Winding Around  America’s Wine Trails

By Joan Rykal

When you think of wine regions in the US most likely California’s Napa and Sonoma valleys come to mind or possibly the entire west coast as more than 90 percent of America’s wines come from western states. But in reality, all 50 states produce wine and major production occurs in such states as New York, Michigan, Ohio and even New Mexico.

And while these areas account for only a small percentage of US production, there are plenty of wineries and wine trails to explore all across our great country.

Enter the world of enotourism and enjoy a glass or two as TrailBlazer hits the wine trail this month to uncover some of the best places to enjoy America’s wines. By the way, enotourism is defined as “tourism whose purpose is, or includes, the tasting, consumption or purchase of wine near its source.”

FLORIDA

Certainly not the first state you’d think of as an alternative to the west coast wine producers, but Florida does have 20 wineries sprinkled around the state.  Conveniently, four are close to several Encore/Thousand Trails east coast options.

San Sebastian Winery

San Sebastian Winery, who get their grapes from their vineyard in Clermont, offers tastings as well as tours of their 18,000 square foot production facility located in St. Augustine.  Tours are offered daily and the facility is child-friendly.

Located in Satsuma, Florida, Log Cabin Farm and Vineyard and Winery specialize in muscadine wine made “by hand.” Visit the winery to find out exactly what that means and don’t miss their “Annual Old Florida Harvest Festival” held each August.

For more Florida wineries, visit www.visitflorida.com.

Encore’s Bulow RV Resort is nearest to the wineries listed above.

INDIANA

Indiana has six different wine trails throughout the state and some even consider the Hoosier State to be the new Napa Valley. Indiana has seen a growth in wineries going from just nine in 1989 to more than 80 today. The trails are spread throughout the state but we’ll highlight those conveniently located to our campgrounds. You can get a description of all six trails by visiting www.indianawines.org.

Chateau Thomas Winery

The Indy Wine Trail is within minutes of downtown Indianapolis and features four wineries, all of them award-winning. Buck Creek Winery, Cedar Creek Winery, Chateau Thomas Winery and Easley Winery are all near the state capital.

Buck Creek Winery’s tasting room features 30 wines in rotation and the winery also plays host to live music and food truck events. On August 12, the winery will host a  5K/10K Red White & Rose Wine Run.

Cedar Creek is not only a winery, but also a brewery and distillery while Chateau Thomas recently unveiled Slender, a carb-free wine!

From Chateau Thomas Winery

The Cardinal Flight Wine Trail features five wineries in Central Indiana. Blackhawk Winery and Vineyard is located on farmland so in addition to the vineyards there are also cows and chickens. Don’t miss

the Summer Pairing events which feature live music and wine pairings.

Traders Point is the newest winery on the Cardinal Flight Wine Trail and features a dozen wines and offers tastings.

Horseshoe Lakes RV Campground is your best bet for the Indy Wine Trail while Indian Lakes RV Campground is best for the Cardinal Flight Wine Trail in Central Indiana.

KENTUCKY

Milla Nova Winery

When you think of Kentucky in terms of liquor production, most likely you think of bourbon, but Bullitt County, which is actually home to parts of Kentucky’s famed Bourbon Trail, features four wineries as well and all are part of the Bullitt Wine & Whiskey Trail. Wineries include Brooks Hill Winery, Forest Edge Winery, MillaNova Winery and White-Meyer Winery.

Brooks Hill sits atop Brooks Hill, of course. In addition to great wines, they offer a free summer concert series where you are welcome to bring a picnic basket and enjoy the winery and its great views. Try the Blackberry & Blueberry which is a blend of blackberry and blueberry wine or the Chocolate Razz dessert wine which blends raspberry wine and chocolate.

White Meyer was Bullitt County’s first commercial vineyard when it opened in 1996. Family owned and operated it produces award-winning wines from Kentucky grapes. For tasting room hours and other event information visit their website.

For more information on the Wine & Whiskey Trail, visit www.travelbullitt.org.

Thousand Trails Diamond Caverns RV Resort & Golf is the closest location to the above mentioned wineries.

MICHIGAN

Michigan’s success with grapes is largely due to its lake-dominated climate. The Mitten State has 125 wineries but we’ll focus on the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail. You can find a listing and more information on Michigan wineries at www.michigan.org/wineries.

The Lake Michigan Shore Trail has more than a dozen wineries within a short distance of each other.

 

Fenn Valley Vineyards

Fenn Valley Vineyards and Wine Cellar is open year-round for tastings and their tours are designed to “strike a balance between education and entertainment.” The tours last just under the two hour mark and include tastings throughout. Or you can just choose to enjoy a glass of wine on one of the winery’s many patios. On October 17, the winery has a 10K/5K/1-Mile Walk scheduled across a course that winds through the vineyards and an adjacent farm.

Cody Kresta Vineyard and Winery is steeped in the tradition of three generations of wine making. Learn about their wines and the grapes which are grown right on the estate in their Tasting Room which is open year-round.

Mark your calendars for the weekend of September 8-10 and enjoy the Wine and Harvest Festival in Paw Paw, Michigan. This family friendly event includes tastings, a parade and an all-ages wine stomp,

Thousand Trails Bear Cave RV Campground is the best home base for enjoying the wineries of the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail.

NEW YORK

The Hudson Valley in New York is home to the Dutchess Wine Trail, so named for the county in which the wineries are located, and while it only features two wineries, the bucolic countryside drive between them is not to be missed.

Millbrook Vineyards and Winery

Educational tours and tastings are on the menu at Millbrook Vineyards and Winery, which has been touted as “the Hudson Valley’s flagship winery.”  A 5K Wine Run through the vineyards is set for August 26 while the 27th Annual Harvest Party is scheduled for October 14.

While Millbrook is considered the flagship, Clinton Vineyards has been called “the jewel in the crown of the Hudson Valley.”  Set on 100 acres, they offer tastings from Champagne to Rose to Riesling.  Check out their website for not only more information on the vineyard but also some great recipes and wine pairings.

Thousand Trails Rondout Valley RV Campground is most conveniently located to the Dutchess Wine Trail.

TEXAS

Enjoy the beauty of Texas Hill Country while you explore more than 50 wineries scattered across this picturesque part of the Lone Star state.

Grape Valley Vineyards

Hop aboard the tram and explore the vineyards while touring Grape Creek Vineyards. You can taste wines direct from oak barrels as well as learn about the history and winemaking process of this Fredericksburg vineyard. The winery also includes Stoutt’s Trattoria where you can enjoy lunch Monday through Saturday, dinner on Fridays and Saturdays or Sunday brunch. Live music events are also on the schedule.

Dry Comal Creek Vineyards in New Braunfels is considered a pioneer in Black Spanish winemaking, which refers to a specific grape that is resistant to a bacteria than can be deadly to grapevines. Dry Comal’s Black Spanish wines are a consistent award-winner.  The winery’s Tasting Room is open seven days a week.

For more information on the Texas Hill Country wineries visit www.texaswinetrail.com.

Thousand Trails Medina Lake RV Campground is your best choice for a location near the Texas Hill Country wineries.

VIRGINIA

“Good wine is a necessity of life for me.” This quote has been attributed to perhaps the most famous Virginian, Thomas Jefferson. And Jefferson was indeed an advocate for wine making in Virginia and the state now has more than 250 wineries.  We will focus on the Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail which has eight wineries along the trail.

Animal lovers will appreciate the reason behind the name of the Dog and Oyster Vineyard – according to the vineyard’s website the name comes from the rescue dogs that reside in the vineyard to protect the grapes from deer and other animals. In addition to the vineyards unique guard system, they also have a Wine Stand, which is their version of a tasting room.

 

Ingleside Plantation Winery

Ingleside Vineyards has been producing its award-winning wines since the 1980s and has over 18 types from Sparkling to Sangiovese. Open daily, they offer tastings and tours and were noted in both Coastal Living Magazine and Southern Living as a wine destination not to be missed. Their Summer Music Series, which runs through September 3, features live music and food trucks.

Thousand Trails Chesapeake Bay and Thousand Trails Harbor View RV & Camping Resort are conveniently located to the wineries of the Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail.

If you’re travelling to a location not listed here, don’t worry – wine trails in all states can be found at www.americaswinetrails.com and your next destination can be found at thousandtrails.com.

Cheers, and happy traveling!

Categories: Local Guides