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Overlooked Wine Regions in the U.S.

You might already know about the most famous wine regions in the United States (we're looking at you, Napa). However, if you're looking for a destination with equally beautiful vineyards and delicious tastings with smaller crowds, you're in luck. Check out these three overlooked wine regions in the U.S. and plan your trip before the secret gets out!

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Hill Country, Texas

Vineyard featuring blue skies overhead and large trees in Fredericksburg, Texas
Credit: Dean_Fikar/ iStock

You'd be forgiven if wine wasn't the first thing to come to mind when you thought of Texas. That will change, however, after a visit to the Texas Hill Country. It's the largest wine area in the state and the second-largest American Viticultural Area in the country. With over 50 wineries across more than nine million acres, there's plenty to see and taste.

At the heart of Hill Country lies the city of Fredericksburg. Explore Fredericksburg's German heritage with a tasting at the authentic "weinkeller" (wine cellar) of the Pontotoc Vineyard Weingarten. You can also explore the 21 different wineries along the Fredericksburg Wine Road 290 that leads in and out of the city.

Outside of Fredericksburg, you can also check out the wineries and vineyards scattered throughout neighboring towns. Although the Hill Country used to be known mostly for its full-bodied reds, it now produces a variety of wines including a wide range of whites. Whatever your preference, you can explore stops across the Texas Wine Trail and check out annual events from various food and wine festivals to Oktoberfest.

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Walla Walla Valley, Washington

Vineyards on hilly landscape in Walla Walla Valley, Washington
Credit: don51/ iStock

The Walla Walla Valley wine region is situated in southeastern Washington state and extends into northeastern Oregon. The area features over 120 wineries sprinkled across nearly 3,000 acres and is known for its rich agriculture.

As you might expect, the climate in Walla Walla Valley is quite different from that of the Texas Hill Country. The region is cool and wet even by Washingtonian standards, which provides fertile soil perfect for growing everything from grapes to sweet onions. Cabernet sauvignon is the standout variety, however, and reds in general are by far the most common local offerings.

If you're heading to the region, plan to visit downtown Walla Walla. The city has small-town charm and no shortage of tasting rooms. Check out a number of wineries along the river that cuts through the heart of downtown such as El Corazón and Kontos Cellars.

Meanwhile, south of Walla Walla in Oregon, you can visit the wineries of The Rocks District. In addition to the rocky, cobbled soil that gave the area its name, this distinct subregion is known especially for its syrah varieties. Expect a rural, farm-t0-table atmosphere and wines that are quickly becoming recognized around the world.

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Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan

Aerial view of Leelanau Peninsula in Michigan
Credit: Westhoff/ iStock

Wineries in Michigan? We know. We were shocked too. The Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail, however, is home to 27 wineries offering everything from rieslings to pinot noirs. The area has gained attention for its local charm, natural beauty, and delicious bottles.

Leelanau Peninsula is the little finger on the glove that is Michigan's western peninsula. The Wine Trail extends through a number of distinct microclimates, which give the various wineries their own unique tastes. The trail itself is divided into three mini trails, which makes it easy to break down your visit into manageable sections! In total, the trail will take you across 93 miles and to a quarter of the state's wineries.

Indulge in the Italian-inspired flavors at Baia Estates on the northernmost end of the trail or savor the local tastes of both wines and ciders at Green Bird Cellars. Catch picture-perfect landscapes at the Verterra Winery on the western side of the peninsula and then head over to the French Valley Vineyard for equally stunning views of Suttons Bay.

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