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Wine Buying Guide of Top North American Wine Regions

This article was written before the spread of the Glass Fire. Please contact me before visiting Northern California, as properties below have been affected. Kindly consider supporting California vineyards using the links below. My heart goes out to the residents, businesses, and firefighters throughout this tragedy, and my intent with sharing this piece is to shine a light on the importance of these close-knit wine communities.

It's no wonder wine sales are strong in 2020, and some of the world's finest wine regions are right here in the United States and with our neighbors in Canada. Wine tourism is among my favorite travel themes because food and wine pairings are so delicious, the history and science behind wine creation is fascinating, and the geography of the best wine regions is truly spectacular. Here in the U.S., California is our star wine producer with over 4,300 wineries, though Oregon has fantastic wines too and is more affordable as a tourist destination. There are many other renowned wine regions in our country, and I've listed some below, including three in New York State, which pairs well with Ontario for a Northeast vinicultural tour.

Nine Muses Travel takes wine tourism to a whole other level with specialist wine guides, vineyard visits  tailormade to your tastes and preferences, private wineries closed to the public, wine blending classes,  dining experiences with wine makers, and even wine tastings with horseback riding or biking tours. (Don't worry, you can get a ride back to your hotel.) You'll have access to 24/7 concierge support who can hep with emergencies, or simply make restaurant reservations. Tourism activity is an important way communities recover economically, so you'll feel even better sipping varietals on your next wine adventure!

I partnered with to help you enjoy some amazing wines, until you can go try them in person!

  • Take the guesswork out of buying & learn your wine style

  • California wines

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  • Napa Valley wines

  • Sonoma County wines

  • California Central Coast wines

  • Washington wines

  • Oregon wines

  • Save on top rated U.S wines under $20

  • Stylish corkscrews

  • Host your own wine tasting with these educational sets

Here are some top recommendations for fun and delicious wine experiences across North America!

Napa Valley, California

Napa is probably the most famous U.S. destination for wine, and it's great for a classical touring experience plus phenomenal Michelin starred dining options. Napa County has 16 different viticulture regions and typically produces heavier, fuller-bodied wines like cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, and merlot. You'll love staying at Calistoga Ranch, an Auberge ResortLas Alcobas, a Luxury Collection HotelMeadowood Napa Valley, or in a lovely four star property like North Block Hotel or Wine Country Inn. We can arrange private villas or residences in Napa for you too.

Top Experiences

  • VIP Napa Valley wine tour

  • Napa Valley Wine Train

  • Horseback ride & tasting

  • Hike & sip excursion

  • Chef-led private cooking class

  • Private chocolate workshop

  • Iconic hot air balloon flight

Sonoma Valley & Coast, California

This is a huge, very beautiful region and is usually the second California wine area after Napa that comes to mind for most people. Where Napa wineries can be found right on the main road, Sonoma is more of a countryside driving pleasure amid rolling hills and offers unique foodie experiences. This region has very different temperatures that produce its pinot noir and chardonnay wines. Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley, Chalk Hill, and Dry Creek are all in this picturesque area. Stay at Bodega Bay Lodge to get away from it all, try the Farmhouse Inn, or wait until the end of this year for the opening of the new Montage Healdsburg.

Top Experiences

  • Sonoma Valley VIP wine tour

  • Point Reyes food & farm tour

  • Olive grove tastings - with food/wine pairings

  • Guided kayaking eco tour in Bodega Bay

  • VIP racetrack driving in Sonoma

  • Redwood zipline adventure

  • Horseback ride & wine tasting

  • Healdsburg food & wine tour

  • Healdsburg's wineries by bike

Central Coast, California

Santa Barbara is technically in this region, but it merits its own mention below. We're talking here about Carmel, Monterey, Big Sur, and Paso Robles - another very large area. This region is more mountainous with varied landscapes and those dramatic cliffs along iconic Highway 101. The local wineries here are more off the beaten path and provide exquisite culinary experiences. Stay at Bernardus Lodge & Spa, Carmel ValleyCarmel Valley RanchCasa Palmero at Pebble Beach Resorts or for adults-only options chose Post Ranch Inn or the all-inclusive Ventana Big Sur, an Alila Resort. Hotel Cheval is a lovely small boutique option.

Top Experiences

  • Central Coast winery tours

  • Private beekeeping experience in Carmel Valley highlands

  • Big Sur hiking adventure

  • Private tour of Hearst Castle

  • Carmel-by-the-Sea food tour

  • Heli sightseeing and wine tasting

Santa Barbara / Santa Ynez Valley, California

Easily accessible from Los Angeles by a less than two hour drive, Santa Barbara is known as the American Riviera. Do make time to visit Old Mission Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara Botonic Garden, and stop in Solvang for a walk through this charming, Danish-inspired town. Wine regions here include Santa Maria Valley, Santa Ynez Valley, and Los Olivos where you'll find marvelous pinot noir and chardonnay. I've personally spent the night at Belmond El Encanto and The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara and enthusiastically recommend both as well as Four Seasons Resort, Santa Barbara and Hotel Californian, which is the best for easy explorations of downtown Santa Barbara.

Top Experiences

  • Santa Ynez Valley Wine Tour

  • Private wine blending class

  • Solvang food & wine bike tour

  • Culinary tour of Santa Ynez Valley

  • Guided vineyard yoga session

  • Horseback ride & picnic lunch

  • Santa Barbara urban wine trail with wine expert - no driving required

  • Channel Islands eco adventure

  • Whale watching - year round

Williamette Valley, Oregon

Here's a great travel tip for you. Visiting Oregon's Williamette Valley is similar to Northern California - for half the price. You'll have tremendous food and wine experiences and postcard-perfect coastlines without having to spend top five star amounts. Stay at The Allison Inn & Spa, the area's quintessential hotel. Or you can make this a day trip and stay a short drive away in the Columbia River Gorge or in Portland at the Nines, a Luxury Collection Hotel. If you're driving to Bend or Cannon Beach, definitely include wine experiences in the Williamette Valley!

Top Experiences

  • Exclusive private winery & food tour

  • Heli vineyard hopping

  • Spring truffle hunt

  • Wine blending workshop

  • Sightseeing tour of the Columbia River Gorge & Mount Hood

  • Oregon Coast driving tours

  • Crater Lake & Bend's brewery tours of the great beer scene!

Canada: British Columbia & Ontario

British Columbia is the second most developed wine region in Canada after Ontario, but it keeps a lower profile since most of the wines here aren't exported from Canada. Discover new wines in Fraser Valley, which is close to Vancouver and makes for great day trips. Or choose from the 185 licensed wineries of Okanagan Valley, closer to central British Columbia. Wines here are similar to Oregon and California Central Coast wines. Stay in Vancouver at Fairmont Pacific Rim or Rosewood Hotel Georgia in Vancouver. Over in eastern Canada, Niagara-on-the-Lake and its distinctive wines (I love their ice wines!) pair really well with an epic wine tour of New York State or New England. In Ontario, stay at Pillar and Post Inn & Spa or Prince of Wales - gateways to wine country.

Top Experiences

  • VIP wine tours in the Okanagan and Fraser Valleys

  • Prince Edward wine tour

  • Wine blending experience

  • Wine adventure by bike

  • Helicopter vineyard lunch with Niagara Falls

Other Prime Wine Destinations

  • Long Island, NY

  • Hudson Valley, NY - Whitecliff wines are my personal favorite

  • The Finger Lakes, NY

  • Texas Hill Country

  • The Monticello Wine Trail & Shenandoah Valley, VA - rich U.S. history in this region

  • Rio Grande River Valley, NM - lovely sparkling wines from rocky soil

  • Walla Walla, WA - several hours drive from Seattle

  • Verde Valley, AZ - a developing wine region

  • Orange County & Temecula, CA

Suggested Itineraries

  • Sonoma to Napa, Food & Wine Lover: Sonoma, Napa

  • California for Couples: San Francisco, Napa, Big Sur, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles

  • Perfect Pacific Northwest: Seattle, The San Juan Islands, The Williamette Valley, Portland

  • Vancouver to Victoria: Canadian family adventure

Nine Muses Travel works with exceptional tour operators who add unparalleled value for my clients.

  • Expert guides for private tours: historians, naturalists, artists, unique locals

  • Exclusive experiences

  • Comfortable, sanitized, and luxurious vehicles

  • Custom-designed routings

  • 24/7 real-time support

  • Competitive rates at four and five star properties with strict health and safety protocols

  • Deep destination knowledge

  • Flexible and worry-free cancellation policies, including 100% refunds until shortly before travel

Contact Nine Muses Travel when you're ready to savor your next culinary adventure, learn more about me and what I can do for you!

I creatively customize luxury travel highlighting local arts and culture, history, and cuisine for intellectually curious clients longing to feel deeply inspired by exciting destinations, culinary delights, and authentic cultural experiences on a life-changing, joyful journey of discovery.

Danielle Dybiec

Founder & President of Nine Muses Travel


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