Photo by Jim G
The colors. The aromas. The way the light flickers through the wine as it swirls in the glass. The flavor, aftertaste and sensation of warmth running down your throat. All of these elements and more are why wine lovers everywhere know that wine tasting isn’t just tossing back a swig of wine; it’s a full and nuanced experience.
What many may not know, however, is that one of the best ways to capture the full experience is to go “wine walking.” Wine walks are distinct from wine tours and wine festivals in that the tastings occur not only in one building or outdoor venue but among various small businesses all within walking distance of one another, often in an area such as a historic district or outdoor shopping center. Structuring the tasting in this way allows wine connoisseurs to savor unique vintages while relishing additional pleasures like gourmet food, live music, beautiful scenery, shopping, art or chocolate – all with a seasoning of local color. If you’re looking for wine-filled travel in the upcoming months, here are ten fabulous wine walks to try out across the nation:
Napa Wine Walk - Napa, California
It’s no surprise that Napa Valley, one of the United States’ most famous wine-producing regions, should be home to a superior wine-walking event. The Napa Wine Walk takes place in downtown Napa, nestled in the heart of Napa Valley, and features wines from more than 200 different wineries, including the Napa Valley Wine Train. There are 25 different tasting locations within walking distance of one another, from 1313 Main, a hip wine bar and lounge, to the Napa Valley Toffee Company. When you’re not out wine walking, there’s still plenty to do. Napa is home to several fine hotels, gourmet restaurants and luxurious day spas.
Tahoe City Wine Walk - Tahoe City, California
Not far from the Nevada border one may enjoy the Tahoe City Wine Walk on the shores of the incomparably beautiful Lake Tahoe. While the scenery is one of the event’s greatest claims to fame, you’ll not be disappointed with the selection of fine wines at the more than thirty wine-tasting locations on the boardwalk. Live music is featured at both ends of the lakefront route, and as part of the city’s Solstice Festival, the wine walk is situated among other notable events such as a classic car show and a paddlefest race on the lake.
First Thursday Wine Walks - Woodinville, Washington
As the third highest wine-producing state in the United States, Washington appropriately provides wine-walking opportunities three times a month, twelve months a year. Whether you missed your chance last month or you liked it so much that you want to come back for more, Woodinville’s Thursday Wine Walks offer an irresistible wine-walking experience for you on the first, second, and third Thursdays of every month. Each wine walk is special and unique. Some feature live musicians, while others combine wine with art viewings or revolve the walk around colorful themes like scavenger hunts, Valentine’s Day or Octoberfest.
Downtown Wine Walk - Seaside, Oregon
The town of Seaside, Oregon offered its first wine walk in the spring of 2005 and then, due to popular demand, brought it back that fall. Since then, Seaside has hosted two wine walks every year – one in the fall and one in the spring. Local businesses offer wine, music and a variety of merchandise to purchase as souvenirs and gifts. True to its name, the town also provides a breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean along its 1.5-mile oceanfront promenade.
Minot Wine Walk, Minot, North Dakota
Known as “Magic City” because of its unbelievable population boom in the late 1800s, Minot offers a wine walk [http://winewalk.downtownminot.com/] that is nothing short of magical. Sip wine at any of the city’s nearly thirty participating businesses, taste delicious hors d’oeuvres and revel in the historic beauty of Minot. When you’ve finished wine walking, continue exploring North Dakota’s fourth-largest at charming places to eat, play and shop.
Bay City Wine Walk - Bay City, Michigan
Bay City, Michigan, located near the shores of Saginaw Bay in Lake Huron, has been host to a classy wine-walking event for fourteen years in a row. You can you sample wine at a number of quaint historic shops and restaurants around the Saginaw River, and the wine walk lays claim to a particularly unique feature: limousines are provided to shuttle guests to various locations along the route. As if the wine-tasting itself didn’t feel upscale enough!
Wilmington Wine Walk - Wilmington, Ohio
At the downtown wine walk in Wilmington, Ohio, local businesses go all out to give their guests the royal treatment, straight from the heart of America. In addition to sampling various wines, participants are treated to mouth-watering hors d’oeuvres like prosciutto-wrapped asparagus spears or lemon tarts with lavender-infused whipped cream, live music, exhibits showcasing local history and samples of services such as massage therapy.
Wine and Chocolate Walk - Brunswick, Maryland
Oh, you thought wine walking couldn’t get any better? Think again. Brunswick’s wine walk combines wine and chocolate tasting for a particularly luxurious and delicious experience.
A Wine Walk in the Old Port - Portland, Maine
For serious wine connoisseurs, this series of wine walks is hosted by Wine Wise, an organization dedicated to wine appreciation and education. Each event in the series revolves around a different variety of wine – European whites, Tuscany reds, Spanish wines, etc. It involves both tasting and learning about the fine wines under discussion.
Wine Walk Wednesdays - Hallandale Beach, Florida
Just north of Miami, Hallandale Beach is home to a beautiful outdoor shopping center, The Village at Gulfstream Park. The Village hosts a wine walk on the first Wednesday of each month. Guests can savor wine and cheese samples, browse the shops and enjoy Florida’s famous sunny weather. The Village is situated close to the beach and is adjacent to a casino and racetrack, so there’s plenty of fun and excitement to be had after you’ve completed the wine walk.
Lorena Starkey works at Minot Hyatt House in a burgeoning wine area and is excited about the potential that exists for future wine events.