Travel from Florida to Alaska, and it's likely that you can find a winery in just about every state that you pass. Whether your taste runs to sophisticated wines or tongue-teasers like Hawaii's pineapple-flavored sparkling wine, intoxicating adventures await along wine trails that dot the nation.
Following a wine trail doesn't merely give couples opportunities to sample a variety of vintages; it also puts them in the midst of some of the country's prettiest scenery and chances to explore it. Often a winery tasting includes sampling local fare, making it a true gourmet experience. Food ranges from regional delicacies and cheeses sold in on-site gift shops to elegant restaurants that serve multi-course meals paired with award-winning wines.
Some wineries charge a nominal fee for tasting; others are complimentary. And you can expect everything from self-serve bottles and plastic cups to formal tastings with a wine educator who will pour your wines into crystal glasses.
A number of wineries have on-site restaurants as well as romantic inns that enable overnight stays. Some specialize in hosting romantic vineyard weddings.
If you have grape expectations for your next vacation, research to see what wineries are in your destination to learn about upcoming wine and food festivals, wine tasting classes, and locations and maps of wine trails. In some wine towns, you can even participate in grape stomping at harvest time.
And as a bonus of this kind of trip, when you treat yourselves to a romantic vineyard vacation, you'll likely avoid young children and be in the company of other adult couples.
Grand Valley, Colorado
Recommended Winery: Bring your honey to the Meadery of the Rockies in Palisade, Colorado. In a category of its own, mead is created by fermenting honey. Mead inspired the word "honeymoon," which originally referred to the tradition of drinking honey wine for an entire moon cycle to ensure a fruitful marriage.
What to Try: Choose one of the fruit blends, available in apricot, blackberry, cherry, peach, raspberry, and strawberry flavors. All the products contain 100% pure, raw orange blossom honey.
Where to Stay: The Wine Country Inn offers romance packages that include a bottle of private label wine, house-made truffles, and glasses to take home.
Napa Valley, California
In October 2017, wildfires burned more than 245,000 acres in Northern California, causing widespread damage to the region. Fewer than 20 of the 900 wineries in Napa and Sonoma counties suffered significant damage, and the majority of those are now reopened. One memorable way to experience them is aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train, which consists of restored Pullman rail cars from the early 1900s and offers day trips along a 36-mile route and a gourmet Romance on the Rails dinner.
Recommended Winery: Riverhouse on Napa's Main Street serves its wines in an art and antiques gallery. Tasting experiences combine wines with a bento box lunch or lavish eight-course omakase tasting menu.
What to Try: The aptly named Paramour Proprietary Red from Blackbird Vineyards.
Where to Stay: The newest place to stay in downtown Napa, The Archer, is surrounded by more than 20 wineries in this walkable destination.
Finger Lakes, New York
Spread like a hand across the center of the state, the Finger Lakes are surrounded by rich farmland that provides an ideal terroir for growing cool-climate grapes. More than 30 wineries dot the Seneca Wine Trail along the largest of the skinny north-south lakes.
Recommended Winery: In addition to its affordable tastings and tours, Glenora Wine Cellars is home to a restaurant that serves locally sourced fare and has an inn overlooking the vineyards.
What to Try: Rieslings reign in this part of the state, and Glenora produces seven types, from dry to bubbly.
Where to Stay: Popular with couples, the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel stands at the southern tip of the lake. Its restaurant and bar feature an extensive selection of local and California wines.
Willamette Valley, Oregon
Oregon is home to some 600 wineries, most of them small producers of red wines on the same latitude as Burgundy, France. Some of the winemakers are located along the Pinot Path, which lies on Route 99-W between Newburg and McMinnville, about an hour south of Portland.
Recommended Winery: Willamette Valley Vineyards offers affordable tasting flights and a complimentary daily tour. Once a month, the winery hosts a four-course dinner that pairs cuisine devised by its wine chef with fruits of the vine.
What to Try: Full-bodied, garnet-hued pinot noirs.
Where to Stay: The Allison Inn & Spa in Newberg epitomizes modern luxury. Treat yourselves to a signature deluxe king room, which not only features a gas fireplace and spa tub, but also a cozy upholstered nook and balcony or terrace overlooking the rolling hills. And its Jory Restaurant is known for creatively showcasing the flavors of the Willamette Valley.
Texas Hill Country
In central Texas and bordered by Austin to the east and San Antonio to the west, the Texas Wine Trail is home to some fifty-plus wineries. Thanks to the sunny and dry climate, a variety of grapes, from Blanc du Bois to dark purple Malbecs, flourish here.
Recommended Winery: Open daily, Becker Vineyards farms over 84 acres of fruit and has two locations for tasters, one at the estate and the other in downtown Fredericksburg. Inexpensive tastings are available to walk-ins and tours are limited to small groups.
What to Try: At the International Wine Awards, Becker Vineyards' 2015 Cabernet Franc Reserve was named Best Texas Red in 2018.
Where to Stay: A short drive from San Antonio, the full-service La Cantera Resort & Spa is an AAA Four-Diamond Property with a strong sense of place inspired by Texas' vast King Ranch. Romantics can revel in privacy in one of the villas. These provide access to a private pool as well as your own golf cart for tooling around the 550-acre hilltop property.
Virginia Wine Country
Virginia’s 300-plus wineries begin outside of Washington, D.C., nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, winding past Colonial Williamsburg, and surrounding the rolling hills of Richmond. In fact, there are few spots in Virginia where you'd be more than half an hour away from a winery. More than 20 wine grape varieties are grown here, and winery settings are uniformly lovely, overlooking vineyards and valleys.
Recommended Winery: The tasting room at Bogati Winery in Loudon County is open seven days a week, year-round and visitors can savor an affordable classic tasting of select wines guided by a wine educator or a self-guide wine flight, which includes tastings of a wine from each of the wine categories.
What to Try: Bogati's 2013 Black Label Chardonnay, lauded in Robert Parker's Wine Advocate for its "fresh feel and a crisp edge."
Where to Stay: As close to perfection as a place can get, the Inn at Little Washington has won every major accolade for romantic gourmet getaways in America, including AAA Five Diamonds for both its 24 exquisite accommodations and restaurant cuisine. Courses on the Gastronaut's menu, complete with sophisticated wine pairings, present a medley of flavors as pleasing to the eye as to the palate.
Door County, Wisconsin
This scenic peninsula north of Green Bay is a popular spot for oenophiles, who can visit eight wineries along the Door County Wine Trail. Couples who want to sample a variety of the wines produced here can sign up for a Premier Wine Tour aboard the Door County Trolley, which includes lunch.
Recommended Winery: Inside a restored daily barn, Lautenbach’s Orchard Country Winery offers free daily tastings and tours of its 100-acre orchards from May 1 through October 31.
What to Try: Door County is known for growing sweet and tart cherries, and summer is prime cherry-picking time. Although the local wineries produce reds, whites, and ports, cherry wines are unique to this region.
Where to Stay: Door County tends to be very family friendly, but there is one place designed just for the pleasure of adults: Sundara Inn & Spa. Seriously focused on relaxation, Sundara offers several packages for couples that tempt with amenities such as sparkling wine, an indoor picnic beside your gas fireplace, an oversize bathtub that fits two, and spa treatments.
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
North Carolina's wine trails wind through small towns in the mountains, along the coast, and in the Piedmont region. Winston-Salem boasts some twenty-plus wineries within 20 miles of this small southern town.
Recommended Winery: Llove llamas? Divine Llama Vineyards in the Yadkin Valley has a farm full of the gentle animals. They can be saddled up to carry your wine and a picnic lunch on a two-mile hike to a creekside aerie overlooking the vineyard and Pilot Mountain. The tasting room is open Friday through Sunday.
What to Try: Red Rita Rosé, named in honor of the matriarch of the llama herd, blends Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc.
Where to Stay: In downtown Winston-Salem, Kimpton Cardinal Hotel seems made for fun. Public areas include a rec room with a basketball court, bowling alley, and even a twisty slide. But it's not all kidstuff—every night the hotel hosts a complimentary wine hour from 5 to 6 p.m. On weekends, take a seat at Katharine's brunch buffet, where you get to build your own bellinis.