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Souther Williams Vineyard, Hendersonville, North Carolina
Photograph: Courtesy Souther Williams VineyardSouther Williams Vineyard, Hendersonville, North Carolina

Secret US wine regions you need to know about

Consider one of these under-the-radar US wine regions to sip and savor your favorites.

Written by Erica Lamberg
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Although your next wine-tasting experience may be a bit different than you’re used to, wineries, restaurants and wine-tasting rooms from the West Coast and the Midwest to the South and the Northeast are ready to welcome you with open palates and full bottles.

Well-known wine regions like Napa, Sonoma and New Jersey are bountiful with amazing offerings, but why not consider a less-known wine destination? We’ve done the research for you and have compiled a rich and flavorful list of secret US wine regions to discover on your quest to savor and sip.

Secret US wine regions

Bucks County, PA
Photograph: Courtesy Bucks County Wine Trail

1. Bucks County, PA

Located between Philadelphia and New York City, you’ll find Bucks County, a secret wine lovers’ retreat. Sip your way through the Bucks County Wine Trail’s hundreds of acres of vineyards, revel in beautiful views and sample the bountiful and distinct grapes of the area. Two stand-out wineries in the region are Crossing Vineyards & Winery, near where George Washington crossed the Delaware River; and Sand Castle Winery, which also overlooks the Delaware. Tour at your own pace or try the Tastings & Tours experience. For a culinary treat, make a plan to dine at the River House at Odette’s with wine tastings and an impressive wine menu.

Lubbock, TX
Photograph: Courtesy Burklee Hill Vineyards

2. Lubbock, TX

The wide-open plains and dry climate of West Texas create the ideal terrain for wine-grape growing. Lubbock is an up-and-coming and hidden-gem wine destination, offering vino drinkers an exciting wine-to-glass experience. As the leading producer of wine grapes in Texas, with over 80 percent grown on the Texas High Plains, award-winning bottles are poured both downtown at Burklee Hill Vineyards and McPherson Cellars and outside of city limits at the breathtaking Llano Estacado Winery. Fun fact: Musician Buddy Holly was born in Lubbock, so between tastings learn more about his life and music at the Buddy Holly Center.

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Temecula Valley, CA
Photograph: Courtesy Robert Renzoni Vineyards

3. Temecula Valley, CA

Approximately 80 miles south of Los Angeles, is Southern California’s largest wine producing region by volume, Temecula Valley. It comprises 33,000 acres, of which approximately 2,500 are planted with wine grapes. There are currently over 40 wineries throughout the Temecula AVA and more than 80 growers who farm vineyards throughout Temecula Valley. Visitors can find light and crisp whites, rosés, luscious and buttery Chardonnays, rich, age-worthy reds, and classic-method sparkling wines, as well as sweet and fortified selections. Here are three wineries to consider when visiting: Bottaia Winery, Robert Renzoni Vineyards or Leoness Cellars.

Newport, RI
Photograph: Courtesy Greenvale Vineyards

4. Newport, RI

Focusing on crisp white wines that pair perfectly with Newport’s famous seafood, the region’s wine growers on 'The Classic Coast' enjoy the cool microclimate offered by the location on the southern end of Aquidneck Island. Greenvale Vineyards is family-owned, overlooks the Sakonnet River and produces varietals such as albariño and vidal blanc. Newport Vineyards has seen the most growth, featuring a multi-million dollar renovation that included a new restaurant and brewery with true farm-to-table culinary creations. Nearby in Little Compton is Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyards, which features 30-acres of vineyards that produce wines including the White Lotus made of 100 percent Gewürztraminer.

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The Finger Lakes, NY
Photograph: Courtesy Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery

5. The Finger Lakes, NY

This area of New York State is becoming a buzzy destination not only for its glacier-formed lakes and 200+ waterfalls, but for its wine offerings too. The region produces a perfect micro-climate for Rieslings, and this American Viticulture Area produces about 90 percent of New York's wine. There are more than 130 vineyards and five wine trails to sample in the area. Start at Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery, named for the pioneer behind the region's vinifera movement and also plan a visit to Living Roots, a new Rochester urban winery that’s bringing South Australia flavors to the Finger Lakes.

Hendersonville, NC
Photograph: Courtesy Souther Williams Vineyard

6. Hendersonville, NC

Only 30 minutes south of charming Asheville, Hendersonville is a quintessential mountain town known for its abundant apple orchards. The area received federal designation as Crest of the Blue Ridge AVA in summer 2019. Warm days and cool nights paired with sandy loam soil create ideal growing conditions for wine grapes. Seven wineries now grow Vitis vinifera grapes in regional vineyards where you can sip an Old World-style vintage while overlooking sweeping views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Plan a stop at one of these three wineries: Souther Williams Vineyard, Marked Tree Vineyard, or Stone Ashe Vineyard.

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Bloomington, IN
Photograph: Courtesy Butler Winery & Vineyards

7. Bloomington, IN

Bloomington is home to Indiana University, one of America's most beautiful college campuses, a mecca of global cuisine, with over 350+ restaurants, and it’s also a small town with an impressive wine scene. The Midwest town, about an hour from bustling Indianapolis, is home to the award-winning Oliver Winery, Indiana’s largest and oldest winery, which is also celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. There's also Butler Winery, which offers locally-grown and hand crafted Indiana wine.

Richmond, VA
Photograph: Courtesy Ashton Creek Vineyard

8. Richmond, VA

If you want to explore Virginia’s wine offerings, consider a trip to Richmond, where you'll find wineries in pastoral Virginia settings. Wineries there include Ashton Creek Vineyards, offering peachy, honeyed Willie’s White made from Traminette grapes; James River Cellars which features wine slushies, canned wines composed of Vidal Blanc and Chardonel and more; Plus New Kent Winery and Skippers Creek Vineyard. Another area highlight is the Jolene Family Winery, which is a lakeside escape featuring Chambourcin, a drier French-American hybrid with lavender aromas or fruitier Vidal Blanc.

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Dahlonega, GA
Photograph: Courtesy Frogtown Cellars

9. Dahlonega, GA

Georgia’s wine country has eight destination vineyards and seven tasting rooms on the historic square. From hillside mansions to Appalachian-style lodges, each vineyard has its unique grapes, grown and cultivated to possess a distinct tasting profile. These aren’t the expected sweet southern wines; Standouts include Wolf Mountain Vineyards and Frogtown Cellars. For an adventure, take the private wine hike at Montaluce Winery or interact with farm animals at Cavender Creek Vineyards. Many of the wineries also offer unique lodging options like Cavender Cree's lovingly restored antique log cabin dating back to the 1820s.

Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA
Photograph: Courtesy Scheid Vineyards

10. Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA

Merely a one-square-mile seaside village, this charming California spot boasts a thriving wine scene. The European-style village treats visitors to a Charles Dickens-inspired wonderland, filled with flavorful experiences from the Monterey County region. Carmel-by-the-Sea includes 17 wine tasting rooms, wine bars and bottle shops where the aspiring or experienced wine-taster will find several opportunities to explore and learn more from local winemakers. Be sure to try the Carmel-by-the-Sea Wine Walk, a free, mobile guide that will take you on a walkable wine tasting journey to discover experiences at wine tasting rooms throughout Carmel-by-the-Sea.

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