12 Wineries Worth Visiting
The mission of a winery is to make wine. If the amount of wine being made is minimal, the space in which it is produced can be as well. There are "wineries" in garages, barns, industrial parks, even tractor-trailers.
When quantities increase and quality control becomes increasingly important, however, wineries grow. Some become as big as factories; some sprawl like college campuses. Winemakers figured out a long time ago, though, that just making wine wasn't enough; they needed to sell it too. As competition increases, simply finding a good distributor and getting bottles into wine shops and restaurants wasn't enough for many producers. They started paying attention to building an image, extending their brand, and drawing customers with the romance of their setting or philosophy, not just that delicious liquid in the glass.
In short, at least some of them started turning their wineries into showplaces (or planning them like that from the beginning), adding picnic facilities, nature trails, restaurants, shops, concert stages, and more. There are certainly some wineries, to be frank (a few Napa Valley specimens come to mind), where the tourist facilities outstrip the quality of the vino, but the dozen named here all produce wines you'd be happy to sample, amid surroundings you'll enjoy.
City Winery, New York City
Views of rolling vineyards and state-of-the-art hospitality centers aren't the only things that can make a winery worth visiting. Lower Manhattan's City Winery (there are also branches in Chicago, Napa, and Nashville) is a real working winery, despite its urban location. It's tiny by California standards, but proprietor Michael Dorf has managed to pack a lot into the space, barrel-aging room included. What makes this winery especially cool can be traced back to Dorf’s roots in the music scene, as the founder of the (in)famous music venue, The Knitting Factory: while wine ages downstairs, the upstairs stage plays host to the likes of Los Lobos, Allen Toussaint, Stephen Stills, Junior Brown, and Madeleine Peyroux. Special bottlings are created to honor the performers, and City Winery's creative approach to winemaking permits members of the community to learn about and experience the process, even crushing grapes and making their own vintages.
Chateau Grand Traverse, Traverse City, Mich.
Michigan isn't the first state that comes to mind when folks talk about American producing regions, but vintners have been bottling wine commercially here since just after the repeal of Prohibition. Chateau Grand Traverse, on Michigan's scenic Old Mission Peninsula, launched in 1974, is one of the largest wineries in the state, turning out everything from first-class chardonnay, pinot grigio, and pinot noir to a super-sweet ice wine served at the 1989 inauguration of President George H.W. Bush to several bottlings based on the cherries for which this part of Michigan is famous. Wine aside, the property is home to a warmly contemporary country inn with six adults-only guest rooms, a first-rate tasting room, and a network of vineyard walking trails that are particularly beautiful in the fall.