While West Coast wineries receive their due, palatial vineyards yielding award-winning wines thrive up and down the East Coast too. The perfect place to take a long weekend or extended wine vacation is closer to home than you might think. The East Coast has become a global destination for those seeking lesser-known but equally enchanting vineyards.
Decide on your next East Coast wine vacation by picking one or more of the following regions to visit and explore. Each is flourishing with abundant rows of luscious grapes to complement a selection of family-friendly attractions. Luxurious accommodations accompany bucolic surroundings and historic landmarks where world-class wine is the prime attraction at these East Coast vineyards. These venues are perfect for weddings as well as family, group or couples’ getaways, especially for those residing near the East Coast.
Finger Lakes, New York
The Finger Lakes has earned a distinguished reputation among wine connoisseurs as one of the most underrated wine regions in the country. The region’s five larger lakes are surrounded by rich, fertile farmland and a microclimate perfect for harvesting flavorful, color-rich grapes. Many of the vineyards here are small or family-owned despite their growing popularity in the world of wine.
Home to over 100 wineries, this area features lake views, quaint villages, nature trails, and stunning luxury accommodations. Many of these can be found right on various vineyard grounds. April through December is the best time to visit this region for a wine-tasting weekend getaway.
In addition to enjoying spectacular wine, the Finger Lakes are known for their rolling hills at the point where the Adirondack and Catskill mountain ranges meet. When you’re not sipping award-winning wines or enjoying fine dining, travel to local ski slopes for winter fun that transforms into the perfect hiking during the summer. In addition to high-quality wine, shop at local outlets for cheeses, dried meats, and other picnic-perfect foods.
Shenandoah Valley, Virginia
Virginia has emerged as the fifth-largest wine producer in the U.S., with some of the most celebrated wineries on the East Coast. The Shenandoah Valley offers a plethora of award-winning wineries, breweries, and distilleries to spice up your winery weekend trip. Enjoy sweeping views of the Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge Mountains from stunning tasting rooms and elegant patios while sipping a glass of Virginia wine. You’ll find several vineyards with upscale lodging for a relaxing weekend escape.
It may come as no surprise that Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley is home to numerous historic landmarks perfect to incorporate into your wine-forward itinerary. The region is home to several museums, Civil War battlefields, and even Founding Father Thomas Jefferson’s beloved Monticello estate.
After a day full of wineries and fine dining, venture into nearby national parks where you can enjoy a nighttime adventure cruising the nationally-recognized Skyline drive, known for its breathtaking stargazing. The same fertile ecosystem that gives Virginia its award-winning red, white and blended wines, is also home to dozens of wildlife species. By day, the Shenandoah Valley is a haven for nearby state and national birdwatchers and other wildlife-seekers.
Newport, Rhode Island
Newport’s picturesque marinas, stunning coastlines, Gilded Age mansions, Colonial architecture, and whimsical streets make it a popular East Coast vacation destination. The coastal city is also a haven for wine lovers, with several local vineyards overlooking breathtaking acreage of conserved land. Whether you’re traveling with your significant other or a group, Newport makes for one of the best wine vacations on the East Coast with plenty to keep you busy. The best time to visit Newport’s wineries is during late spring and early autumn.
Newport plays host to a slew of annual summer and autumn wine festivals that make tasting just one of the many ways you can celebrate East Coast wine culture. Music, food, and grape-stomping will leave you smiling. If that isn’t enough, perhaps you’ll run into any number of wedding ceremonies taking place at Newport wineries any given weekend.
Dahlonega Plateau, Georgia
The Dahlonega Plateau region in Georgia is a newly recognized wine destination, with a well-established scenic wine trail along the Blue Ridge Mountains. The region features premier wineries, vineyards, and tasting rooms with impressive panoramic views of green rolling hills and ancillary offers, including exquisite dining options, events, trails, and live music. Many of Georgia’s wineries provide lodging for guests on resort-like campuses with luxury amenities for a pleasurable wine-centered getaway.
Atlantic County, New Jersey
Long a destination for beer enthusiasts with over 100 breweries and microbreweries throughout the state, New Jersey also has an impressive number of wineries dotted along its coastal regions.
The oldest and perhaps the most well-known in operation is the Renault Winery near Atlantic City. Renault Winery is well over a century old and is situated just an hour’s drive from some of New Jersey’s most popular summer beaches. If the beer and wine are not enough, Renault also does an American version of champagne that’s been produced at the vineyard since the winery opened its doors.
Don’t expect to venture too far from Atlantic County, as Renault boasts historic hotels and top-flight golf courses. In several cases, you can find manicured golf greens and palatial estate wineries catercorner from one another. During the winter months, enjoy the experience of tasting newly uncorked aged wines after a jaunt on an Atlantic County ice rink! For parents, it’s enough to consider leaving the kids home for a couples’ getaway but don’t worry—if they are tagging along, there are plenty of activities the whole family will enjoy.