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Luxury travel: American wine tour ideas

From plush and palatial country estates in Virginia, to little and lavish Californian boutique hotels - these are the perfect places from which to discover some of the greatest US wines. After a hard day’s tasting, return to the lap of American luxury…

All the suggestions for this luxury wine tour of America have been taken from existing Decanter.com travel guides, written by our experts.

Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel Finger Lakes

American wine tour

Magnificent views of Seneca Lake at sunset from Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel. Image Credit: watkinsglenharborhotel.com

Perhaps begin your American wine tour in New York City, and head to some of the Big Apple’s best wine bars for a recce of your favourite US wines and regions. From there, it’s a short flight to the upstate Finger Lakes region; much-adored for its aromatic whites like Gewürztraminer and Riesling. In fact, some claim it’s responsible for the best Riesling outside Europe. More recently its been recognised for its cool-climate reds like Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc.

Enjoy the region’s riches from the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel, an imposing waterfront building overlooking Seneca Lake — the largest of the Finger Lakes. Its in-house restaurant Blue Pointe Grille serves hearty food and local wines, which can be enjoyed outside on the terrace, with spectacular views across the water. From here you can follow regional wine trails, such as the Seneca Lake Wine Trail which allows you to visit 35 wineries — after which you might need a relaxation session in the pool and jacuzzi.

Recommended by Howard G Goldberg, wine writer and former Decanter columnist 


Nearest airport Rochester

Keswick Hall Virginia

American wine tour

Pure tranquility at Keswick Hall’s horizon pool… Image Credit: keswick.com

Travel south to Virginia, the land Thomas Jefferson envisioned as America’s greatest wine country. Today it boats 220 AVAs (American Viticultural Areas), and the main varieties include Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Viognier. A 15-minute drive from Jefferson’s famous plantation home Monticello, is the plush and stately Keswick Hall. It’s set on a country estate dating back to 1912, and features a spa and golf course fringed by jogging trails. This small luxury resort showcases the state’s exceptional cuisine in the award-winning Fossett’s Restaurant, and its floor-to-ceiling windows have views of the Blue Ridge mountains. The spa features an unusual combined ‘indoor-outdoor’ pool: why choose when you can glide between the two? As well as a ‘horizon’ pool that looks across the sweeping grounds.

Recommended by Katie Kelly Bell, a wine, food and travel writer based in Atlanta


Nearest airport Richmond

Fess Parker Inn Santa Barbara

American wine tour

Stay in Santa Barbara, the famous setting of the film ‘Sideways’. Image Credit: fessparkerinn.com

If you’d rather keep to west coast wine country, head to Santa Barbara — ‘the American Riviera’, and famous setting for the film ‘Sideways’. It’s also famous for it’s cool-climate Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah wines. In the Santa Ynez Valley you’ll find the little nineteenth-century town of Los Olivos, which is awash with wine tasting rooms and art galleries. In the town centre is the historic Fess Parker Inn, which is now a boutique hotel complete with outdoor pool and spa. Here you can try wines from the Fess Parker Winery, as well as other local wines made in Santa Barbara County and Santa Rita Hills. Their new restaurant The Bear and Star is set to open this spring, and is said to feature delicacies such as dry-aged wagyu beef and quail, with organic produce from the Parkers’ own farm.

Recommended by Katie Kelly Bell, a wine, food and travel writer based in Atlanta


Nearest airport Los Angeles

SEE ALSO: The Hitching Post II – review

Hotel Cheval Paso Robles

American wine tour

Hotel Cheval, boutique chic in Paso Robles. hotelcheval.com

Head north through California’s Central Coast until you get to San Luis Obispo, and stay in its viticultural heartland — Paso Robles. It’s said to be America’s fastest growing wine region, and is notorious for bold and luxuriant red wines reds made using Zinfandel, Rhône varietals and Bordeaux-style blends. Hotel Cheval is 16-room boutique hotel, just half a block from the town’s bustling restaurants. It brought a new level of luxury to Paso Robles when it opened in 2007, and it’s still the classiest spot to stay. They have their own swanky SUV available for private wine tours. Then, at the end of a busy day of tasting unwind in the Pony Club bar, with live music and (more) fine wines.

Recommended by Jason Haas, partner and general manager at Tablas Creek Vineyard in Paso Robles


Nearest airport Fresno Yosemite

Albion River Inn Mendocino

American wine tour

Dining al fresco on Mendocino Coast… Credit: Rita Crane // Albion River Inn Facebook

Further north, skirting the golden coastline cities of San Jose and San Francisco, make your way to Mendocino — to the cooler climes and wild redwood forests of Anderson Valley. This AVA is rich in natural beauty and world-class Pinot Noirs and Alsace varietals. Revel in the rustic charms of the valley vineyards by day, then return to the luxury of the Albion River Inn on the Mendocino Coast, close to the village and beach. This luxurious hotel has ocean views and 22 comfortable rooms, as well as a fine restaurant and bar with superb wine lists, featuring some great value bottles at the top end.

Recommended by Stephen Brook, contributing editor to Decanter, who has written more than 30 books on wine, including his award-winning The Wines of California


Nearest airport San Francisco

Allison Inn & Spa Willamette Valley

American wine tour

There are even ‘Pinotherapy’ treatments at this Oregon hotel spa… Image Credit: theallison.com

Eventually the sun-drenched stretches of California give way to the woodlands, rivers and pastures of Oregon’s wine country; where big bold Cali Cabs are replaced by elegant Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. Willamette Valley is the largest wine region, and it’s also only an hour’s drive from Portland. Conveniently positioned between the two, Allison Inn & Spa was the first luxury resort to be built in the area. Jory, the prestigious on-site restaurant, is named after the region’s native soil, and features locally sourced foods and a fine wine list — including 50 wines by the glass. For a special treat, request a seat at the chef’s table. The wine theme goes even further at the spa — where you can indulge in ‘Pinotherapy’ treatments, involving ‘unique therapies infused with wine’. A different approach might be to visit the resort’s own Allison Vineyards, where they produce wines under the Austin Knoll label.

Recommended by Fiona Beckettan award-winning journalist and Decanter’s chief restaurant critic, with her own website matchingfoodandwine.com


Nearest airport Portland

SEE ALSO: Oregon Pinot Noir – Expert’s Choice

The Marcus Whitman Walla Walla

American wine tour

1920s splendour at the Marcus Whitman Hotel. Image Credit: marcuswhitmanhotel,com

We round-off our American wine tour in Washington State, where you can tour the spectacular scenery and 120 wineries of Walla Walla AVA. The region spills over the state line into Oregon, and is flanked by the Blue Mountains. Vineyards on both sides offer diverse soils and have proven a great success with Rhône and Bordeaux grapes. The Marcus Whitman is a good base from which to explore the area, it’s a landmark luxury hotel in the heart of Walla Walla. Built back in 1928, the hotel has seen the likes of presidents, dignitaries and celebrities over the years. It continues to impress with its award-winning restaurant The Marc, and no less than six on-site boutique wineries — it even has its own Signature Chardonnay and Red wine blend, which feature the historic building on their labels.

Recommended by Paul Gregutt, a wine writer who specialises in Washington and Oregon


Nearest airport Seattle

Written by Laura Seal for Decanter.com

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