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Wine Guide: Up & Coming USA Wine Regions

They say home is where the heart is, and as it turns out, the same rings true for wine. For far too long, American consumers looked past the border for all of their vino-consuming needs, almost oblivious to the fact that insane amounts of great wine were being produced right here on their home turf. Thanks to some seriously stellar wine production along the country's West Coast (thanks, Napa, Sonoma, and the Willamette Valley!), American wine started to finally get the attention it deserved.

While we still hold these regions near and dear to our hearts, we're always on the hunt for the next big thing. Check out these six up and coming USA wine regions below for an in-the-know look at what's to come!



Santa Ynez Valley, California

While many still head north for their California wine needs, we're looking south, specifically at Santa Barbara. The larger region is comprised of two main valleys: the smaller, more northerly Santa Maria Valley, and the larger Santa Ynez Valley to the south. With over 60 grape varieties planted in the region, there's truly something for every palate.

High elevations and chilly winds in the western portion of the region (think, Sta. Rita Hills) create optimal conditions for cool climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, while warmer inland temperatures make for killer Rhone blends and Zinfandels. The drive from LA to the Santa Ynez Valley will take you about two and half hours-- but with a solid playlist and some good car snacks, we promise the stunning coastal road trip is worth it.


Finger Lakes, New York

OK, so the Finger Lakes have been on some wine consumers' radars for awhile now, but we really feel the region doesn't get the credit it deserves. The appellation is the largest AVA in all of New York State, with most production taking place around Cayuga, Seneca, Keuka, and Canandaigua (pronunciation!?) Lakes. Dr. Konstantin Frank, a Ukrainian scientist with a PhD in Plant Science, is credited for the success of vitis vinifera in the region, after successfully finding a way to make the varieties thrive on grafted rootstock.

Today, approximately 100 producers are successfully making wine in the region, where cool climate white varieties (Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir) dominate. Craft brew lovers will find a lot to love about this upstate region, too. Head to the Lakes in early October for some seriously jaw-dropping scenery.

Texas Hill Country, Texas

While it may sound strange, the Texas wine scene is actually having quite a moment. Despite becoming an established AVA in 1991, only recently has the region been getting some serious recognition. The region is ideally situated just north of San Antonio and west of Austin, making the wineries easily accessible to visitors of both cities. With over fifty soil types covering nearly 9 million acres, Texas' second largest region certainly has a lot to see. The region's many hills and valleys create a vast array of growing conditions, with French, Italian, and Spanish varieties scattered amongst the 50+ wineries.


Columbia Gorge, Oregon/Washington

This unique AVA straddles both Oregon and Washington, comprised of the land surrounding the Columbia River Gorge. With an array of microclimates and dramatic differences in topography, it's no surprise that this little region is known as 'the world of wine in 40 miles.' Like always, terroir reigns king, though kind of on a whole 'nother level. The region is broken down into four counties, with two found in each state; Hood River and Wasco in Oregon are found in Oregon, while Skamania and Klickitat are found further north in Washington state. The region is characterized by low rainfall, strong winds, and unique volcanic soils. Plenty of grapes thrive in the differing conditions, with Syrah, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and other French varieties dominating. Hello, everything we want to drink.


Virginia

Modern-day winemaking in Virginia is arguably the biggest thing to happen to the East Coast's drinking scene for a loooong time, hence, why we're giving the entire state its own little section. Although, Virginia isn't entirely new to wine production; colonists began crafting wines of their own upon settlement in the 1600s, though the state's painfully hot summers made winemaking difficult. Today, nearly ¾ of Virginian wine is produced with French varieties, including Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, and Viognier. Not sure where to start? Central and Northern Virginia are home to some of the bigger known AVAs, including Monticello AVA and Shenandoah AVA, though with well over 200 wineries in the state, you'll most likely find yourself within the vicinity of one.


 
Middle Rio Grande Valley, New Mexico

Wine in New Mexico? You bet. The Middle Rio Grande AVA encompasses a thin strip along the valley, experiencing a continental climate of warm days and cool nights. French varieties are pretty common, and impressive elevations help preserve natural acidity within grapes. For killer sparkling wines, check out the array of sparklers from Gruet, one of the state's greatest bubbly producers. Pair with tacos, burritos, and all of your preferred bean-filled guilty pleasures. Tex-Mex and wine… is there really anything more you need out of life? #Adulting

Whoever told you that you had to leave the country to drink great wine was clearly mistaken. Whether you're an East Coast native or West Coast for life, a local, up and coming wine region is hiding just around the corner. For your next wine-induced getaway, look no further than the next domestic flight to one of these killer, under the radar regions. Check 'em out before the secret's out! Red, white, and rosé anyone?