Support your local wine regions. Even if you don’t care about wine, the experience will be fun and you’ll be supporting a local business. Wine is now made in every state, so you don’t need a plane ticket to visit ‘wine country’. If you’re lucky enough to live near the vibrant wine regions of Virginia, Maryland, Texas Hill Country, Michigan’s Old Mission, the Leelanau Peninsula, and of course New York’s Finger Lakes and Long Island, Wine Country is… It’s just a day trip away. Don’t neglect urban wineries. What it lacks in scenery, it makes up for in atmosphere.
The pandemic has dramatically changed the winery experience. More wineries charge for tastings and require reservations. (Admittedly, the pandemic may have accelerated this change, not caused it.) So any visit to wine country, even one that’s close to you, requires planning and budgeting. (Pro Tip: Check your local winery association’s website for travel information and a list of wineries and their opening hours.)
When you go, look for mom-and-pop away from the touristy fake chateaux and Tuscan-style vanity wineries. Explore the Lompoc Wine Ghetto in a secluded industrial park in Santa Barbara County or the new (opening in 2021) Bacchus Landing in Healdsburg in Sonoma County. In such places you can find craftsmen who focus only on the quality of their wines, without pomp and pomp.