10 Great Wine-Region Getaways for Fall

by , SmarterTravel Staff
Chalone Vineyards During Fall (Photo: Monterey County Convention & Visitors Bureau)
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on October 4, 2013. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: Asheville, Cayuga, Dara Continenza, destination, Michigan, Monterey, Oregon, Sonoma, Texas, Virginia, Westport, Yakima.

(Photo: Monterey County Convention & Visitors Bureau)

Autumn is prime time to tour the vineyards that dot the nation's every corner, when temperatures are cool and foliage is at its most flamboyant. From the rocky coast of New England to the lush valleys of Washington State, find grape-stomping events, harvest festivals, cook-offs, and more. Here are 10 wine destinations to get your (grape) juices flowing.


Russian River Valley, California

Popular year-round because of its moderate climate, the Russian River Valley is best visited during crush season, when trellised grapes are plucked and harvest festivities kicked off (and when fewer travelers are in the area than in summer). Located in the very heart of Sonoma County, this world-class wine region churns out cool-climate varietals shaped by temperate Pacific Ocean fogs. Smooth Pinot Noirs and rich Chardonnays have made the valley famous, and you've likely heard of some of the region's notable wineries, such as Kendall-Jackson, Sonoma-Cutrer, and Korbel. Smaller cellars and boutiques also abound; search for the right fit on the Russian River Valley Winegrowers website. Besides wine, autumn travelers can find fine dining and luxe accommodations, especially in Healdsburg, an epicenter where three of California's major wine regions (the Russian River Valley, Dry Creek Valley, and Alexander Valley) meet. Active visitors can take leisurely bicycle rides alongside vividly colored vineyards on Westside and Eastside roads or kayak in the Russian River, lined by crimson and gold leaves.

Fall Events: The Sonoma County Harvest Fair (October 4–6) includes wine, beer, and cider tastings; chef demos and workshops; and, best of all, the World Championship Grape Stomp. Admission is free.

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