9 Wine-Country Getaways That Are More Affordable Than Napa
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Think “wine-country getaway” and Napa Valley may auto-populate in your vacation-planning imagination. But, the wine world is a big one, full of vineyards beyond Napa and humble tasting rooms hiding out in lesser-known, more-affordable destinations.
Santa Rosa, California
Also in Northern California, Napa’s next-door neighbor Sonoma County is home to 425 wineries, a majority of which are family-owned. Average nightly rates at hotels in Sonoma County are under $200, compared to $400 in Napa County. Tasting rooms are less expensive, too, with some wineries even offering free tastings.
For a special treat in Santa Rosa, head to the Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate and Garden. The estate offers a decadent alternative to wine and cheese: The wine and chocolate pairing ($25 per person) features five dessert wines. There’s also a five-course food and wine pairing ($55 per person).
New to wine tasting? Arm yourself with a wine-tasting aroma wheel and sharpen your senses even further with a visit to Kendall-Jackson’s sensory gardens, which are designed to help you grow your wine vocabulary and distinguish between aromas. The pinot noir garden, for example, is bursting with raspberries, blueberries, cherries and violets. How does a second career as a sommelier sound?
Located in the northern part of Sonoma County, Healdsburg is a relaxed wine destination that’s known for its zinfandels, pinot noirs and chardonnays. The city’s roots as a farming community have given way to a remarkable yet unpretentious culinary scene. While there, the Jordan Vineyard and Winery is a must-visit and has a calendar full of special events including hikes in the vineyards, picnics and interactive farm-to-table lunches.
Fredericksburg, which is in the heart of Texas hill country, has small-town charm with a German twist. For an adorable lodging experience, book a stay in one of Fredericksburg’s “Sunday homes” for around $145 a night. The small, restored cottages were constructed by German settlers in the mid-1800s who were working farms but needed a place to stay when they came into town for church. Wineries here run the gamut from saloon-style to swanky castles.