By Stefanie Michaels
Sip, swirl, sniff, spit, wine taste these destinations.
From Temecula to Boise, onto Willamette Valley, there are plenty of weekend wine country getaways to suit most anyone’s palates right out Los Angeles’ own backdoor. Still, either with a short car ride or affordable non-stop flights, these three destinations will quickly become your new favorites for a change of scenery rooted in the vines.
European immigrants headed westward during the 19th century’s Gold Rush where Basque sheep herders made their way to the Boise Mountains in Idaho creating one of the largest American Basque populations of modern times in Boise.
At the foot of these same mountains, Snake River Valley is just 40 minutes from downtown Boise and is part of the Sunny Slope Wine Trail boasting 17 wineries and vineyards such as Sawtooth, Hat Ranch, and Huston Vineyards wineries.
As this area is still quite vast, fine dining and luxe accommodations are sparse. And, while the great outdoors awaits your adventuresome side, for a bit more indulgence, staying in downtown Boise is recommended.
Hop aboard a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter hosted by Snake River Wine Tours leaving from your downtown Boise digs at Inn at 500 Capitol, and enjoy a day in the heart of Idaho wine country.
Once back in town, some gourmand musts are Goldie’s for breakfast and The Lively for dinner. And, to learn of the town’s Basque roots, make your way just a couple of blocks from your hotel to the Basque Block where The Basque Market offers a relaxed lunch, and James-Beard Award nominee–Chef Dan Ansotegui focuses on small plate delicacies at Txikiteo (pronounced Chee-key-tay-o).
Temecula Valley, California
If you haven’t made it out to this area of California in the last decade, you’ll be amazed at what used to be little more than a handful of tasting rooms and wide open spaces has now transformed into a haven for wine-lovers in search of understated luxury with sweeping views of the Temescal and Santa Ana Mountains a mere 90-minute drive from LA.
Nearly 50 wineries and vineyards such as Wilson Creek Winery and Fazeli Cellars produce varietals such as Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and Chardonnay. The valley’s cuisine has began garnering equal attention with favorites like E.A.T. Marketplace, Soro’s Grill, and Small Barn Lorimar Winery which partner with local farms like Sage Mountain Farms and Temecula Olive Oil Company.
Many of these producers offer luxury accommodations with Ponte Vineyard Inn topping the list. And, to see the area in style, Temecula Sidecar Tours is Southern California’s first and only tandem motorcycle sidecar tour. Or, opt to ride in a historic 1914 fully-restored cable car guided by Temecula Cable Car Wine Tours, as seen on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
Willamette Valley, Oregon
The Willamette River runs through the beautiful city of Portland, Oregon where urban enophiles will never grow thirsty. And, if you follow the river less than 50 miles outside of the city, the verdant valley follows the river for more than 100 miles where over 700 wineries have become one of the world’s premier destinations for Pinot noir since the first vines planted more than 50 years ago by David Lett and Charles Coury.
Along with a bounty of other varietals suited for such a temperate climate protected by the Coast Range Mountains from the cold Pacific Ocean air and western rainstorms, you’ll also need time to indulge in the renowned region’s culinary landscape.
There are many tours offered in the area if you’d prefer not to sip and savor solo. But, if you’re only in the area for a brief visit, Amaterra Wines perched high in Portland’s West Hills offers gorgeous views of the valley with impeccable wine and food pairings just minutes from downtown Portland.
From sleeping in a renovated grain silo on an 82-acre farm to a Victorian mansion, there are plenty of unique stays. But, for the ultimate in Oregon wine country’s luxury, check into The Allison Inn & Spa.