Cozy wine destinations to explore this winter

With short, cooler days upon us it’s certainly the time of year where weekend getaways and sunny destinations come to mind. And now with the coronavirus vaccine making its rounds, travel will once again seem possible for the masses.

When considering a wine getaway, there are always certain regions that top the list. Yet for those seeking wide open spaces to breathe in fresh air and enjoy a less touristy atmosphere, it’s worth considering the road less traveled.

Ready for a cozy getaway where sunlight greets you in the morning and tasting rooms are abundant? Keep reading to explore three different states, each with their own dedicated wine regions and trails, ideal for pairing your favorite glass with quiet escapism in nature.


Nevada desert wines

Nevada may not be the first state that comes to mind when thinking of wine regions, yet the southern town of Pahrump is a surprising and scenic destination for tastings. A small collection of family-owned estates is worth the scenic hour-long drive from Las Vegas and is a perfect escape for those who prefer a quiet escape from tourist cities.

Sanders Family Winery, established in 1988, offers free daily tastings and tours, with appointments preferred to accommodate social distancing. Guests here will be immersed within a gorgeous setting with Mount Charleston in the background, and a renaissance Italian Tuscan Villa as the gathering space. Wines include chardonnay, merlot, zinfandel and cab sav.

Pahrump Valley Winery in Nevada.

Courtesy Travel Nevada and Pahrump Valley Winery

Close by, Pahrump Valley Winery opened in 1990 and is Nevada’s largest producing winery. While tours are temporarily suspended, reservations for the onsite Symphony’s Restaurant are available for brunch, lunch and dinner. Wine and food are also available for pickup and delivery.

For a full wine weekend in Pahrump, Wine Ridge RV Resort & Cottages offers an ideal location for a cozy weekend getaway. In addition to full-service RV sites, the property offers one and two-bedroom cottages complete with furnished kitchens, living rooms and outdoor decks. Pet-friendly cottages are available, and the resort is located right next door to Pahrump Valley Winery.

Thanks to its scenic location along the Nevada-California border, guests can turn a wine weekend into an outdoor adventure with a visit to nearby Death Valley. Winter is an excellent time to visit the park’s trails, often too hot to enjoy lengthy hikes in the prime heat of summer. Note that during California’s Regional Stay at Home Order, most park trails and overlooks are open for socially distanced day-use outdoor recreation.

New Mexico wine trail

More than 40 wineries make up the New Mexico wine trail, with popular clusters surrounding the urban centers of El Paso, Albuquerque and Santa Fe. The wine region here dates more than 400 years with roots and influence from Spanish settlers.

For a super cozy and low-key weekend, start your Albuquerque wine weekend with a stay at Red Horse Vineyard Bed & Breakfast where themed guestrooms highlight old west heritage and antiques. In addition to sipping wine at this five-acre property, guests are treated to farm-to-table dining with most ingredients grown right on site. Enjoy comfort classics at breakfast with strawberry and cream scones, baked custard-style French toast and old-fashioned biscuits and bacon gravy.

Then combine a local sightseeing tour with wine tastings by starting out at D.H. Lescombes Winery & Bistro. This venue is near historic Old Town Albuquerque and offers a cozy patio for taking in live music and award-winning wines. Sample limited release Mourvèdre, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc or opt for Heritage Malvasia-Riesling for a sweet and crisp taste.

Grapewines in Casa Rodena Vineyard.

Grapewines in Casa Rodena Vineyard.

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For a romantic outing with stunning architecture, visit Casa Rondeña Winery for daily public tastings. Guests are encouraged to take a virtual tour leading up to their visit, and once on property will experience an impressive combination of architecture, winemaking and music. In addition to award-winning wines, the venue offers wine-infused treats like Merlot chocolate fudge, chardonnay caramel sauce and coffee infused with a port-style wine.

Expand your palate pleasures with even more culinary trails when visiting New Mexico, and dive deep into regional chocolate, ale and chile. The chocolate tasting trail runs close to the wine trail, so this is a perfect combination for local exploration. And since New Mexico is the chile capital of the world, you’ll come across this treat in many local dishes ranging from enchiladas to cheeseburgers, and even ice cream and desserts.

Arizona wine regions

Arizona’s high deserts and rugged landscapes are home to three distinct wine regions, with detailed trail maps available through the Arizona Wine Growers Association. In the Verde Valley, visitors often flock to Sedona for its mesmerizing natural beauty, as this area is known for its scenic red sandstone. Yet this region is also well-regarded for its wineries and tasting rooms.

Try the small batch wines of Page Springs Cellars in Cornville and family-owned Alcantara Vineyards in Cottonwood for a brief overview of area wines. Then take a walking tour of downtown Sedona’s tasting rooms before snuggling up by the fireplace at a pampering resort like L’Auberge de Sedona.

In the Wilcox wine region, the warm desert climate and high elevation contribute to a soil similar to that of Argentina or Southern France. This particular terroir contributes to the Wilcox area producing around three quarters of Arizona’s grapes. Follow the Wilcox Wine Country map to discover new favorites here and in surrounding Sulphur Springs Valley.

Wine grapes hanging from the vines, with beautiful grape leaves and vineyard in Napa Valley, California.

Wine grapes hanging from the vines, with beautiful grape leaves and vineyard in Napa Valley, California.

Lingxiao Xie/Getty Images

Family-owned Carlson Creek is a local favorite for its chardonnay, cab sav, and muscat. Visiting the lush acreage here is a treat for tastings, tours and special events, but you’ll also find tasting rooms in Scottsdale and Cottonwood if you happen to be in another area.

Also near Wilcox is Flying Leap Vineyards, where reds are aged in oak barrels and whites are cold-fermented and aged in steel or wood. The century-old tasting room is an attraction in its own right, notable as the historic saloon home to Wyatt Earp’s younger brother’s demise.

Finally, the Sonoita and Elgin region grows grapes at some of the highest elevations in the country. Sonoita is Arizona’s first AVA and the temperatures and water-retaining soil in this region make it ideal for a robust collection of wineries.

Family-owned Rancho Rossa Vineyards & Rescued Hearts Cellars combines their love of wine with supporting rescue animals, so this is a dreamy spot for pet families. The property boasts 22 acres of grapevines with only estate-grown fruit, and guests can sample unique varietals and blends onsite with indoor and outdoor seating options.

For a rustic, cozy experience head to Dos Cabezas Wineworks to sample dry, fruity reds and moderate whites. Stay the night at Casa NextDoor at Dos Cabezas, a quaint two-bedroom house with kitchenette, ideal for couples exploring the wine trail while taking in the natural setting.

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