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Historically, California has enjoyed the lion's share of wine, accounting for nearly 90 percent of the US production. Many states are establishing new wineries as we speak, eager to show off the wine -- and the region's -- intrinsic beauty. It's a lovely and tasty way to spend an afternoon that is also somewhat family friendly -- many vineyards have been around for a generation or more. For the winery road less traveled, it's highly likely there's a vineyard producing very drinkable wine in your own backyard -- or at least very close to it. Wineries can be found in nearly every state: Virginia (97), Ohio (100), Pennsylvania (99), Michigan (90), Missouri (67) and Colorado (54) represent some of the growth. And if you fall in love with a Walla Walla merlot in Washington and you live in New York, you're in luck. Governor George Pataki recently signed a bill that permits out-of-state wine shipments and intra-state wine shipments. Connecticut and Massachusetts are also considering adopting this measure. According to WineAmerica (www.americanwineries.org), a nonprofit trade organization, 31 states with about 70 percent of the population can get wines shipped to them from out-of-state wineries, and the number is climbing. All of this bodes well for small-scale wineries and local economies.

New York

"Uncork New York" is the slogan for the New York Wine and Grape Foundation (tel. 315/536-7442; www.nywine.com), which provides wine locator and information on its site. The Empire State has 219 wineries and ranks third in total production. Big production areas are typically the Finger Lakes and the Hudson River valley, but lately, Long Island is emerging as a new winery area. New York's Tourism Department (tel. 800/CALL-NYS; www.iloveny.com) will post culinary and wine specials next month on its site, but in the meantime, you can find links to a specific region's tourism sites from the main New York site. In the Hudson Valley (tel. 800/232-4782; www.orangecounty.org), just north of Manhattan, they've created a Hudson River Valley Winery Map, a detailed guide to wineries, vineyard, wine and food events, and restaurants that serve the region's wines. The historic Thayer Hotel in West Point (tel. 800/247-5047; www.thethayerhotel.com/hudson_valley_tour.html) is offering a wine package that includes breakfast, dinner and your choice of a tour, from $299 based on double occupancy from Sunday through Friday; Saturday costs $319.

In the Finger Lakes region up north (tel. 800/530-7488; www.fingerlakes.org), there are a handful of packages. Glenora Wine Cellars (tel. 800/243-5513; www.glenora.com) has a "Tour, Wine and Dine" package that includes an escorted tour of other wineries in the region. The four-diamond property Aurora Inn (tel. 866/364-8808; www.aurora-inn.com/specialoffers.html) on Cayuga Lake has a Wine Country Getaway available on Sundays through Thursdays through November that is nothing short of indulgent. For $930 per couple, you'll stay two nights at the lakeside historic property, be greeted with a bottle of wine and New York State cheese and fruit in your guest room and a limo will whisk you off to the Cayuga Wine Trail. There are also Nautical Wine Tours, where you depart from the Aurora and access different wineries by water -- mainly Sheldrake Point and Goose Water, $40-$60 per person, through early October. Also, the Cayuga Wine Trail (tel. 800/684-5217; www.cayugawinetrail.com), an organization of the 15 wineries around the lake, features different packages and deals on their site.

Finally, on Long Island (tel. 877/FUN-ON-LI; www.funonli.com), there's a booming wine business. The Long Island Wine Country B&B Group is running a three night, four day wine camp September 13-16 and November 3-6 for $675 per person. Lodging, meals, tastings, tours, fieldwork and education are all included; you'll also go home with a case of wine.

North Carolina

With 45 wineries and three vineyard-located tasting rooms, North Carolina now ranks tenth nationally in grape production and twelfth for wine, according to the North Carolina Grape Council, (tel. 919/733-7136; www.ncwine.org), which provides a listing and a PDF map of wineries. Those situated in the north-central and western portions of the state mostly feature European and French-American hybrids but the white Muscadine grapes, which are found in the sandy coastal area and often referred to as Scuppernongs, are seeing renewed interest. To honor the state's first cultivated grape, The First Annual Muscadine Wine Festival (tel. 919/296-2181; www.muscadineharvestfestival.com) will be celebrated September 30 and October 1 in Kenansville. Over 20 wineries will be represented, with art, exhibits, food, and of course, wine. Several other festivals are planned for the fall, including the Yadkin Valley Grape Festival in Yadkinville, where wineries such as the 33-year-old Westbend Vineyards (tel. 866/901-5032; www.westbendvineyards.com) in Lewisville will showcase its award-winning European-style wines. Tours are available of the winery on the weekends. Or visit Shelton Vineyards (tel. 336/366-4724; www.sheltonvineyards.com), the state's largest family-owned estate winery. Located in the Yadkin Valley, it's in the northwestern part of the state. Tours are offered daily at this six-year-old winery with 20 acres of wines, with most grape varietals, including an award-winning Sangiovese. The Second Annual Yadkin Valley Grape Festival, October 22, (tel. 336/679-2200; www.yvhf.com) features 13 wineries. Other events include the Great Grapes! Wine & Music Festival (tel. 800/830-3976; www.uncorkthefun.com) held October 8 in Charlotte.

Oregon

A good start here is the Oregon Wine Board and Advocacy Council (tel. 503/228-8336; www.oregonwine.org). With 314 wineries and 519 vineyards, this Pacific Northwest state ranks second in the number of wineries but fourth in total production. The site provides links to specific regions. The southern and eastern parts offer plenty of recreational activities, too. For a guided experience, two companies here lead wine tours. EcoTours of Oregon (tel. 888/TOURS-33; www.ecotours-of-oregon.com) does tours of microbreweries, wineries (full day for $55 per person), and outdoorsy things such as the Columbia River Gorge Waterfalls. Grape Escapes Winery Tours (tel. 503/283-3380; www.grapeescapetours.com) provides wine and food escapes for afternoons, evenings, all day, or upon request, several days.

During the entire month of November, the state is celebrating "Oregon Bounty" (tel. 800/547-7842; www.traveloregon.com/bounty). The effort represents collaboration among the state travel board, wineries, restaurants and the hotel/lodging community to promote the state's wines, cheese, hazelnuts and pears. Wineries will feature complimentary tasting of aforementioned items on weekends in November. There are a few packages available, including one for Yamhill Vineyards Bed & Breakfast (tel. 503/662-3840; www.yamhillvineyardsbb.com), which is offering two nights lodging for two people at $250, good from October 15 through November 30. Dine on desserts incorporating hazelnuts, berries and wine, breakfast with Yamhill grape juice, and a vineyard tour and finally the winery itself.

Texas

You heard it here: The Lone Star state has 91 wineries. According to Texas Wine Trails, even half its residents are unaware of the state's vinicultural inclinations. The number of wineries may not seem like a lot considering its mammoth size; many are found in the northeast and the great plains of the Western part of the state. Start with the Texas Wine Trails (www.texaswinetrails.com), which features information on seven wine trails, suggestions for Texas wine and food pairings, a wine party planner, and other tidbits. Appropriately, the state's own "Mustang grape" is one its earliest discoveries. October is Texas Wine Month -- there are festivals nearly every weekend, including the Heart of Texas Wine & Food Festival in Waco (tel. 254/420-4730). The Gruene Music and Wine Festival in the Gruene historic district of New Braunfels (tel. 830/629-5077; www.gruenetexas.com) takes place for the 19th year running October 7-9; the town is located between Austin and San Antonio and features about 20 Texas wineries, gospel and rock performances to benefit the local United Way and Hope Hospice. September starts the season with Grapefest in Grapevine (tel. 800/457-6338; www.grapevinetexasusa.com/grapefest), from September 8-11. This multi-day affair features award-winning Texas wines and a wine tasting vote, participatation in the grape stomp and a vie for the "purple foot award" and visits to tasting rooms via complimentary shuttles.

Washington

If you're looking at Oregon, you might also consider Washington (www.visitwashington.com), which ranks second in production and has over 350 wineries. Visit the Washington State Wine Commission (tel. 206/667-9463; www.washingtonwine.org), or visit the friendly Tasting Room in downtown Seattle (tel. 206/770-9463; www.winesofwashington.com). The latter features artisanal and hard-to-find state wines; tastings poured by the helpful staff are available for a small fee. The Columbia Valley Winery Association (tel. 866/360-6611; www.columbiavalleywine.com) is throwing a "Catch the Crush" festival September 24-25. Another good starting point is the Washington Wine Tours company (tel. 877/689-8687; www.washingtonwinetours.com) which has tours of Woodinville running on Saturdays in September, a day tour of Walla Walla Winery September 24, and the Sherdian Third Annual Grand Crush Event on October 1 at the Sheridan Vineyard -- you actually get to pick the grapes, crush them, and receive quarterly updates from that point forward on how "your wine" is doing.

The Walla Walla area (tel. 509/526-3117; www.wallawallawine.com) is gaining a lot of attention lately for its careful attentive growers such as Rick Small at Woodward Canyon and Gary Figgins of Leonetti Cellar. Some enthusiasts are hyping it as the next Napa, but Walla Walla is at least three hours from any metro area while Napa is not. There are several events in the fall listed on the site, including a Winemakers Weekend September 16-17 held at the Marcus Whitman Hotel (tel. 866/826-9422; www.marcuswhitmanhotel.com) in downtown Walla Walla. "A Touch of the Grape" package is available anytime from $189, and it includes one-night stay, a bottle of the hotel's own red wine, and a dining voucher.

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