You believe the only legs worth watching are the ones that slide down the inside of a swirling wine glass. It’s common knowledge to you that bouquets have nothing to do with roses, and vintage dates are more important than your own mother’s birthday. If you’ll go anywhere for a perfect pinot, a classic cabernet, or a marvelous merlot, start packing. No, you’re not headed for Napa Valley—been there, done that. These five U.S. cities are much better candidates for putting a new twist in your corkscrew:
1. Charlottesville, Virginia
Thomas Jefferson was never satisfied, and his taste for perfection put this lovely southern city on the map with a wealth of beautiful vineyards. Mr. Jefferson would be the first to raise a toast to the smashing success of his small operation, which originally included 14 wineries. Today, Albemarle County staggers under a heavy harvest that makes it a mecca for oenophiles. You’ll find a perfect balance between traditional and contemporary vintages, but don’t miss out on the micro-brewery action. Charlottesville serves up serious suds too, so be sure and bring along your favorite stein.
2. Columbus, Ohio
You don’t think of Columbus as a big city? More than 780,000 locals will disagree and then smile knowingly as you sample something from one of the area’s fruitful vineyards. Tailgating at a Buckeyes’ game involves rowdy fans and plenty of brew, but even the most macho dudes twirl a mean corkscrew. Yes, this city loves its vino, and it loves to share. Granted, the vineyards aren’t located downtown, but that’s where you’ll find the Brewery District filled to the brim with wine selections eager to impress your discerning palate.
3. Louisville, Kentucky
Here’s a little wine trivia for you: Which city is home to the country’s first commercial vineyard? If you need a hint, think bluegrass and sluggers. Yep, it’s Louisville. This multi-horse town is so dedicated to its local vino that even the Derby has an official wine. That would be Bourbon Barrel Red in case you’re interested in impressing the natives with your ever-expanding expertise. The bourbon reference isn’t a typo. Many of the area’s wineries age their best in old bourbon barrels—what a way to wet your whistle.
4. Albuquerque, New Mexico
Now that Walter White’s infamous career is over, it’s time for folks to gain a new respect for Albuquerque based on something a little easier to savor. Grapes love growing here under the vast blue sky, and rumor has it that they’re addicted to the area’s crystal spring waters (just look out for strange rocks in the stream). They aren’t the only fruits hooked on this sunny spot; cherries, peaches, apricots, and even cranberries give it up for local fermenting. You’ve never tasted a craft wine? It sounds too sweet? Well, park your RV, and prepare for a devilishly delicious delivery of dry at its best.
5. Del Rio, Texas
Are you ready to say “adios” to civilization? Head on down to this river city for an Italian wine experience with a Spanish accent. The area’s vineyards produce everything from refined roses to prized ports, but that’s not surprising. Just look at the map—this is the Rio Grande Valley! Everything grows here, and if you talk with a Texan, they’ll have you know that it grows bigger too. Have you ever wondered what cowboys drink when they think nobody’s looking? Find out with a run for the border, and treat yourself to a bottle of Texas tradition that dates back to the 1800s.