For some, Valentine’s Day — which is Friday — means chocolates and wine and enjoying a romantic day or evening with your love. But whether you celebrate this Saintly holiday or not, members and editors of travel website VirtualTourist.com found five places wine lovers can enjoy any time of year.
• Picnic in Healdsburg, Calif. Situated just off Highway 128 in Healdsburg, Jimtown Store, a self-proclaimed country store and cafe with a wider worldview, serves up delicious salads, sandwiches, soups and entrees, all made from scratch. Pick up a bite here before heading next door to family-run Hawkes Vineyards and Winery.
The small tasting room is unassuming even though it sits on some of the most beautiful property in all of Alexander Valley. You can taste many wines or ask one of the knowledgeable staff to find the perfect pair for your meal. Head out to their vineyard where you can enjoy your picnic and delicious wine, while looking at the gorgeous view.
• Cycling in Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia. The Yarra Valley is Victoria’s first wine-growing region and today is recognized as one of Australia’s top cool climate producers. For wine lovers looking to enjoy not only great-tasting wine, but really take in the scenery, Yarra Valley offers the perfect terrain for cyclists of all levels.
One of the most popular routes is to start at the northern end of Lilydale and wind your way through to Warburton. With a mostly fine gravel surface taking you through open forest, farmland and hills, there are plenty of great cafes, pubs, restaurants and wineries to experience along the trail.
• South of the Border Wine Country, Valle De Guadalupe, Baja California, Mexico. Let’s be honest. When people think of wine regions, Mexico is probably not at the top of the list. But over the last 20 years, the quality of wine from Valle de Guadalupe in Baja California has caught the eye of many.
Now complete with its very own wine route, the Guadalupe Valley offers a South of the Border experience with more than 50 wineries, a dozen small hotels and B&Bs, and even fine dining. VirtualTourist members recommend checking out the wines and the view at Vinas de Garza and insist that dinner at Laja, which has been dubbed Mexico’s version of French Laundry, is a must.
• Wine and chess, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, Wash. Ancient Lakes of the Columbia Valley, more commonly known as Quincy Basin, became an official American Viticultural Area in the state of Washington in 2012. With only six wineries and commercial vineyards in the area, this is a fantastic region to visit for those looking to avoid the crowds — for now.
VirtualTourist members noted that White Heron Cellars, located above the Columbia River, offers a good selection of wines as well as various outdoor activities. After grabbing a glass of your favorite pour from the tasting room, head outside to the oversized chessboard or partake in a game of petanque, the French version of bocce.
• Long Island, N.Y. The youngest and fastest growing region in New York, Long Island Wine Region is quickly becoming known as one of the most diverse in America. With just 17 acres planted 30 years ago, the area now boasts more than 3,000 and produces both red and white varietals.
VirtualTourist members recommend checking out the area’s many farm stands, which offer everything from fresh fruit and produce to cheese and pies.