Did you know that wine is now produced in all 50 of the American states!! That’s right, even in both Hawaii and Alaska, incredible right? So, as you can imagine there are a serious number of wineries in the USA. Which should we visit? I hear you ask. Well, luckily we have a few friends around and about and so we asked if they had any favourite wineries. Here are a few of our ‘wine friends’ recommendations;
RIDGE – 17100 MONTEBELLO RD, CUPERTINO, CA 95014
The history of Ridge Vineyards dates back as far as 1885 in Monte Bellow Ridge, with the Ridge Vineyards being founded in the early 1960’s. This Californian vineyard specialises in premium Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfadel and Chardonnay wines. Voted Number 1 in thedailymeal.com‘s blog 101 best wineries in America 2017, this winery is proving very popular with a whole host of beaming reviews on tripadvisor.com. Offering tours, tasting and sales, the official website can be found here.
AU BON CLIMAT – 4665 SANTA MARIA MESA RD, SANTA MARIA, CA 93454
Jim Clendenen, the “Mind Behind” Au Bon Climat since 1982, creates internationally acclaimed Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs of balance and intrigue. Set amongst acres of vines in northern Santa Barbara County this winery only opens it doors to the public twice per year! When it does open it’s doors to the public however, it promises to be a rather special occasion. With over 80 different wines including hard to find, private labels and current releases (amongst many others) being available to not only taste but to purchase too. The event also includes a hot lunch created by the wineries culinary team, headed by their very own cellarmaster, Enrique Rodriguez. At only $20 per person, which not only includes the fore mentioned but also a commemorative wine glass Au Bon Climat promises to be the ultimate wine tasting experience. For more information see here.
SMITH-MADRONE – 4022 SPRING MOUNTAIN RD, ST HELENA, CA 94574
Founded in 1971 by Stuart Smith. The name Smith-Madrone comes from combining the founders’ name with the madrone trees among the estate. Vineyard manager Stuart is joined by his brother Charles as head winemaker and Sam Smith, Stuarts son, as assistant wine-maker. Visits to Smith-Madrone are by appointment only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at either 11:00am or 2:00pm. Visits include a group tasting and tour, hosted by head winemaker Charles Smith himself. For more information click here.
DOMAINE DROUHIN – 6750 NE BREYMAN ORCHARDS RD, DAYTON, OR 97114
Few winemakers have the opportunity to make wines from the same grapes grown 7,500 miles apart from one another. Fourth generation winemaker, Véronique Drouhin has been doing this in Oregon since 1988 and her family’s estate dates back to 1880 in Burgundy. The Domaine Drouhin team say that their goal is to craft wines naturally with gentle treatment and minimal manipulation.’ (source:domainedrouhin.com)
All of the wines preduced here are made by hand, in their four-level gravity flow winery. Upon visiting, guests are guided through this famous four-story gravity flow winery before being guided through a seated comparative tasting of five wines, which includes Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Drouhin Oregon and France along with a selection of fine cheeses. Tours are available every day bar Wednesday at 10am. For more information on this beautiful winery and all they have to offer see here.
SOTER VINEYARDS – 10880 NE MINERAL SPRINGS RD, CARLTON, OR 97111
Strong advocates of environmentally friendly farming, respecting the land, environment and sustainability, Tony and Michelle Soter planted their first organic grapes back in 1985. Never straying away from their morals and ideals, they consistently produce wines of the highest caliber in a way that treads softly on the earth.
They say ‘Our vineyards are perched on a hill surrounded by hundreds of acres of lush grassland, forests, riparian corridors, and majestic oaks. The vineyards are just a small part of the magic of this place. Though the property boasts 30 pristine acres of Pinot Noir and two acres of Chardonnay it is also home to hundreds of sheep and chickens, quail, donkeys, alpacas, a llama, dogs, fruit orchards, abundant gardens, grassland, forest and people; all of which come together to make Mineral Springs Ranch a unique and indescribably special place, alive with energy and creativity.’
Tastings are available by prior arrangement. For more information on this forward thinking, eco-friendly winery, see their official website.
JUDGE PALMER – 1830 JAMESON RD, HEALDSBURY, CA, 95448
If you are looking for a refreshingly different attitude towards wine then look no further than the Judge Palmer Vineyards. They state ‘The role of the Judge in a courtroom is to maintain order and ensure that justice is done while remaining impartial. We feel that the role of the winemaker should be the same – an expert yet unbiased observer whose goals are balance and authenticity. Hence, our approach is natural and minimalist, allowing the vineyard, varietal and vintage to testify for themselves in the finished wine.
Judge Palmer produces wines from Bordeaux varieties with a focus on single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. We carefully consider our vineyard sources to find the most distinct sites and work collaboratively with our growers to bring you the absolute best that Napa and Sonoma have to offer. Try a bottle with a jury of your peers.’
Fancy this no nonsense appraoach? Check out the website here.
BONNY DOON VINEYARD – 450 CA-1, DAVENPORT, CA 95017
Just looking at the Bonny Doon website you get a feel for the individuality and unique edge of this vineyard. They state that they are ‘On a spirited adventure to make naturally soulful, distinctive, and original wine.’ Founded in 1983 by Randall Grahm, who is also the winemaker as well as the founder, this is another example of a very environmentally thoughtful vineyard, being one of a very few that offer the complete transparency of ingredient labeling their bottles. Their winery is open all year round, and walk ins are happily accepted. For larger groups of 6 or more reservations are advised. For more information on this rather special vineyard, see here.
STE CHAPELLE – 19348 LOWELL RD.CALDWELL, IDAHO 83607
Founded back in 1975, this beautiful winery credits it’s success to the perfect growing conditions that Idaho offers. Moving to their current facility in 1978, this vineyard expanded rather rapidly currently producing Riesling and Chardonnay as well as Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. They are also currently working to expand their ‘soft‘ wines, which currently include ‘soft’ red, ‘soft’ white and ‘soft’ huckleberry. The tasting room at Ste. Chapelle, which is inspired by the famed Ste. Chapelle medieval Gothic chapel in France, is openly daily to the public. The Ste. Chapelle vineyards even offer themselves as a wedding venue. What a beautiful wedding that would be. For more information on the Ste. Chapelle winery, take a look at their official website.
With so many states producing so much wonderful wine, it is always difficult to choose which winery to visit. We hope that this little guide will help you. And please be sure to let us know of any personal favourites of your own. Have fun!
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