Beyond Sonoma: Check out wine country in Oregon, Colorado, Virginia and Pennsylvania

Although you may be physically ready to travel again after getting vaccinated, you may not feel entirely ready – or comfortable – enough yet to visit touristy destinations along with peak-season crowds. 

If you’re an experienced wine enthusiast or just an aspiring collector hoping to grow your at-home wine collection but aren’t ready for crowds yet, the answer may be visiting a lesser-known wine region. Just keep in mind your wine-tasting and winery visits may be different that you’re used to. But that can be a good thing.

“The wine tasting experience has become more consumer focused and intimate, with smaller groups of people at each tasting and reservations now being required,” says Kim Pasquali, the head of guest experiences at Medlock Ames, a wine producer and tasting room located about an hour northwest of Sonoma, California. “With these smaller group tastings, wineries have the opportunity to offer more one-on-one time with each guest, making the wine-tasting experience more in-depth and tailored to their interests and knowledge.”

Despite loosening COVID restrictions across the country, Pasquali believes that the trends of wineries offering seated tastings and requiring reservations will continue. Why? Purveyors have come to appreciate the way those practices have organized the flow of consumers to their tasting rooms.

“Wineries are beginning to offer tasting events again, which will give guests the option to attend some larger gatherings that were so crucial to the atmosphere of Wine Country,” Pasquali says. “At Medlock Ames, we are loosening restrictions as we reopen by welcoming dogs back to the property and creating family-friendly experiences, so we can welcome more guests and their loved ones.”

While Sonoma is renowned as the heart of California wine country, it’s by no means the only U.S. wine region worth visiting. Here are some under-the-radar spots where you can sip and savor and revel in enriching and fun wine experiences.

Grand Junction, Colorado


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