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 Wine.com 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!
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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 Resort, Las Alcobas, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Meadowood 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.
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.
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 Valley, Carmel Valley Ranch, Casa 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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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
Comfortable, sanitized, and luxurious vehicles
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
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.
Founder & President of Nine Muses Travel