Top 5 Wine-Tasting Destinations

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At a wine tasting, you can expect to meet and mingle with other wine enthusiasts, all of whom are there for the same reason: to sample wines and enjoy their tastes, fragrances and textures. A range of wines will be offered for your palate’s pleasure, with even the most basic of wines putting the boxed stuff in your refrigerator to shame. The social atmosphere found at all wine tastings will encourage you to interact with your fellow tasters, and perhaps learn a thing or two. Here are the top five U.S. wine-tasting destinations you’ll want to add to your “to-indulge” list.

5 Long Island (New York)

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Take a day trip out of New York City and head to Long Island’s little-known secret: a collection of nearly 60 small vineyards. Spread around Long Island, these vineyards provide many different wines to taste at over 30 wineries. Sample cabernet franc, chardonnay, pinot noir, pinot grigio and merlot, just to name a few. In addition to wine tasting, check out the wineries’ local events, which include themed festivals, art shows and even live music.

4 Finger Lakes (New York)

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Take a break from the hustle and bustle of New York City by grabbing a glass of wine at Finger Lakes, which is located in the western central section of New York state. Take your pick of over 100 wineries or three special wine trails. All of the wineries at Finger Lakes offer a broad selection of sweet and dry wines, as well as pinot noir, chardonnay and other classics. Many wine tours are hosted by expert wine tasters, and offer complementary food pairings for the ultimate wine-tasting experience.

3 Willamette Valley (Oregon)

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Hit the trails, but leave your covered wagon at home. Oregon’s Willamette Valley offers a range of hospitality choices, from B&Bs nestled in the countryside to sleek, urban hotels. Its wineries specialize in pinot noir, but you’ll also discover cabernet, zinfandel, merlot and riesling, just to name a few. Multiple wineries located from Portland all the way down to Eugene ensure plenty of wine tasting and fine dining enjoyment from north to south. And when you’re not touring wineries, you won’t want to miss out on art galleries, and the chance to explore the countryside with pedal bike tours and hot air balloon rides.

2 Napa Valley (California)

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Both TripAdvisor and U.S. News selected California’s Napa Valley for the No. 2 spot of must-visit wine-tasting destinations, so clearly the place is doing something right. Napa Valley’s wineries are home to a generous selection of wines, most notably chardonnay and pinot noir. Besides boasting more than 400 wineries, Napa Valley is your destination if you love fine dining, and would like some art to appreciate while wining and dining. And for those who aren’t going to go winery-hopping, Napa Valley also has plenty of spas, golf courses and even hot air balloon rides to offer.

1 Sonoma County (California)

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California’s Sonoma County, located close to Napa, is a must-visit if you’ll be on the west coast, as its wineries offer a wine for every occasion and palate. From a crisp chardonnay to a light zinfandel to a heady merlot, Sonoma County offers a large selection of wines that are best enjoyed when followed by a visit to one of many nearby spas. Sonoma County’s Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates, in particular, is worth a visit, as it boasts 120 acres of vineyards that are home to a culinary sensory garden, food and wine pairings with Chef Justin Wangler and a dedicated tasting room.

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