For many people, wine is not just a beverage, it’s a way of life. And fortunately for those wine lovers, the opportunities to explore the world of wine are rapidly growing in the U.S. While California still produces 90 percent of America’s wine, there are vineyards, tasting rooms and wineries popping up all across the country.
Redfin and Food & Wine joined forces to figure out some of the best cities for wine aficionados, but instead of highlighting areas near the tried-and-true Napa Valley or Sonoma vineyards, where the price tags on homes may seem like sour grapes, we uncovered 10 affordable cities that are in close proximity to up-and-coming wine country.
To determine those cities, Redfin data scientists crunched the numbers to see which cities in the U.S. have the most vineyards, wineries and tasting rooms nearby and then identified which of those are the most affordable based on the median sale price and price per square foot of homes. Then the experts at Food & Wine reviewed the list of affordable cities and chose their 10 favorites. They also provided their recommendations for wineries, tasting rooms, wines and restaurants to try in each city. These 10 cities not only have impressive local wine options, but are also a good bang for their buck.
Because many of these places may not be widely known for their wine, we included our local Redfin real estate agents’ perspectives on what makes each city special for wine connoisseurs. So instead of waiting to hear it through the grapevine, read on for our inside scoop on the vineyards to visit, the wines to try and the best places to sip a glass of red, rose or white near these 10 affordable cities! Is your glass always half full? If so, this list is for you!
1. Sacramento, California (Lodi Wine Region)
- Median Sale Price: $235,000
- Median Price Per Square Foot: $154
- Winery to Visit: Michael David Winery. Two brothers whose family has farmed Lodi since the 1850s founded this large, eco-minded winery.
- Wine to Try: Zinfandel. This grape produces lush wines in the warm climate.
- Where to Drink: Downtown & Vine. Wines from all over California are on offer at this restaurant-retailer.
“Like many folks in Sacramento, I’d call myself a wine enthusiast. My wife and I enjoy traveling to wineries in both El Dorado County and Amador County. We used to visit Sonoma and Napa county wineries every year but for the last several years we’ve found great wines right here that rival the best California wineries,” said Redfin agent Jeff Werolin. “From large scale producers to small artisan wineries, the area has it all. It’s almost hard to believe that these beautiful vineyards and fantastic wine events are just right here in our backyard. There is a lot to explore.”
2. Portland, Oregon (Willamette Valley Wine Region)
- Median Sale Price: $315,000
- Median Price Per Square Foot: $184
- Winery to Visit: Stoller Family Estate. The solar-powered, sunlit tasting room offers 180-degree views of the vines.
- Wine to Try: Pinot Noir. The Willamette Valley’s cool weather is similar to Pinot’s French homeland of Burgundy.
- Where to Drink: Le Pigeon. The list at “F&W Best New Chef” Gabriel Rucker’s restaurant is full of amazing local bottles, plus sharply priced gems from all over the world.
“I love escaping to the valley on the weekends and exploring the wine region. Portland is amazingly close to wine country, but once you arrive, you feel like you are in a different country. You don’t have to go very far to hit all the wineries and it makes for a gorgeous afternoon with the mountains, some sunshine, and crisp air to breathe,” said Redfin agent Joe Buffington. “I have experienced firsthand the friendliness of the all the folks that run these wineries — they love what they do and it truly shows when you visit them from the city. There is also no shortage of activities, and May is perhaps the best month of all! It’s Oregon Wine Month and all month long all of the local vineyards, wineries and tasting rooms celebrate our beloved winemaking traditions. The biggest celebration of all happens on Memorial Wine Weekend when over 150 vineyards all host celebrations.”
3. Bothell, Washington (Puget Sound Wine Region)
- Median Sale Price: $435,000
- Median Price Per Square Foot: $200
- Tasting Room to Visit: The Carriage House. This beautiful tasting room is located a quarter-mile north of the excellent DeLille Cellars.
- Wines to Try: Bordeaux blends. At 65 percent Sauvignon Blanc and 35 percent Sémillon, Chaleur Estate Blanc approximates the composition of the greatest white Bordeaux in the world — Château Haut-Brion Blanc — at less than a tenth of the price.
- Where to Drink: The Herbfarm, a longtime F&W favorite. The wine list has terrific selections from the Pacific Northwest and beyond.
“Bothell is a perfect destination for wine lovers because of its close proximity to Woodinville wine country,” said Redfin agent Paul Siemering. “It’s only about 10 minutes away, and while vineyards don’t typically grow their grapes in this area, you can find tons of wineries where you can taste many of the latest and greatest creations of Washington winemakers, and there are frequent events being hosted at all the wineries, from cooking classes to Thursday Wine Walks, making Woodinville a great place to socialize and meet other wine lovers.”
4. Livermore, California (Livermore Valley Wine Region)
- Median Sale Price: $601,500
- Median Price Per Square Foot: $366
- Winery to Visit: Concannon Vineyard. Dating back to 1883, the restored winery boasts green design elements wherever possible like solar panels.
- Wines to Try: Petite Sirah. Livermore Valley is known for the grape; Concannon was the first to introduce it in the U.S. in 1961.
- Where to Drink: Underdog Wine Bar. Located on the Concannon Vineyard estate, the wine list features more than 50 local and international wines by the glass as well as inventive wine-infused cocktails. It’s near some great camping in San Luis Obispo as well!
“Livermore truly is a hidden treasure. Compared with many of the surrounding areas, it is a relatively more affordable place to live, and the wine country is just awesome. Napa is about an hour away, but I prefer to visit the local wineries in Livermore Valley. Many of them are mom and pop type places and they don’t even sell their wine commercially. The tastings tend to be more affordable too! You’ll also find some bigger names like Concannon, Wente, and Mitchell Katz, so there’s something for everyone,” said Redfin agent Amber Hancock. “Most of the vineyards are on the same road, so a lot of people like to take a tour, and you can even take a tour by trolley! September is a great time to visit and there’s a huge festival the weekend after Labor Day; all the local vineyards and wineries participate.”
5. Leesburg, Virginia (Middleburg Wine Region)
- Median Sale Price: $355,00
- Median Price Per Square Foot: $170
- Winery to Visit: Chrysalis Vineyards. This picturesque 71-acre winery is nestled in the foothills of the northern Blue Ridge and Bull Run mountains.
- Wines to Try: Norton. “Once a staple before virtually disappearing during Prohibition, the hardy Norton — most likely the oldest native grape now being widely cultivated in America — is once again gaining popularity in challenging growing regions where it thrives, such as Virginia and Missouri,” says F&W contributor Dan Dunn.
- Where to Drink: Gold Cup Wine Bar at the Salamander Resort & Spa, where select area winemakers are hosted each month for tastings, wine dinners and classes.
“Leesburg has a huge wine culture. People are moving to the area for the vineyards and all they have to offer, including the mountains, four distinct seasons, more space and lower home prices. The laidback vineyard culture in Leesburg is a draw for baby boomers and millennials alike,” said Redfin agent Anna Schwoerer. “People are willing to commute a little farther for work because they can afford more house here and the laid-back culture is a nice change to fast-paced D.C.”
6. Austin, Texas (Texas Hill Country Wine Region)
- Median Sale Price: $281,000
- Median Price Per Square Foot: $164
- Winery to Visit: Becker Vineyards. At 100,000 cases annually, Becker is the third-largest producer in the state. The massive wood-and-stone tasting room is surrounded by 46 acres of grapes and lavender.
- Wines to Try: Tempranillo. Because of the hot summers, Hill Country is about big, hearty reds.
- Where to Drink: Uchi. This groundbreaking Japanese restaurant from F&W Best New Chef 2005 Tyson Cole features a well-priced list of great wines from all over the world.
“Approximately an hour’s drive west of Austin, in Texas Hill Country, there are over 40 vineyards along Interstate 290, in and around Fredericksburg,” said Redfin real estate agent Andrew Vallejo. “According to Orbitz, it’s the second-most-visited wine region in the United States. And with a large selection of award-winning wines, it’s not hard to see why. Rather than drive, many locals prefer to be picked up in downtown Austin by a tour provider for a relaxing day trip of wine sampling. It’s a very popular Saturday activity.”
7. Long Island, New York (Long Island Wine Region)
- Median Sale Price: $369,000
- Median Price Per Square Foot: $234
- Winery to Visit: Wölffer Estate Vineyard. Owned and operated by siblings Marc and Joey Wölffer, this Hamptons estate features a rocking wine bar that hosts classes and game nights.
- Wine to Try: Cabernet Franc. Long Island produces terrific light-bodied, brightly acidic Cab Francs that are super food-friendly.
- Where to Drink: Cuvée Seafood & Grille. The bright and airy Greenport restaurant features a local-focused wine list.
“Less than 50 years ago, Long Island’s north fork was sparsely populated and mostly potato farms. Over the last few decades, many of these farms have been converted into vineyards, producing award-winning wines. People from New York City and Connecticut will come here just for the wineries and make a day or weekend of vineyard hopping,” said Redfin agent John Gardner.“There are still many small farms in the area, so it’s a great place to get fresh fruit and produce in the spring and summer, pumpkins in the fall and freshly cut Christmas trees in the winter. The foodie scene is growing with well-known chefs opening restaurants in the area.”
8. Tucson, Arizona (Sonoita and Willcox Wine Regions)
- Median Sale Price: $138,000
- Median Price Per Square Foot: $93
- Winery to Visit: Callaghan Vineyards. One of the state’s leading producers, the winery specializes in southern French varietals like Mourvèdre and Petite Sirah. Daily tastings are often hosted by owner/vintner Kent Callaghan.
- Wine to Try: The industry is still young, so no one grape has emerged as the state’s signature. But the complexly flavored, bold Syrahs are definitely worth trying.
- Where to Drink: Grill at Hacienda del Sol. The breathtaking mountain views are second only to the exceptional and extensive wine list.
“Considering the average sale price in Tucson is well under $200,000, residents have access to an amazing wine country. Just an hour’s drive south of the city, ringing the Coronado National Forest, are a series of nationally regarded vineyards in small, quaint towns like Sonoita and Elgin,” said Redfin real estate agent Sara Fischer. “It’s not uncommon for Tucsonites to make a day trip of it – you can enjoy great wine and great views right here in southern Arizona.”
9. Temecula, California (Temecula Valley Wine Region)
- Median Sale Price: $360,000
- Median Price Per Square Foot: $174
- Winery to Visit: Falkner Winery. Situated near the top of a 1,500-foot hill, this winery gives guests a breathtaking view of the valley below.
- Wines to Try: Cabernet Sauvignon. The warmer, Mediterranean-like weather works well for this grape.
- Where to Drink: Vineyard Rose Restaurant at South Coast Winery Resort & Spa. The extensive wine list features many solid California producers.
“Temecula is truly is an ideal town for wine lovers looking for affordable, spacious homes close to wine country. There are even a few developments here specifically geared toward vino fanatics: Two master-planned communities appropriately dubbed ‘Chardonnay Hills’ and ‘Vintage Hills’. These tracts boast large lots, beautiful views of Temecula’s rolling hills and are just about a block from the entrance to wine country. Plus they start in the high $300s – a small price to pay for such luxurious living,” said Redfin real estate agent Brian Lopiccolo.
10. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Vintage Atlantic Wine Region)
- Median Sale Price: $146,000
- Median Price Per Square Foot: $110
- Winery to Visit: Chaddsford Winery. Located in the beautiful Brandywine Valley just southwest of Philadelphia, the award-winning Chaddsford is the state’s largest winery, producing 50,000 cases every year.
- Wines to Try: Chardonnay. The valley’s microclimate and soil make for good growing conditions.
- Where to Drink: The Gables at Chadds Ford. This gorgeous restaurant is set inside a converted dairy farm.
“Whether you’re an aficionado, weekend wine warrior or just looking to try something new, the Philadelphia region, as the seventh largest producer of wine in the country, is the place to discover your next great glass. Chester and Delaware counties have over 15 wineries to choose from and homes in the area will not drain your budget as fast as you will want to drain your glass. Philly has been ranking high in national trends in 2015, with mentions in New York Times’ best places to travel in 2015, Conde Nast’s best cities to shop in and Redfin’s hottest neighborhood report. This is another badge of pride for Philly residents,” said Redfin real estate agent Blakely Minton. If you’re interested in moving to one of these great areas for wine, get in touch with a Redfin real estate agent today!
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