Buttermilk Falls Inn is home-base for New York's Hudson Valley vineyard tours
2. New York's Hudson Valley is one of those places where you either know about the wines, or you don't. One place you'll learn about them is at Whitecliff Vineyard in Gardiner. On Sundays in October, one of the owners will take you on one of their rare tours of this family winery and its fermenting grapes. They'll even let you try your hand at "punch down", which is helping combine the fermenting juice and skins to extract color and flavor for their Cabernet Francs, Seyval Blancs, and Pinot Noirs. After that, there are over a dozen other wineries in the area, but you'll probably be tempted to head back to your luxury B&B, the Buttermilk Falls Inn and Spa, just 20 minutes away. The 75-acre estate that over looks the Hudson River is just the place for a peaceful getaway from city life. Add their farm-to-table restaurant, organic kitchen garden and spa and you have a trifecta of tranquility. Rates begin at $300 in October and include full country breakfast.
3. On October 12-13, join the Yakima Valley wineries in Washington state to celebrate the harvest at the annual "Catch the Crush" event. Each vineyard offers their own celebrations, including grape stomps, harvest and crush activities, tours, free-run juice, hors d'oeuvres, live music, and of course, Reisling and Chardonnay tastings. Your home base can be the Birchfield Manor Inn also in Yakima. The estate was built in 1910 and has both a five-bedroom main building and six-bedroom Cottage. All country-chic quarters (which have cute names like Jenny and Alison) have brass queen beds or canopies, and some have two-person hot tubs. From $119 including full or Continental breakfast.
4. Kimpton's Canary Hotel, a Spanish stucco beauty in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara has an “Urban Wine Trail” package that includes a map and discounts to wineries in the Santa Ynez Valley just a mile away from the hotel that have more than 20 urban tasting rooms from all around the Central Coast. The package includes deluxe accommodations, wine and cheese upon arrival, as well as free valet parking. As usual, Kimpton guests get complimentary WiFi and can take part in the hotel's own free evening wine hour before heading to their mountain or seaview room. To reserve call (805) 884-0300 and request the “Urban Wine Trail” package, or book online using rate code WINE. Room rates begin at $270 per night.
Tips to Enjoy Harvest Season:
*Bring a jacket--it can be chilly first thing in the morning and around sunset
*Wear a good pair of shoes--there's lots of walking to be done, and also standing around multiple bar requires orthopedic stamina
*Tote your own wineglass--may sound strange, put popular vineyards often run out, especially at events and festivals. Either bring one, or purchase one as a souvenir
*Have a designated driver--there'll be a whole lot of sipping' going on. Arrange for a car service or switch days as designated driver so everyone can enjoy the fun.
*Don't forget your ID--'Nuff said.
[Photos: Salamander Hotels/ Buttermilk Falls Inn/Virginia Tourism]