With their rolling hills, big skies and lush flora stretching for miles, wine regions offer unmatched scenic serenity ideal for a day-long respite or week-long getaway. Wine tasting tours draw millions of visitors each year. But these days, there's more to a wine country visit than tipping stemware. Many wineries are turning some of their plentiful acreage into spectacular gardens that host weddings, anniversaries and reunions, or simply expand a traveler's wine tour experience.
Let's have a look at 10 eye-popping wine country gardens.
Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion
Japanese, Italian, Moonlight and Rock are just a sampling of the nine themed gardens at the stunning Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion. Located in Canandaigua, N.Y., in the western portion of the Finger Lakes Cayuga Lake Wine Trail, many of the gardens reflect the original early 20th-century designs of the owner of more than a century ago. Now a New York State Historic Park, the gardens reflect various cultures and historic periods, including 12th-century Asia, 4th-century Rome and the French Renaissance. A Victorian-era greenhouse is home to tropical plants and flowers, such as orchids and succulents, as well as vegetables.
The Gardens of Ferrari-Carano Winery
With each season comes a changing color palette at the five-acre gardens of Ferrari-Carano Winery in Sonoma County, Calif. Winding paths and arched bridges along a flowing stream lead you past roses and through more than 2,000 types of trees -- they're even marked with identification tags. It will be worth the stroll; waterfalls at each end of the stream flow into fish ponds. In spring, you'll be treated to more than 10,000 tulips and daffodils. (Call the Tulip Hotline at (707) 433-5349 in late winter or early spring to learn when the tulips will be in full bloom.)
The Gardens of Matanzas Creek Winery
Think purple when you head to Matanzas Creek Winery in Sonoma County, Calif. Matanzas is famous for its expansive lavender fields. There are two types of lavender here: Province, a culinary lavender, and Grosso, which is slightly darker in color and is popular for its strong fragrance. The lavender fields are in full bloom in June, and you can buy lavender wreaths, potpourri, oils and other lavender products at the gift shop. The rest of the gardens at Matanzas Creek Winery include olive trees, exotic grasses, herbs and blooming flowers.
Wine Country Gardens
Missouri has a number of wine regions and nearly 80 wineries. Wine Country Gardens in Defiance doesn't make its own, but the establishment serves many fine wines at its 42-acre nursery and farm. Wine Country Gardens is renowned for its gorgeous daylily fields; you can attend the Daylily Festival in June and July. Aside from the colorful daylilies, you can enjoy a number of perennials, annuals and tropicals, plus surrounding patios, duck- and swan-filled ponds, and waterfalls against a vista of the Missouri River Valley.
The Wine Country Inn & Gardens
Napa Valley in California is a major U.S. wine region, and The Wine Country Inn & Gardens offers its guests ways to take full advantage of the surroundings. The grounds feature annual flowers, draping vines, 80-year-old olive trees and 100-year-old oaks, with cobbled walking paths to guide your garden journey. Something special: This inn's Inn-cursion program provides rides to local wineries and restaurants so guests can indulge while leaving the designated driving to the inn staff.
The Gardens of Korbel California Champagne
The most notable find at the gardens of Korbel California Champagne of Sonoma County, Calif., is the famous antique rose garden. This garden, designed in the 1880s, is a showcase of 250 varieties of antique roses. Scattered throughout is a variety of microclimates, each nurturing plants and flowers native to different parts of the world. Tours of the Korbel winery and its gardens are offered from mid-April through mid-October.
ThornCreek Winery & Gardens
ThornCreek Winery & Gardens, one of 148 wineries in Ohio, is seven acres of gardens and natural habitats in the city of Aurora. Brick walkways meander through the blooming gardens. Fill a wine glass and take it on a stroll to the many outdoor garden rooms. The beauty of the gardens should come as no surprise: The owner of the winery is a landscape architect, and ThornCreek serves as a showcase for his business. Tip: Visit at the right time on the right night, and you'll be serenaded by live music while warming up by a fire.
The Biltmore Estate
One of the most famous estates in America, the 8,000-acre Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C., has its own winery and features one of the most esteemed gardens in the country. There are ponds and waterfalls, and formal and informal gardens abound. You can stroll amid ancient trees, tropical plants, orchids, weeping cherries, tulips, the 250-variety All American Rose Garden and a 250-acre deer park with white-tailed deer denizens. Starting in August, the south terrace of Biltmore House is transformed into what's called a magic carpet, formed by more than 155,000 individual plants arranged in different detailed patterns.
The Gardens of CornerStone Sonoma
Sonoma County in California has more than its fair share of wine country gardens, and CornerStone Sonoma ranks among the most unique. CornerStone has an evolving display of 20 or so different gardens of 1,800 square feet each, all designed by different visionaries. The artists were given no guidelines, so each space is pulled right out of the imaginations of some of the finest landscape designers in the country. You might see an array of colorful birdhouses in one, giant pebbles in another and an ode to the globe's diminishing tree supply in a third. Each one is a work of art.
The Gardens of Kendall-Jackson
Outstanding among wine country gardens are those of Kendall-Jackson in Sonoma County, Calif. An innovative blend of food and wine is presented in themed gardens such as White Wine Sensory, International Cuisine, Culinary Herb & Edible Flower, Viticultural and more. In the Red Sensory Garden, seasonal plantings may include beets, garlic, sage and squash as examples of optimal food-wine pairings. In the International Gardens are ingredients used in French, Italian, South American and Asian cooking. The Vegetable Trial Garden is quite a sight; more than 180 varieties of heirloom tomatoes are cultivated each year and are planted according to color.
For more wine and travel articles, check out the links on the next page.
Are you looking for tips for biking through wine country? Check out this article and learn 10 tips for biking through wine country.
- Biltmore. (July 8, 2011) http://www.biltmore.com/
- California Wine Institute. (July 8, 2011) http://www.wineinstitute.org/files/CA_EIR_Flyer_2011_Apr15.pdf
- CornerStone Sonoma. (July 8, 2011) http://www.cornerstonegardens.com/
- Ferrari-Carano Winery. (July 8, 2011) http://www.ferrari-carano.com/
- Kendall-Jackson. (July 8, 2011) http://www.kj.com/
- Korbel California Champagne. (July 8, 2011) http://www.korbel.com/
- Matanzas Creek Winery. (July 8, 2011) http://www.matanzascreek.com/
- Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion. (July 8, 2011) http://www.sonnenberg.org/
- ThornCreek Winery and Gardens. (July 8, 2011) http://www.thorncreekwinery.com/
- Wine Country Gardens. (July 8, 2011) http://winecountrygardens.net/
- The Wine Country Inn & Gardens. (July 8, 2011) http://www.winecountryinn.com/