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A sommelier reveals 9 incredible US wine regions that aren't Napa

Finger Lakes NY Wine VineyardShutterstock

While most people turn to France and Italy when they think of incredible wine regions, there are plenty right here in the US.

And we don’t mean Napa and Sonoma.

While those are great, ditch the crowds they draw and check out the many other incredible wine growing regions dispersed throughout the country.

James Tidwell, Master Sommelier at the Four Seasons Resort in Dallas, Texas, revealed some of the most underhyped, up-and-coming wine regions in the country.

From the sparkling wines of New Mexico to the signature Rieslings made in upstate New York, here are Tidwell’s favourite US wine regions.

Texas Hill Country, Texas

While Texas officially has eight recognised wine growing regions, Tidwell believes there are two standout areas -- one of which is Texas Hill Country.

As a Texas resident himself, Tidwell is proud of the world-class wines the area produces. '(The state) is making great wine, mostly from grape varieties you would find in places like Spain, southern France, and Italy,' he said.

In fact, Texas Hill Country sits on nine million acres, stretching across 25 counties. The Lone Star state is said to be one of the fastest-growing wine regions in the country, and the area itself has become one of the fastest growing tourist destinations.

Texas High Plains, Texas

Mostly below the Panhandle area of the state, this region has a lofty elevation and low annual precipitation, making it the ideal climate to grow sweeter grapes.

Local varietals include Merlot, Malbec, and Montepulciano.

Albuquerque, New Mexico

According to Tidwell, New Mexico produces 'some amazing sparkling wines that are very well known among sommeliers.'

One winery he loves in particular is the Gruet Winery, a family-owned winery that specialises in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay-based sparkling wines, as well as a number of non-carbonated wines.

Santa Barbara, California

Though lesser known than neighbouring Napa and Sonoma, this California wine region is just as beautiful.

Tidwell enjoys the area's refreshing whites, like Chardonnay, as well as its mellow Pinot Noirs and Syrahs.

Walla Walla Valley, Washington

While wine producing was not established in this area until pretty recently, Washington has quickly become the country's second-largest wine producing state.

Since the 1970s, wineries in this isolated area have made distinct and delicious Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah.

Finger Lakes region, New York

New York is the third-largest wine producing state in the country. 'The Finger Lakes region is definitely a standout there,' said Tidwell.

Since this northern part of the state is wrapped around lakes like Seneca and Cayuga, there are micro climates with cooler temperatures, which are ideal for growing grapes to make the area's signature Riesling.

Loudoun County, Virginia

'Although I haven't tried as many as I'd like, I know that Virginia makes excellent Bourdeaux,' said Tidwell.

Loudoun County is just 45 minutes from D.C., and, according to Tidwell, produces varieties you'd typically find in French wine regions, such as Burgundy from Bordeaux and Viogniers from Côtes du Rhone.

Traverse City, Michigan

While Michigan state contains four American Viticultural Areas, almost all of its wine grapes are grown within around 25 miles of Lake Michigan.

Traverse City is located on the same parallel as Burgundy and Bordeaux, and while the region became internationally known for its white wines, like Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio, it's increasingly becoming known for its French-style reds like Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc and Merlot.

Willamette Valley, Oregon

This 150-mile long valley produces wines that have won accolades both domestically and abroad.

Tidwell remarked that the state's delicious Pinot Noirs are well-known for a reason, though he also mentions fuller-bodied varieties of red wine like Cabernet, which he said thrive in southern Oregon's warmer climates.

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