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The Grape Escape


We're not in Napa anymore! From Hawaii to New York, these under-the-radar wineries spread all across the country. Liven up your tasting experience at five innovative vineyards that take visitors off the trodden path.

Shinn Estate
Get a taste of rural life right outside New York City.
Owners David Page and Barbara Shinn, both originally from the Midwest, ended up in the San Francisco Bay Area -- Page as a chef and Shinn working in restaurants -- where the marriage of wine and food became a big part of their lives. A move to the East Coast resulted in the discovery of regional wines. Their restaurant, Home on Cornelia Street, became the first local wine restaurant to feature New York State wines exclusively.

Stocking everything from Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon to Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, the owners, along with winemaker Anthony Nappa, take a rather French approach to the wines they create.

Visitors can now also enjoy the Shinn Estate Farmhouse, a bed-and-breakfast located in the updated 1800s homestead on the property. It offers sumptuous breakfasts featuring local ingredients like house-cured bacon, garden herbs and small-batch goat cheeses.

Gruet Winery
Take your wine experience to new heights: this vineyard boasts some of the highest altitudes in the country.
Among the unexpected draws of an artsy Albuquerque is Gruet Winery -- founded in 1984 by champagne producer Gilbert Gruet. Today, Gilbert's children grow Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes that are mostly turned into the Méthode Champenoise sparkling wines.

The 4,300-foot elevation provides cool nights that balance the warm days, extends the growing season and results in grapes with acidity and complexity levels that are ideal for creating world-class sparkling wines. And Gruet obliges, producing seven bubblies, along with a handful of still wines, to which was recently added a lovely Syrah.

Foggy Bridge
Sip on some history in a winery housed in a 1920s era aircraft hangar.
San Francisco serves as the gateway to much of California's most famous wine country. But before you head across the bay, drop in on a winery that just opened in San Francisco itself.

Foggy Bridge Winery is located in the Presidio, an area that was established as a Spanish military garrison in the 1770s and has been in continuous use as a military base since that time.

Now part of the National Park Service, the Presidio is slowly converting to cultural and recreational uses, with the new Foggy Bridge Winery likely to be a key draw.

The winery will feature a large tasting area and tasting bar, educational seminars, and the Left Bank Brasserie restaurant, boasting views of the Bay, Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Perhaps most important, Foggy Bridge also has attracted winemaker Daryl Groom, who counts long stints at Geyser Peak Winery and Beam Wine Estates among his impressive accomplishments.

Volcano Winery
Located on a volcano, this vineyard offers a unique taste of paradise.
If you think Hawaii is all beaches and luaus, think again. The islands also offer snow skiing (on the Mauna Kea volcanic mountain) and winemaking, among other diverse surprises.

In fact, it's the elevation of the various volcanoes that makes vineyards possible. The altitude cools off the tropical temperatures and allows certain types of grapes to be grown for wine.

Volcano Winery is one of the state's two wineries. Located on the big island of Hawaii, Volcano Winery specializes in the Symphony grape, which grows on the estate.

Wine lovers may recognize that grape from California's Ironstone winery and its ''Obsession'' bottling. Symphony is a cross between Muscat of Alexandria and Grenache Gris and makes an aromatic, quaffable, off-dry white wine that tends to mix citrus and peach notes.

Valley Vineyards
Ohio's second-largest estate winery serves up Midwestern charm.
No matter what brings you to America's heartland -- family vacation, business trip or just checking out the sights -- be sure to explore the local winemaking scene.

Ohio, in particular, has a long tradition of wine production. Grapes were brought to Ohio in the first half of the 19th century when German immigrants built up a thriving industry there.

Valley Vineyards has been owned and operated by the Schuchter family since its 1970 founding.

A Cabernet Sauvignon reserve is the winery's flagship vintage, and their Syrah has been served at Jean-Robert at Pigall's, Cincinnati's nationally recognized fine-dining restaurant.

The winery receives more than 100,000 visitors per year.


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