For wine lovers there is no better journey than to the Mother Lode: traipsing through sun-dappled vineyards or sipping wine a few steps from the barrel room. During harvest season (early autumn in North America and Europe; spring in New Zealand, Australia, or South America) tractors zip up and down roadways and workers pick grapes at a rapid pace, intent on bottling the best vintage yet.
From up-and-coming regions-like Southern Illinois and Montecello, Virginia-to laid-back Okanagan in Canada, North America alone is packed with options. Further abroad, spots like Porto, Portugal; Beaune, France; and Marlborough, New Zealand craft perfect wine-harvest itineraries.
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Central Coast, California: Paso Robles
Consider traveling to Paso Robles-midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, a 45-minute drive from the Pacific Ocean coastline-during the annual Harvest Wine Weekend (October 18-20), which folds in barrel tastings, winemaker dinners, blending seminars, and grape stomps.
Where to Stay and Dine: With just three rooms, Sundance Bed and Breakfast opened in July on an estate vineyard. Then, clustered around Paso Robles' town square are several eateries, including newcomers Estrella (Latin-inspired tapas plus Caribbean-infused entrees) and La Cosecha Bar & Restaurant (celebrating foods from Spain and South America).
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Northwest: Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Eclectic and artsy, Canada's second-largest wine region has yarn bombing (Vernon), Aboriginal culture (Kamloops Art Gallery in Kamloops), and agri-tourism (Tranquille Farms, in Kamloops). In the wine hub of Oliver, which is within the Great Basin Desert, are just over 100 vineyards.
Where to Stay and Dine: Spirit Ridge Vineyard Resort & Spa-the valley's Southern-most town (and 20 minutes from Oliver)-boasts Solterra Desert Spa and Mica Restaurant (overlooking vineyards). Open since 2011, Terrafina at Hester Creek Winery in Oliver serves dishes with local foods (like Dungeness crab and corn pizza) paired with the winery's vintages.
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Southeast: Monticello, Virginia
Although it's one of the country's oldest grape-growing regions (Thomas Jefferson managed two vineyards at Monticello), the Monticello AVA is now attracting celebrity winery owners like Dave Matthews (Blenheim Vineyards) and Donald Trump (Trump Winery).
Where to Stay and Dine: Charlottesville (home to the University of Virginia) is just minutes from Keswick Hall at Monticello, a 48-room hotel on 600 acres. This fall Charlottesville welcomes Parallel 38 Restaurant and Wine Bar, named for the 38th Parallel, with 38 wines by the glass and a 100-strong list of boutique wines.
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