandtraverseresort.com
Becker Vineyards
464 Becker Farms Rd., Stonewall, Texas; 830-644-2681; beckervineyards.com
Bonobo Winery
12011 Center Rd., Traverse City, Michigan; 231-282-9463; bonobowinery.com
Canyon Wind Cellars
3907 N. River Rd., Palisade, Colorado; 970-464-0888; canyonwindcellars.com
Ciccone Vineyard & Winery
10343 Hilltop Rd., Suttons Bay, Michigan; 231-271-5553; cicconevineyard.com
Cornell Winery & Tasting Room
29975 Mulholland Hwy., Agoura, California; 818-735-3542; cornellwinery.com
Meadery of the Rockies
3701 G Rd., Palisade, Colorado; 970-464-7899; meaderyoftherockies.com
Messina Hof Hill Country
4545 Old Reliance Rd., Bryan, Texas; 979-778-9463; messinahof.com
OakGlenn Vineyards & Winery
1104 OakGlenn Place, Hermann, Missouri; 573-486-5057; oakglenn.com
Rosenthal—The Malibu Estate Wines
18741 Pacific Coast Hwy., Malibu, California; 310-456-1392; rosenthalestatewines.com
  • NOTE: Information may have changed since publication. Please confirm key details before planning your trip.
  • Published: November 2015