When one dreams of North American wine, your mind might wander down to Napa Valley, California. Instead, we’ll take you into the heart of Ontario, continue westwards to the Okanagan Valley, and do a circle tour of the best off-the-beaten-track wineries within the USA.
Whether you choose one destination or hop on an RV to all 15, there’s no doubt you’ll impress all your friends back home with your newfound wine knowledge and unique travel adventures.
Prince Edward County, an island on the north shore of Lake Ontario, is truly an escape from the city rush (only a 2-hour drive from Toronto) and a quieter alternative to exploring the Niagara wine region. Wow yourself with a trip to Sandbanks Winery with multiple picturesque spots on the estate to try their wines, including an outdoor fire pit. If you prefer a smaller venue, dip into The Grange of Prince Edward for a sip and see where the staff will pre-pack picnics for you to enjoy on the farmyard grounds.
It’s not often that you come across a place that subtracts the tasting fee from the price of a bottle, but that’s what The Vibrant Vine in Kelowna is all about! Nestled in the valley, this winery treats visitors to a fusion of excellent wines (including ice wine), 3D art and live music on the weekends. Sumac Ridge Estate Winery is another must-see: it was the first estate winery to open in British Columbia with a cabernet merlot that keeps locals and tourists coming back for more.
When you think of Michigan, you might think of cars, not wine. But Michigan’s glacial soil is sandy with good drainage, making for good grapes and happy wine drinkers. From Old Mission to Traverse City, here are some top-notch wineries to enjoy along the way: Chateau Chantal Winery & Tasting Room, Bowers Harbor Vineyards, and Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery to name a few. You may want to book a bed & breakfast stay at The Inn at Chateau Grand Traverse for after, just in case!
Linger a little longer up north to see the leaves turn their seasonal shade of yellow, orange, and red. Speaking of red, there’s a bold glass of it waiting for you to swirl and savour in the Empire state. First stop? Thousand Island Winery, where you can try upwards of 22 types of wine, including wine slushies! Rest up and enjoy the Hudson River view at Benmarl Winery in Marlboro. Red Newt Cellars in Hector is another must-see, especially if you’re hungry. Drop in for their well-reviewed three courses tasting meal.
The appeal of New England not only lies in their buttery lobster dishes and clam chowder. Wine is an up-and-coming east coast “Maine” attraction. Tucked between Cape Cod Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, you can taste lovingly produced wine on the beach at Truro Vineyards or tour a 200-year-old barn while sipping on estate vintages at the Cellardoor Winery & Vineyard, an upscale winery and event space that hosts art nights and holiday bazaars.
Natchez Trace Parkway is a winding scenic drive through Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee. It loosely follows the path of European settlers, natives, slave traders, and soldiers. Knock a few swigs back for old time’s sake with a quick stop in Tennessee. Amber Falls Winery & Cellars is a hidden gem off-the-trail offering raspberry wine alongside bites of dark chocolate. Grinder’s Switch Winery is nestled in the backcountry and affords you the unique opportunity to sip languidly in the sunshine or chug swiftly in a log cabin.
Oregon is home to nearly 800 wineries and is the fourth-largest state producer of wine, thanks to the passionate growers who work tirelessly to bring grapes to glass. The pinot noir and pinot gris season kicks off in September to November in Willamette Valley—perfect timing for snowbirds! Willamette Valley Vineyards has winemaking down to a science and welcomes travellers to enjoy the fruits of their labour any time of year. Be sure to also check out Winter’s Hill Estate, where the third-generation owners welcome dogs to come along and offer equestrian wine tours in the countryside.
It goes without saying that you should not drink and drive! Many vineyards will offer guided tours that include transportation, so take advantage of this service. Most importantly, don’t forget to contact your travel insurance representative to find the best plan for your needs.
Oh, the places you’ll go if you’ve read this far and haven’t started drinking the good stuff yet. Happy wine touring!
We strongly recommend that you purchase coverage before departure. Although some of our insurers will cover you if you are already on your trip, they may exclude any pre-existing medical conditions, limit the amount payable on your policy or impose a large deductible.