It's wine time.
Spring means vineyards are reopening for visitors or expanding their hours for tastings and events. If you're looking to enjoy some vino in a picturesque setting over the next few months, here are a few East Coast wine regions to put on your radar.
One of the fastest-growing wine regions in the United States is right in Connecticut. Twenty-five wineries make up the state's sprawling wine trail, many of which are accessible via Metro-North. Popular vineyards include Gouveia Vineyards in Wallingford and Jones Family Farm in Shelton, which in addition to grapes grows strawberries and blueberries in the summer (hence its berry-flavored wine) and pumpkins and Christmas trees in the fall and winter. More info: Ctwine.com
Take the Long Island Rail Road, or, if you're the designated driver, hit Route 25 for the dozens of wineries on the island's North Fork. Notable vineyards include Croteaux, whose rosé proved so tasty last summer the Southold winery ran out, the uber-popular Martha Clara, the refined Raphael's, the laid-back Lenz and the trendy Wolffer, which hosts Sunset Fridays throughout the summer. More info: Liwines.com
Head south to Virginia for more than 230 wineries along dozens of wine trails, including the Bedford Wine Trail overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains, the artisanal wineries of Rappahannock Country and the fine wines of Botetourt County. Hops lovers can also seek out the state's burgeoning craft beer scene, which has grown to nearly a hundred breweries in the past few years. More info: Virginia.org/winetrails.
The Finger Lakes is home to one of the top wine destinations in the world and is the largest wine-growing region in the state, with 11,000 acres of grapes. Most of the activity is found along the shores of Seneca Lake, including Wagner Vineyards and Brewing Company; Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards, the makers of the top-selling Red Cat wine; and Fulkerson Winery, which offers winemaking classes on Saturdays during the fall juice season. Many are dog-friendly, too, if you want to bring your pooch along for the trip. More info: Fingerlakeswinecountry.com