You don't have to travel all the way to Europe to wander some of the finest wine trails on Earth. No matter where you turn in North America, you're bound to find a region where people love to sip and savor and talk about wine. America is home to some pretty remarkable self guided wine trails, if you know where to look for them.
Know before you go
Sure, you can have a dandy time sipping vintage wines that you know nothing about, but chances are you'll enjoy your American wine trail experience better if you understand a few things about wine tasting and the vocabulary that goes along with it.
Enroll in a wine-tasting class at your local community college and attend every session.Check out a book or three about the art of wine tasting from your local library. Spend time with your most wine-savvy friends to get a good grasp of the basics of wine appreciation.
Once you know how to sip discerningly and when to use words such as bouquet, nose, legs and vintage, you'll be prepared to fully embark upon a wine trail adventure in America.
Get a guidebook and sharpen your pencil
Don't worry that carrying a guidebook and making notes in the margins will make you look like a rank beginner. Even the most seasoned wine experts are known to tote a guidebook with them wherever they wander. Fodor's says that there is always something new to learn about wine, and that guidebooks are a great resource for folks wishing to learn all about local terroir, tasting and tradition.
That said, we also remind you that a guidebook is just that: a guide. It's not a law book, and there will be times when a recommendation by a local or or your impromptu instinct takes you off the beaten guidebook path onto a new and unexpected wine trail adventure.
Download a wine trail app to plan your wine tasting excursion
AmericasWineTrails notes nearly 300 distinct wine trails in the USA. They can tell you all about exceptional wine trail adventures in each of the 48 contiguous states. Download the AmericasWineTrails mobile app and use it to make note of phone numbers, hours of operation, driving directions and other pertinent info to put together a wine trail tour that's just right for you.
AmericasWineTrails can lead you on a spectacular multi-day wine trail tour that takes you across five western states. Known as the Nuevo Spanish Wine Trail, this remarkable self guided wine tour explores very special wine regions in Texas, Arizona, California, Oregon and Washington.
Find wine trails where you least expect them
If you're in Sonoma or another area in California Wine Country, you expect to find dozens of different wine tours. If you're in a state such as Colorado, Missouri or Arizona, you might be totally amazed and surprised to find even one wine trail. That's one of the things that's so thrilling about the hobby of wine trailing. You never know when or where a wonderful wine tasting opportunity may appear.
If one friendly local offers you a clue about where to find the cave cooperative or caveau des vignerons, follow it. In wine country, a cave cooperative is a gathering place where grape growers and vintners come together to talk wine and share bottling secrets. In some European regions, the cave cooperative will fill your empty bota bag or other to-go container with wine. On an American wine adventure, your best bet is to purchase a beautiful bottle of red, white or rosé at each winery along your favorite trail.
If you find yourself in Missouri with a hankering for good wine and upscale adventure, plan to spend at least a weekend exploring the Hermann Wine Trail. Here one may marvel at the massive underground cellars of Stone Hill Winery & Restaurant or bring the kids and pets for an afternoon at Röbller Vineyard just outside New Haven.
Open year 'round, Oak Glen Winery offers wine trail adventurers live entertainment most Saturday and Sunday afternoons from June through September. Every Saturday is grille day at Oak Glen. Bring the family and enjoy sizzling sausages, piled-high pizza pies, tempting cheese platters and of course, flavorful wine beverages for the adults.
Madison Finch likes to travel as often as she can. Currently restricted by work and a young family, Madison is spending more time exploring her home country; the grand old U.S of A! Look out for her travel tales online.