Best of Lists

Best of Wineries for Boaters

Oenophiles on Board



Fertile in history and also in the soil needed to grow a variety of grapes, Virginia is home to 15 wine regions and 150 vineyards. The Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail in the same-named region highlights six wineries and presents a very obliging setting for those visiting by boat. Awaiting discovery here are such varietals as Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Seyval Blanc, Syrah and Vidal Blanc. To the south, the Hampton Roads Region provides the same popular choices as well as the Norton grape, which is native to Virginia. When you're done wine tasting, take a visit to Williamsburg, Yorktown and Jamestown, the three cities that comprise the Historic Triangle, the birthplace of American democracy.

Situated on a 300-acre farm, the Williamsburg Winery has been rated one of the world's best wine producers by Decanter magazine for six consecutive years (757-564-8869, Dock at Kingsmill Resort & Marina in Williamsburg (757-253-1703,


Called the Napa Valley of the Midwest, this area stretches across the southwestern corner of Michigan from theIndiana-Michigan state line, north to the Kalamazoo River and east toward the City of Kalamazoo. The lake is the key: It creates a temperate climate that prevents extremes of heat and cold, protecting fragile buds in spring and ripening fruits in summer, while the lake-effect snows insulate the rich soil so the vine roots won't freeze in winter. More than a dozen wineries and tasting rooms utilize some of the finest grape stock from France and Germany, resulting in fruit-influenced reds like Cabernet Franc and elegant, fresh whites such as Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.

Family owned and operated Fenn Valley Vineyards & Winery has been crafting estate-grown, award-winning wines since 1973 (800-432-6265, Dock at Anchorage Marina Yacht Club in Holland (616-399-1802,


You can thank the Oscar-winning film Sideways for shining a spotlight on the Santa Barbara wine industry. Happily, most of these family-owned wineries have retained their cottage stature and charm, with small vintages and a handcrafted aesthetic. The wineries are mainly found in the Santa Ynez and Santa Maria valleys, about 35 miles north of Santa Barbara. Culturally rich with breathtaking coastal scenery, the vineyards here specialize in Syrah, Syrah-blends and Pinot Noirs. However, the region is also known for some excellent Chardonnays and Cabernets, as well as smaller quantities of varietals that include Mouverdre, Grenache and Viognier.


Fess Parker Winery, located in the town of Los Olivos, offers visitors a boutique hotel with upscale restaurant and spa (800-841-1104, Dock at Santa Barbara Harbor (805-564-5531,


We all know drinking and boating don't mix. So, it's somewhat ironic that the maritime climate, geography and soil characteristics are what provide the ideal conditions for producing wines of exceptional quality on Long Island, N.Y. The wine region here encompasses Nassau and Suffolk counties, with the majority of vineyards at the East End, on the North and South Forks. The area's more than 50 wineries are best known for crisp, dry whites made from Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Pinot Grigio, and complex reds made from Merlot and Merlot- based blends, but they also produce diverse styles such as fruity Rosés and exuberant sparkling wines.

Known grape grower John Wickman created the wine industry on Long Island in 1973. His brother, Charlie, helps manage the Peconic Bay Winery (631-734-7361, Dock at Brewer Stirling Harbor Marina in Greenport (631-447-0828, or Mitchell Park Marina in Greenport (631-477-2200). The oldest winery on the East End is Castello di Borghese, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year (631-734-5111, Dock at Matt-A-Mar Marina in Cutchogue (631-298-4739,


Located on approximately the same latitude (46ºN) as some of the great French wine regions of Bordeaux and Burgundy, the state of Washington has exploded onto the wine scene in the past decade it almost seems a new winery opens every few weeks. The quality of Washington wines is superb, the volume of recognition is growing, and the enthusiasm of winemakers is abundant. The Woodinville Region, about 30 miles from downtown Seattle, is nestled in the beautiful Sammamish River Valley and represents every appellation in the state. The Red Mountain Region includes the land surrounding Red Mountain in Benton County and is known for its fruit-driven Cabernet Sauvignons.


Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville is one of Washington's oldest and most acclaimed wineries, with a summertime performing arts series featuring top talent (425-488-1133, Dock at Carillon Point Marina in Kirkland (425-822-1700, Terra Blanca Winery in Benton City is a green winery and applies only natural methods to control weeds and pests (509-588.6082, Dock at Clover Island Marina in Kennewick (509-586-1186,

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