Tour de Wine: West Coast Wineries

By Haley Kieser

A wine tour combines the best aspects of vacation. There are the scenic landscapes, the escapes from a busy city life and, of course, the wine. Pack your bags and visit some of the top wineries on the west coast.

The west coast is known as wine country in the U.S., especially Sonoma County, California. A great place to start the wine tour is Martinelli Winery & Vineyards. The winery dates back to the 1880s, when the newly married Martinellis made their way from Tuscany, Italy, to California. Now the winery sells 90 percent of the grapes they farm to other Sonoma County wineries. Try their Bella Vigna Pinot Noir or the Giuseppe & Luisa Zinfandel. If you need wine for the beach, there’s no running short of options.

The next stop on the west coast tour is Soter Vineyards in Carlton, Oregon. This winery is a little more than an hour from Portland, so it is a popular day trip for people living in the city. Celebrating their 20th anniversary this year, this winery focuses on sustainability and responsible farming practices. Try their 2014 Mineral Springs Ranch Pinot Noir. The wine was recently given 98 points out of 100 by renowned wine critic James Suckling.

Finally for the west coast is Leonetti Cellar in Walla Walla, Washington. Other than boasting an interesting location, this winery is also celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. It has been passed down through generations, with the current owners tracing their family from Italy through Ellis Island before settling in Washington. The winery itself is beautiful. There are stone buildings, blooming flowers and views of the sun setting over a small lake. Try their 2013 Reserve or their 2014 Merlot.

For a different type of wine tour, plan a visit to the increasingly competitive southwest. The first stop should be Becker Vineyards in Fredericksburg, Texas. Founded by the Becker couple in 1992, this vineyard is among the younger ones. However, it has expanded its reach, and wine lovers are definitely taking notice. The vineyard is stunning to visit. There are fields of wildflowers, peach orchards and seasonal hay. Several of their wines have won awards, such as the 2013 Texas Cabernet and the 2015 Prairie Cuvee. This year the vineyard is celebrating its 21st Annual Grape Stomp, a fun-filled event featuring live music.

Another southwest stop should be Callaghan Vineyards in Elgin, Arizona. Kent Callaghan and his father, Harold, founded the vineyard in 1990. If you find yourself in Tucson and are looking for things to do, a visit to this winery includes a tasting and a view of the production floor. The Callaghans’ wine has been served in the White House, and in 2006 former Governor Janet Napolitano named their vineyard one of Arizona’s treasures. Some of their award-winning blends include the 2012 Petit Verdot and the 2012 Tannat.

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