Pitch a Tent in the Best U.S. Wine Regions

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Pitch a Tent in the Best U.S. Wine Regions

By Bonnie Nicholls
For ReserveAmerica.com

Wine Camping

Did you know every state in the U.S. produces wine? What's more, most of the popular wine regions—think Napa Valley, Rogue Valley and Shenandoah—have something else in common: they're all located near campgrounds.

Enjoy your traditional morning hikes and dinners around the fire, and then add a little wine-tasting to the day's agenda for a camping trip unlike any other.

California

California boasts several winery-dense areas, many of which are located along the coast. The most robust regions that have nearby campgrounds are Sonoma and Napa in northern California.

Sonoma

Sonoma is home to 450 wineries, according to SonomaWine.com. The growing harvest thrives thanks to a maritime fog that drifts in from the Sonoma Coast. This fog preserves the acidity and complexity in the wines, according to the Sonoma County Vintners.

Chardonnay is the most common variety in this region, although there are plenty of varietals and reds such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir available.

Sonoma State Beach has more than 100 campsites. When you're not relaxing at the campsite, walk along the beach, explore tide pools, watch the seals, or go fishing.

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Napa

Just east of Sonoma is Napa Valley, with nearly 500 wineries. Despite its high concentration of wineries, Napa is actually one of the smallest wine-growing regions in the world, at just 30 miles long and a few miles wide, according to the Napa Valley Vintners Association.

With a variety of microclimates and killer soils, growers produce many styles of wines, from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir to Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

Bothe-Napa Valley State Park has 53 campsites, with one group site, 25 standard sites, 17 tent-only sites and 10 yurts. When you're not wine tasting, hike to Coyote Peak, or relax with a picnic next to the trailside creek.

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Oregon

Oregon is the country's third-largest wine-producing state and has almost 500 wineries and 300 tasting rooms. It's best known for a stellar Pinot Noir. Of the 22,000 acres that vintners harvest in Oregon, more than 15,000 acres are devoted to this variety. You'll also find Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Syrah and Riesling.

While wineries can be found all over the state, the primary growing areas are Willamette Valley and southern Oregon.

Willamette Valley

On the western edge of Oregon is the Willamette Valley, the largest producing wine region in the state. Pinot Noir is king here because the cool-climate grapes used to make this variety appreciate the valley's cool winters and dry summers, according to the Oregon Wine Board.

Willamette Mission State Park is eight miles from Salem, located on 1,600 acres of land, which includes woodland to wetland and rolling hills. You can reserve tent and horse campsites only.

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Rogue Valley and Applegate Valley

There are quite a few wineries in this area, off Interstate 5 and clustered around the historic town of Jacksonville. Make basecamp at the nearby Valley of the Rogue State Park. The Rogue River makes this state park a great spot for fishing, boating, and rafting. The campground has more than 170 sites, some for tenting, some for RVs.

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Washington

Washington is a camper's paradise with the Cascades, Mount Rainier the Columbia River all within the state's boundaries. It's also the second-largest wine producer in the United States, and grapes are its fourth largest fruit crop, according to WashingtonWine.org.

It boasts more than 750 wineries, all of which produce Riesling and Chardonnay, as well as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. While there are some growers in the Puget Sound area, the most popular wine regions are just east of the Cascades.

Columbia Valley

Almost all of Washington's grapes are grown in the Columbia Valley, which encompasses the Walla Walla Valley, Yakima Valley, and the Tri-Cities (Richland, Pasco and Kennewick). You'll find wineries off Highway 82 in Yakima and the Tri-Cities, and Route 12 and 125 in Walla Walla.

Soda Springs Campground is near the Bumping River in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest with 19 standard non-electric campsites—suitable for tents and RVs. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife and hike along Goat Ridge Trail or the Richmond Mine Trail.

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Charbonneau Park on Lake Sacajawea is perfect for fishing, boating or just relaxing near the water. It has 52 standard electric sites and two group shelters.

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Virginia

One of the oldest wine regions in the country, vintners have been growing grapes here since the 17th century. In Jamestown, settlers were obligated by law to plant European vines, but these plants were prone to pests and did not fare well. Even the first and third U.S. presidents, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, tried to grow European grapes and failed, according to VirginiaWine.org.

It wasn't until growers used Native American grapes that they had success. Now Virginia has almost 250 wineries. Chardonnay is the most popularly grown variety in Virginia. Many wineries also produce Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Viognier.

Shenandoah Valley

The Shenandoah Valley is the largest producer of Virginia wine, with more than 30 wineries nestled between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Allegheny Mountains.

Nearly 19 wineries participate in the Shenandoah Wine Trail, where you can mosey from winery to winery with your hiking boots on. The most spectacular time to visit is in the fall, when the leaves turn into a sea of red, yellow and orange, but you can enjoy water sports on the Shenandoah River in the summer including tubing, rafting, canoeing, and kayaking. Camp at the Shenandoah River State Park, with 15 cabins of various sizes, a six-bedroom lodge, 32 standard electric sites, and 10 tent sites.

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New York

New York is home to more than 35 wineries and 1,600 vineyards, according to NewYorkWines.org.

The most popular regions for wine growing are Finger Lakes and Long Island.

Finger Lakes

This region, with 119 wineries, specializes in sparkling wines, ice wine and dessert wine as well as Riesling and Pinot Noir.

If you love fishing, then head to Cayuga Lake State Park. Cayuga Lake is the largest and longest of the Finger Lakes, and is home to bass, trout and salmon. The campground features 14 cabins and 267 campsites, all of which accommodate tents and RVs.

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Long Island

Long Island is the state's newest wine-producing region has 66 wineries and is known for red wine. Get away from the wineries and pitch your tent at Hither Hills State Park, a 168-site campground located near the beach and close to the wineries.

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