Where is the Napa Valley of the East?
August 18, 2008 7:24 AM   Subscribe

Planning a wine tour vacation in the spring (late April) and wondering where the Napa Valley of the Eastern US is?

We live in Virginia and have a great variety of wines in the western region. We will be planning the vacation with my brother and his fiancee who live in Kentucky. Anywhere within 10 hours or so inbetween and around those regions is fair game. A few things:

Obviously we don't want to be traveling 5 hours during the day just to get to 1 winery so anywhere that has a large variety in a clustered location would be great.

Other things to do near those locations would be a bonus. I know Lexington, VA has a lot of great options for wine along with a lot of tourist attractions and spots. Things along that line would be great.

Is Spring a bad time of year to be doing this? I know little about the seasons and timings but I wondered if most wineries would still be open with a previous year's vintage or if they would be closed while planting/harvesting/etc. Any insight into this?
posted by genial to Society & Culture (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Where in Kentucky does your brother live? There's several vineyards located in the Bluegrass Region (Central Kentucky), and you'd have the added benefit of being close to Kentucky's Bourbon Trail.
posted by magstheaxe at 7:51 AM on August 18, 2008

Best answer: Any winery worth its salt will have tasting year round. There's a tiny chance one of the best reserves at a winery will be sold out by spring, but that's the only operational downside.

The only wine country in America that can compete with Napa Valley is the Finger Lakes region of New York. It has a ridiculous number of wineries (some VERY quality) in close proximity. And it's in the East! Unlike Napa, though, the climate is miserable (April will be snowy or cold and rainy).

Unfortunately, it's a long ten hours from Eastern Kentucky and most of Virginia.
posted by aswego at 8:08 AM on August 18, 2008

Best answer: We did a Finger Lakes wine tour a couple years back and loved it, but aswego's right about the time of year...the Finger Lakes are more of a summer tour destination. If you do change your dates and try that, I highly recommend the tastings at Bully Hill, which are a lot of fun, and the outdoor patio at Heron Hill*.

* The Blue Heron Cafe is closed for the 2008 season, but I presume will reopen next year. My friends and I used to be the featured photo for the cafe in the photo gallery on their site.
posted by JaredSeth at 8:52 AM on August 18, 2008

Southern Ontario is great, if you don't mind a border crossing.
posted by Kellydamnit at 11:37 AM on August 18, 2008

Charlottesville, VA has a number of excellent vineyards. It's also a great food and music town and there's plenty to do in and around the city (hiking, tubing, Monticello, UVA, not too far from Richmond) . And I can think of no place in the world prettier than Charlottesville in late April.
posted by Faithos at 11:56 AM on August 18, 2008

Response by poster: Great answers so far! My brother lives in Louisville and we're very centrally located in the Southern part of Virginia (about an hour from Richmond, hour from Lynchburg...hell about an hour from everywhere!). So far I'm starting to think that barring a trip to NY, Virginia may still be our best bet. For some reason I had expected to hear about more vineyards along the Appalacians (I guess I assumed the mountainous region would lend itself well to the crop) but perhaps not.
posted by genial at 1:14 PM on August 18, 2008

There's always Long Island, the East End has quite a few wineries, should be decently de-wintered by then (although by no means summer), and there's lots of other stuff to do if you need a break from grapes.
posted by pupdog at 2:01 AM on August 19, 2008

Shoot, genial, I'm in Louisville! If you're coming up to this area to visit your brother, make him take you across the Ohio for the Southern Indiana Wineries. I know from experience that it's possible to hit several of them in one day. Check out the map here.

Huber's, Best Vineyards, Indian Creek, and Turtle Run Vineyards are all pretty close together. You can also head up US Hwy 62 and hit Madison, Lanthier, The Ridge, and Thomas Family Vineyards--those are even closer together, but it's a farther drive from Louisville.
posted by magstheaxe at 11:32 AM on August 19, 2008

The Hudson Valley.
posted by wile e at 4:21 PM on August 20, 2008

Response by poster: I think we've decided to push the trip to June and do Finger Lakes. Then at some point I'll get them down my way and they can properly experience what Virginia has to offer. Thanks again to everyone for the input!
posted by genial at 10:25 AM on September 11, 2008

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