One of the joys of a visit to Napa or the Willamette Valley is the ability to pop from winery to winery with ease. Now, several American cities can claim their own cosmopolitan versions of wine country, with multiple tasting rooms and working wineries concentrated in downtown areas—many within an easy walk or ride from each other. For the cost of a day’s parking you can sip and stroll your way through wine country without leaving the city. Here’s where you can do it.
The PDX Urban Wine Trail showcases Portland’s active winemaking scene with nine members, five of which share a space at the Southeast Wine Collective. At this single-stop tasting room you can explore wines such as Division Winery’s “Polka Dots” Pétillant Naturel, or the succulent Madrona Hill Pinot Noir from Gersing Cellars. Nearby at Helioterra Winery, schedule an intimate tasting of winemaker Anne Hubatch’s intriguing expressions, such as her concrete fermented melon de bourgogne. Take a short, 15-minute ride across town to the Domaine Serene Wine Lounge, the winery’s swanky flagship tasting room where all 75 of the wines in their global portfolio (including Burgundian wineries Château de la Crée and Maison Evenstad) are available. Settle in with a glass of their Evenstad Reserve Dundee Hills Brut sparkling and keep an eye out for fellow wine lovers Emeril Lagasse and Carmelo Anthony, two of the many celebs who have wine lockers on site, a perk for top tier members of the wine club.
Taste bottles from winemaker Charles Smith’s expansive portfolio at his House of Smith Jet City location, a glass-walled, two-story tasting room that looks down into the working winery and enjoys runway views of Boeing Field and Mt. Rainer. A bit further north in Seattle’s industrial district you’ll find SoDo Urban Works, which features ten Washington state winery tasting rooms clustered in a single development. Pop into LATTA Wines, for a sip of their juicy single vineyard Grenache—quite reflective of the Rhône revival rippling across Washington winemaking right now. The same is true of Rotie Cellars’ Northern Blend, a silky Syrah co-fermented with Viognier; don’t be afraid with a pizza from the adjacent Nine Pies.
Brooklyn, New York
Taste Brooklyn terroir at Rooftop Reds, the world’s first commercially viable urban rooftop vineyard. The bulk of their grapes come from Keuka Lake in New York’s Finger Lakes, but their 14,800 square-foot rooftop produces a Brooklyn Vintage red blend that sells for $150. Red Hook Winery winemakers source fruit from various New York state vineyards to craft their own bottlings—all of which they produce at the winery on Pier 41. Take your pick from any of the 150 offerings, sold by the glass or in flights, and settle in with the winery’s views of the Statue of Liberty. Brooklyn Winery winemaker Conor McCormack works with growers across the US to source fruit for his wines. Book a winery tour (check for availability limitations because of COVID-19) and order a flight of reds while soaking up the tasting room’s industrial farmhouse vibe.
This historic downtown area along the shore of Lake Grapevine sits just north of Ft. Worth and Dallas, making it an easy 20-minute drive from either city. Here you’ll find several tasting rooms clustered together with more than 80 locally owned art galleries, shops, and restaurants. Cross Timbers Winery occupies the Historic Dorris Brock Farmstead, one of the oldest structures in Grapevine. Ask about their selection of rare wines from Casa Madero, the oldest winery in the Western Hemisphere, located in Parras de la Fuente, Mexico, one of Grapevine’s Sister Cities. Taste a gold-medal winning naturally fermented and unfortified Solera Texas Sherry at Messina Hof Grapevine Winery, and ask for ‘Dugout’ at Bingham Family Vineyards—it’s their award-winning red blend and a fine example of Old World sensibilities inflected with Texas terroir.
Santa Barbara, California
Ocean breezes, sunny skies, and a collection of roughly 20 wineries within about four square blocks gives Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone the win for best urban wine trail ambiance. Kick off your visit at Riverbench with a flight of their world-class sparkling wines (the rosé gives Champagne a run for its money), or explore the Counoise and Cinsault bottlings at the family-run Kunin Wines. Oreana Winery, a founding member of the Funk Zone trail, serves ethereal pinot noirs well worth your time. Don’t miss a chance to try Pali Wine Company’s Tower 15 Denner Vineyard old-vine Syrah.
The Mile High City’s casual style of socializing is in full swing at counter-culture wineries such as Infinite Monkey Theorem, where wine lovers can sample kegged, bottled, and canned versions of Colorado’s up-and-coming wine regions. For true Denver terroir, visit Balistreri Wine, where the family converted its city flower farm into a vineyard. After racking up awards both instate and out, they continue to craft a wide selection of natural wines, all available at their tasting room. Colorado meets Italy at Bonacquisti Wine Company’s where winemaker Paul Bonacquisti, a second generation Italian-American, crafts small batch wines, including a Sangiovese, from Colorado vineyards.