March kicks off wine trail season in many locations throughout the country, and it’s the perfect time for vineyards to showcase what they foresee to be this year’s greatest hits. Here are a few areas to visit for great wine tastings and tours, along with some Forbes Travel Guide Star-Rated hotels so you can make a trip of it.
Where to drink: Oregon’s Willamette Valley is home to several small, family-run wineries known for their excellent pinot noirs. There are about 200 wineries in the area, but many of them don’t have tasting rooms. Those that do are intimate and friendly, offering a personalized experience where it’s possible to meet the vintners, especially in the low seasons.
Where to stay: Nestled in the valley is Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Allison Inn and Spa. Accommodations are spacious (rooms start at 490 square feet), all with spa-like bathrooms, a private terrace or balcony, window seats and gas fireplaces. It is also home to a Four-Star spa and one of the most celebrated toques in the area, executive chef Sunny Jin. The best part is that the resort is often able to arrange personal tastings at wineries without an official tasting room. The inn is located in Newberg, about hour’s drive from Portland International Airport and 45 minutes from downtown Portland.
Where to drink: Mason-Dixon Wine Trail in York County is already greeting wine lovers with Tour de Tanks events going on every weekend through March 30. Visit more than 20 wineries and one distillery to learn more from the winemakers themselves, take exclusive tours, enjoy food pairings and taste great vintages straight from the barrel.
Where to stay: B.F. Hiestand House offers relaxed elegance in a beautifully renovated 1887 Victorian home located in the picturesque river town of Marietta. You have the option of staying in a luxury room, cottage or suite. Listed on the National Historic Registry of Homes, the bed and breakfast is operated by innkeepers Pam and Dallas Fritz. It is 45 miles from Gettysburg, and within about 30 miles of Lancaster, Hershey, York, Harrisburg and Pennsylvania Dutch Country. When you recover from the wine tastings, check out other activities near the historic B&B, like kayaking, canoeing, fishing, hiking and horseback riding.
Where to drink: If you have a taste for sweet vino, then a tour of Kennebunkport, Maine’s wine scene is what you need. Maine wines are made mainly from apples, blueberries, pears and raspberries, and many wineries have tasting rooms. In addition to wine, the area is celebrated for its food and award-winning chefs — including chef Jonathan Cartwright of Five-Star The White Barn Inn Restaurant — many of whom are showcased during the Kennebunkport Food and Wine Festival in June.
Where to stay: The White Barn Inn sits along the Kennebunk coastline and its central location caters to whatever the mood, whether it be shopping, gallery visits or just enjoying the beautiful outdoors during warmer months. Choose from a selection of treatments in its in-house spa (try the signature Bath Ritual, a soak in an infinity-edged tub, followed by a Swedish massage and lotion application), and a fine-dining experience offered at The White Barn Inn Restaurant, which serves regional food with a bit of European flair. You can stay in one of the garden or waterfront cottages, or select one of the rooms in the main house. The White Barn Inn is located 1.5 hours north of Boston and 30 minutes south of Portland, Maine.
Photos Courtesy of CWK Photography, The White Barn Inn, Allison Inn and Spa, Mason Dixon Wine Trail