It’s almost imperative that holiday dishes be paired with the right wine. As we travel through some of the finest vineyards and wine regions of US & Canada, you get to taste a few of the best in the world!
California’s Sonoma Region
Northern California’s gorgeous wine country features a combination of some of the most diverse and spectacular scenery this country has to offer. From the Mediterranean-like Dry Creek Valley to the fog-shrouded mornings that characterize the Russian River Valley, we travel to some of the top wineries of the country on our Sonoma Wine Country Trip.
Ferrari-Carano, Quivera, and Lambert Bridge are just a few of the many where you can enjoy a wonderful selection paired with some of the area’s finest Italian cuisines. The wine caves at Bella are well worth a side trip, and the lawn beneath their olive trees is the perfect place to relax while savoring the gorgeous view. Dry Creek Valley is one of the smallest appellations, but is revered for its diverse selection of wines ranging from Zinfandel to Mediterranean and Bordeaux varietals. The French, and later the Italians, were the first to plant vineyards in the region and a strong Italian influence remains.
We follow the east side of the Russian River as it winds south of Healdsburg and you are gliding through the quiet farmland of tiny Chalk Hill, a sub-appellation of the Russian River Valley AVA. Olive orchards, as well as vegetable and flower gardens, share the land with vineyards in this diverse agricultural region that thrives on the volcanic ash soil. Emerge on the other side of Chalk Hill in the Alexander Valley, famous for their outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon.
A variety of wineries such as Fieldstone, Hanna, and Alexander Valley Vineyards to name just a few, offer plentiful tasting options along the route. We get to sample the highly regarded Robert Young Estate Winery’s Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon, while enjoying a private tour of the vineyards and wine cave.
Canada’s Niagara Wine Country
The Niagara region sits at a latitude similar to that of Burgundy, and the warming influence from Lake Ontario contributes to the cultivation of wine grapes. Icewine put the Niagara Wine Country on the map, and now their Bordeaux and Burgundian-styled wines are making their mark in the worldwide arena. We visit wineries such as Angels Gate, Fielding, and Thirty Bench on our Niagara Wine Country Bike Trip to learn about winemaking along “The Bench,” also known as the Niagara Escarpment.
An in-depth private tour with the engaging founder of Flat Rock Cellars involves sampling several varieties of his wine. We taste the VQA table wines and Icewines that was crafted by artisanal winemakers at Inniskillin, who brought early fame to the budding wine industry on the Niagara Peninsula.
We also enjoy a private tour and tasting with the owner of Frog pond Farm, Ontario’s only certified organic winery.
The sprawling Hillebrand Winery or Pillitteri Estates, is a highly-rated family producer whose Sicilian heritage is evident in the winery as well as in the wines they produce. Their still wines are an outstanding example of the diversity and quality of wines.
We always marvel at the modern structure and forward-thinking approach to wine-making at Stratus during an in-depth private tour and tasting. Stratus prides themselves on their LEED certification and operation as a sustainable and innovative winery producing their own unique blends of wine.
Finger Lakes, New York
The Finger Lakes region has more than 100 wineries and is the largest wine producing region in the United States east of California. Due to microclimate the 11 lakes create, different varieties of grapes grow within that region. The Finger Lakes burst onto the scene with their signature Riesling, and is known for the fantastic whites. The Sojourn Finger Lakes bike trip features Lakewood Vineyards, a family owned winery that is lauded for the quality of their wine, as well as their sustainability practices.
Their most popular varieties include Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Cabernet-Franc, and Pinot Noir. Notably, their 2012 Pinot Gris was recently awarded with a Certificate of Excellence at The Jefferson Cup Invitational Wine Competition.
Sonoita Winery, Southern Arizona
While Arizona is not widely known for its wines, there are winemakers on this plateau that have been producing wines for nearly 30 years. About 50 wineries live in the Sonoita and Elgin wine trail of Southern Arizona, about 50 miles south of Tucson. We enjoy a tour and tasting at the winery that planted the first vines in the region.
Though Vermont lays claim to some of world’s best breweries the Green Mountain state is home to an unique collection of vineyards as well. The grapes have a very short growing season with temperatures frequently dropping below zero.
From mead (honey wine), fruit and grape wines, to ice ciders, there are almost 21 wineries in Vermont!
We visit the Shelburne vineyard on our Lake Champlain Bicycle Tour where the grapes are a result of pioneering hybridization work done by a mid-western farmer named Elmer Swenson, and subsequently by the University of MN, which cross-pollinated cold hardy native grapes with fine European vinifera.
The Winery was voted the Best Winery in Vermont, and are a regular winner at the International Cold Climate Wine Competition with some of their celebrated creations like Whimsey Meadow Rose and La Crescent!