Beer & Wine Wine

Why You Should Be Drinking East Coast Wines Right Now and Which Bottes to Try

Haven’t tried wines from Newport yet? You should.

Glass of red wine

Getty Images / Silberkorn

East Coast wine regions have long lived in the shadows of their West Coast counterparts—until now. Finally (and thankfully), things are beginning to change. As much as we love juice from Napa and beyond, countless hidden gems are scattered along the other side of the country, just waiting to be discovered. 

What follows is the reasons to give East Coast wine regions a chance, as well as some of our favorite areas, estates and bottles to sip.

They’re Full of Diversity 

Because of their varying climates and topographical conditions, East Coast wineries are brimming with diversity among grape varieties and winemaking styles. Whether acid-driven riesling, refreshing bubbles or skin-contact “orange” wine is more your thing, there’s absolutely something for every palate preference to be found on the East Coast.

They’re (Relatively) Small 

Contrary to the many big brands that exist on the West Coast of the United States, there really isn’t much mass-produced wine being made on the East Coast. The majority of East Coast wineries are small and family-run, meaning that the bottles coming out of these establishments are generally artisanal products made from estate-grown fruit. 

They’re Right in Our Backyard

East Coasters can forget the need to hop a flight for six hours in either direction. There are a handful of wine regions looming just up the road. Wine is produced in almost every state in the country, which means getting your vineyard fix is as easy as hopping in the car and taking a quick drive. However, not all regions (and wineries) are created equal. These are a few of the best. 

  • Finger Lakes, New York

    Finger Lakes wine region

    Getty Images / Anita Warren-Hampson

    This northerly New York region was one of the first wine-producing areas on the East Coast to gain serious respect for its well-made wines. Although beautiful to visit year-round, this foliage-heavy region is breathtaking during late summer and early fall. Most of New York’s Finger Lakes grapes are cultivated around Seneca, Cayuga, Keuka and Canandaigua Lakes. Although many grapes are planted here, the Finger Lakes region is best known for its riesling (bone dry, semi-sweet and beyond), pinot noir and hybrid plantings. 

     Bottles to try:

  • Long Island, New York

    Long Island wine region

    Getty Images / cristianl

    Forget the Hamptons (aside from Channing Daughters winery, which we love). Long Island’s North Fork is where it’s at. Although most of eastern Long Island’s agriculture was dedicated to potatoes until very recently, the region has become one of the East Coast’s greatest escapes for vineyard visits and delicious wines, all located just a hop, skip and jump away from the salty ocean. Although a variety of grapes and winemaking styles can be found here, Long Island has become known for its merlot, chardonnay and cabernet franc. 

     Bottles to try:

  • Monticello Wine Trail (Charlottesville), Virginia

    Monticello wine trail

    Getty Images / ablokhin

    Virginia wine country is a no-brainer for those looking to sip with a side of history. Dubbed the birthplace of American wine, this early easterly wine region was heavily pioneered by Thomas Jefferson, who had a long-standing love affair with French viticulture. Today, Monticello is one of Virginia’s most booming viticultural zones. Tucked between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the quaint town of Charlottesville, this region is perfect for getting your urban and nature fix all at once—with a glass in hand, of course. 

     Bottles to try:

  • Newport, Rhode Island

    Newport wine region

    Getty Images / ArdenSt

    Looking to sip with a view? This breathtaking New England region is located along the Coastal Wine Trail, which provides a gorgeous backdrop for winery visits year-round. The region is dotted with small wineries, breweries and restaurants that are perfect for trying something locally produced. Be sure to hit Newport Vineyards, one of the region’s most highly regarded and long-standing estates, founded in 1977. 

     Bottles to try: