The wine-drinking experience is something we tend to associate primarily with our senses of taste and smell. But being immersed in the source is the ultimate reminder that there’s so much more to feel and absorb from a wine beyond its salient qualities, and that what we take in with our eyes can sometimes be equally (if not more) impactful. From an impossibly charming vineyard farmhouse centered around community visibility and empowerment in Oregon’s Willamette Valley to a Mexican winemaking family’s distinctive interpretation of New York terroir, these are the country’s most breathtaking places to drink wine amid the vines.
Caduceus Cellars and Merkin Vineyards, Verde Valley, AZ
Regardless of your personal music tastes, there’s something to worship about “Reverend” Maynard James Keenan’s boutique Arizona wines. As the frontman of legendary alt-metal band TOOL and a winemaker since the mid-2000s, Keenan’s experiential vinous empire channels the same cerebral, multisensory experience as his music, thanks in large part to business partner and lab manager Jennifer Lei Li Keenan, who also happens to be his wife. Together, the Keenan family owns Caduceus Cellars, Merkin Vineyards, and several other concepts in and around Arizona’s Verde Valley area — while the tasting rooms themselves are located in town centers, you can book a private, customized tour with Sip Sedona for an intimate look at the striking desert vineyards that’s as easy on the eyes as it is on the palate.
Kitá Wines, Santa Ynez Valley, CA
Trailblazing winemaker and entrepreneur Tara Gomez is a force, to say the least. Gomez, who founded Kitá Wines in California’s Santa Ynez Valley in 2010, is leading the way for female-identifying wine professionals in both the Indigenous and LGBTQ spaces (especially where the two intersect). Visit Kitá for a tasting and a tour of the sunny Camp 4 Vineyards, which is owned by the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians (the nation to which Gomez belongs), and take in the views of the valley’s picturesque rolling hills while supporting tribal tourism development and sipping a variety of winery favorites.
RGNY, North Fork, NY
For those on the East Coast, rest assured that cross-country travel is not a requisite for full immersion in the lounging-around-gorgeous-vineyards lifestyle. New York State is home to plenty of beautiful wineries and vineyards, but there’s something about RGNY on the North Fork of Long Island that sets the property apart from the rest. Owned by the Rivero González family of winemakers, who planted their first vines in southern Mexico back in 1998, this sustainable winery presents itself through a design-forward lens, and both the tasting room and surrounding vineyard blocks make for the perfect backdrop to any casual visit, event, or curated experience.
Frichette Winery, Benton City, WA
Located in the heart of Washington state’s Red Mountain winemaking region, Frichette Winery is a beautifully warm and welcoming place to kick back and sip a big, bold red either inside the tasting room, on the patio overlooking the vineyards and nearby mountains, or in an Adirondack chair around the fire pit, depending on your vibe. Wife-and-husband team Shae and Greg Frichette offer daily visiting hours and a variety of flights and experiences (not to mention a mean cheese plate), and the winery’s dedication to supporting local organizations and community members makes the scenery at Frichette Winery that much sweeter.
Darioush, Napa Valley, CA
While it’s tough to narrow down the best wineries in Napa, Darioush is certainly among the most uniquely beautiful. Described by founding couple Shahpar and Darioush Khaledi as being “both a destination and a journey,” this elegant winery is steeped in the family’s Persian heritage and is transportive in a way that words fail to describe. A visit to Darioush is a feeling of being embraced by centuries of culture, history, and tradition in a hospitality experience that’s simply stunning inside and out. Book a walking winery tour or a private table in the gardens to soak in the surroundings while you sip a glass of the house’s iconic Darius II red blend between bites of mezze.
Remy Wines, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Remy Drabkin, founder of Remy Wines in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, wears many hats. In addition to making wine and owning multiple businesses in McMinnville, Drabkin not only currently serves as president of the local city council, chair of the McMinnville Affordable Housing Commission, and a director on the Oregon Wine Board’s Education Committee as appointed by the state’s governor, but she’s also the brains behind Wine Country Pride. Needless to say, Drabkin’s dedication to serving her community is admirable, and it’s businesses and people like this that we can all feel good about supporting. It just so happens that the Remy Wines Dundee Hills family farmhouse — an inclusive, peaceful place for wine lovers from all walks of life — is full of visual charm, to boot.
Scribe Winery, Sonoma, CA
Of all of the wineries I’ve visited throughout my near-decade of drinks writing, Scribe has to be the coolest, most impeccably-designed and highly-curated expression of California cool I’ve ever come across. Situated on a sprawling farm dotted with lush palms amongst the seemingly endless rows of vines, Scribe is anything but your everyday winery experience — in fact, it’s a minimalist oenophile’s dreamscape with thoughtful nooks destined for the ‘gram at every turn. Here’s the catch: you have to be a member of the Scribe Viticultural Society to gain access to the property, but there’s no cost to join, and the long list of perks is more than worth the commitment to two consecutive seasonal allocation shipments. As for the wines themselves, well, let’s just say the aesthetic appeal is merely an added bonus.
Bluemont Vineyard, Bluemont, VA
If you’ve ever dreamt of vacationing in a mountainside vineyard, Bluemont — one of Virginia’s top wineries — is the place to go. At Bluemont Vineyard, you can book a stay in one of the property’s ultra-charming guest cottages, some of which are dog-friendly, and when you’re not busy tasting, there are plenty of other fun things to see and do in town. Or, if you’re just passing through, either reserve a tasting in the Harvest Room or simply walk in for a seat on the patio overlooking the mountainside. Or, check out the programming for Bluemont’s separate tasting room in the winery’s mountain lodge for additional options like this season’s Champagne tasting. This area is beautiful year-round, but we suggest aiming for a visit around the holidays to see the 10,000 surrounding vines illuminated by sparkling white lights each night.
Red Tail Ridge, Penn Yan, NY
As the only LEED Gold-certified winery in the state of New York, Red Tail Ridge on Seneca Lake is headed up by winemaker Nancy Irelan, a sustainably minded visionary known for her scientific background and approach to the craft. Irelan favors Old World grape varieties like riesling, which is known to thrive in this region, along with a few lesser-known European grapes not often grown in New York (think: teroldego and lagrein). The winery itself is a sight to behold from both a design and engineering standpoint — Irelan and co-owner Mike Schnelle commissioned the highly sustainable structure from a local architectural firm, and the grounds that surround it are some of the most beautiful in the area no matter the season.