From the Eastern Seaboard to the heart of the Midwest to the Pacific West Coast, there are so many wonderful places to tour, taste, and stay. Discover vineyards perched on mountains, solitary canyons, and beside a rushing creek; and barrels stacked in industrial buildings on a car-lined urban street. Wine touring can introduce you to many wonderful places, people, and fun adventures.In this issue, we introduce you to three wine destinations that may be completely new to you. In many ways, Asheville, North Carolina; Galena, Illinois; and Solvang, California, couldn’t be more different from each other. But in the most important way, they are quite alike. They’re all great places to visit and they’re all home to many wonderful wines. So plan your next getaway or wine purchase with these three destinations in mind!
1| Asheville, North Carolina
Get ready to fall in love with this beautiful town nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Asheville is a city in motion. It offers a perfect blend of the arts, music, history, and Southern charm in a vibrant, walkable town. Visit one of downtown’s 30-plus galleries, duck into a unique boutique, or take a guided foodie tour that lets you taste some of the most exciting foods in the South. Speaking of tours, Asheville offers many, including historic trolley tours, ghost tours, pub crawls, and even Segway tours. Downtown Asheville is just the beginning. Asheville’s mountain setting makes it a top outdoor adventure destination with natural waterslides, fantastic mountain bike trails, and spectacular ridgeline hiking trails. Asheville is also home to the world’s only Foodtopian Society, an organized group of 17 active farmer’s markets, more than 200 restaurants, and more. Regardless of your interests, there is one “must” for every itinerary. Just a short drive from downtown Asheville, Biltmore Estate, George Vanderbilt’s 250-room home and much, much more, attracts one million visitors each year. You can spend days here, enjoying the historic house, fun outdoor activities, and even wine taste at Biltmore Winery in Antler Hill Village. Biltmore Estate has restaurants, shops, and historical exhibits. And if you simply don’t want to leave, no problem—there is also a four-star inn on the grounds. Asheville, North Carolina, is not just a “must visit,” it’s a “must experience.”
2| Galena, Illinois
Long known as a bucolic getaway to residents of Chicago, Illinois, and Dubuque, Iowa, Galena territory in the northwestern corner of Illinois offers a relaxed pace and the perfect assortment of quaint shops, nineteenth- century architecture, and wineries to fill your getaway weekend. The historic town of Galena lies on the Galena River, which flows into the Mississippi. Take a river cruise on an old-time riverboat, or fish for trout in the mighty Mississippi. History buffs will appreciate the many small museums and historic sites Galena has to offer. There’s an authentic 1897 blacksmith shop in town, as well as the Ulysses S. Grant Home State Historic Site, which still has its original furnishings. Plus, 85 percent of the city’s buildings sit in a National Register Historical District. Galena is a Mecca for artists, and many sculptors, painters, photographers, and glassmakers have found their muse in the rolling hills and tranquil river valleys. Visit some of the many galleries and studios that celebrate their work. There are three wineries in the area, each offering breathtaking views and distinctive wines grown from local grapes. Galena Cellars alone offers more than 40 distinct wines. For a special treat, visit Galena Cellars’ vineyard, just a short drive from town. In Galena territory, bed & breakfasts, guest houses, and small inns are many. For a real treat, choose one on a hill overlooking downtown Galena and enjoy the easy walk to and from town.
3| Solvang, California
This charming town boasts 300 days of sunshine each year, 150 boutiques, stores, and galleries, and one dozen tasting rooms. It’s located less than an hour’s drive from downtown Santa Barbara, so it makes for an ideal day trip. When you first arrive, you may be surprised at the architecture. Solvang was settled by Danish immigrants and to this day, it celebrates its roots. Hop aboard the Solvang Trolley for a historic horse-powered tour, or harness the power of your friends on a self-guided surrey bicycle tour. Avid cyclists often bring their bikes and head out on various loops along outlying country roads before exploring the town. Shops offering Danish delicacies (including fresh marzipan pastries), traditional costumes, and trinkets line the streets. Be sure to stop into Taste of the Valleys, an enchanting wine bar/tasting room/shop located under the Mole Hole and owned and operated by William James Cellars. Try a wine flight before you go to dinner, or sit by the fire and stay a while. There’s often live music at night. Route 246 offers a full menu of farm-to-table cuisine and a great selection of local wines. If you’re worried about turning into a pumpkin, there is lodging nearby. The Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort, located just west of town, gives you enough outdoor activities for a full vacation. Or stay in town at a friendly Danish-themed motel, offering you comfortable lodging and walking distance to all those great downtown shops and tasting rooms.
As seen in the issue Spring 2012 issue of Touring & Tasting Magazine.
Santa Barbara County
The progress in production size and quality of wines made in Santa Barbara County over the past few decades is one of California’s great wine success stories.
The Illinois Wine Region is very diverse, with many options for visitors. Metropolitan cities and beautiful forests, luxury resorts or a quaint bed and breakfast.
North Carolina is home to more than 100 wineries, a number that is quadruple the number of wineries found 10 years ago.
Touring Our Roots: North Carolina, New York, and Virginia
Explore the unique wine regions of North Carolina, New York, and Virginia.
The winery is located on the legendary Biltmore Estate, a majestic 8,000-acre property in the Blue Ridge Mountains, created by George W. Vanderbilt in 1895.
William James Cellars
Robin Bogue, founder of William James Cellars, puts a lot of energy into getting wines the attention they deserve.
Galena Cellars has brought an impressive number of exceptional wines to the table. In the 2011 Illinois State Fair wine competition alone, the winery received 18 awards, including the Governor’s Cup for its Lacrosse wine, a white table wine produced from Illinois-grown fruit.