Everyone looks forward to retirement with great anticipation, right? Where will you go? What have you always wanted to do, but never had time for? If you have enough money saved to travel or try new things, this article will be your perfect resource. Even if your pockets aren’t deep, though, many of the locations we have chosen as the best places to retire for wine lovers are still easily attainable. Several are within driving distance of major cities on the East and West Coasts, which makes them great for spur-of-the-moment (or planned) weekend getaways. Regardless of your age, picking a spot on wine.net’s list of the best places to retire for wine lovers is an essential addition to any itinerary or retirement plan. Enjoy!
Our friend Zoe Wyatt (@zdeluca) recommended we speak with David Stannard of Paradise Rescued, a specialty micro wine business located in Cardan, France and Melbourne, Australia. He was kind enough to offer us a recommendation for our list of the best places to retire for wine lovers, and the location is a very familiar one: Bordeaux. Bordeaux is located in southwest France and ranks among the world’s most famous and prestigious wine growing regions. Bordeaux produces 17% of France’s wines and is especially recognized for their dry, medium-bodied reds. These include the notorious Bordeaux red blend, merlot, cabernet, cabernet franc, petit verdot, malbec, carmenere, sauvignon blanc, semillon, and muscadelle. Bordeaux red blends are a combination of merlot and cabernet sauvignon; these two grapes are used because they bud, flower, and ripen at different times and rates.
Mr. Stannard explained that “in terms of a suitable wine retirement location, I would always be happy to comment on our beautiful Bordeaux. Bordeaux is unique because of its heritage as [the location of thousands of] vineyard[s] [that have been around for almost] 2,000 years. To the best of my knowledge, it is the most concentrated area of vineyard[s], comprising some 8,500 producers into a tiny area. You can drive almost non-stop for mile after mile…and you can always see vines mixed with old sandstone buildings, red roofs, and timeless history.” To learn more about Mr. Stannard, visit www.paradiserescued.com and @ParadiseRescued on Twitter. You can find more information on Bordeaux at www.bordeaux.com and www.wine-searcher.com/regions-bordeaux.
The wine.net team also reached out to Jon Karlen of SkiHomes.com, which helps consumers find the ultimate Colorado home and lifestyle. Mr. Karlen recommends Aspen (of course!), and had the following to say: “As far as great places to retire in Colorado go, any of the popular ski areas are wonderful candidates; if I had to pick just one, I would select Aspen. Aspen has four mountains for snowsport enthusiasts to ski on during the day (Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk, and Snowmass), and the city itself strikes the difficult balance of having a truly international flavor while still remaining quaint and charming. It is a totally unique experience from anywhere else I’ve been to in the United States. For discriminating persons that want it all, Aspen would be number one on my list.”
According to Wine-Searcher, the bulk of Colorado’s wine industry “can be found along the state’s western border with Utah, in the high-altitude soils of the Rocky Mountains.” Colorado’s most common varietals are merlot, cabernet sauvignon, riesling, and chardonnay, all of which can be found in Aspen’s restaurants and wine bars. You can learn about retiring in Colorado at www.skihomes.com and @SkiHomesCom on Twitter and find out more about the state’s wine production at http://www.wine-searcher.com/regions-colorado.
Wine-Searcher is a database and search engine that brings together over 8 million wines and prices from almost 60,000 merchants around the world. For more information, visit www.wine-searcher.com and @WineSearcher on Twitter.
Napa Valley (California’s North Coast)
We also had the pleasure of speaking with Elizabeth Smith of www.travelingwinechick.com, and her recommendation for the best place to retire for wine lovers was California’s historic Napa Valley. According to Ms. Smith, Napa has “over 800 wineries and a temperate, maritime-influenced, Mediterranean climate. We have warm, dry summers, and cool, wet winters, which are perfect for grape growing and a retirement lifestyle.”
Napa is located on California’s North Coast, and the region’s most famous vino is the perennially popular chardonnay. This vino is casked in oak bottles and is a delightfully complex, dry wine with a light to medium body. Chardonnays produced in cooler climates feature buttery aromas and impart flavors of vanilla, cinnamon, and clove; those from warmer climates are distinguished by their tropical notes and hints of stone fruits such as peaches and apricots. Wine-Searcher explains that “the first grape vines in Napa County were planted in the late 1830s, [and the Napa Valley] is home to Beringer Vineyards, the county’s oldest continuously operated winery.” You can learn more about the Napa Valley at www.napavalley.com, www.winecountry.com, and www. sonoma.com.
New York State
Another great retirement spot for wine lovers is New York, which ranks third in the United States in volume of wine production. We spoke with Eric Scheffel, senior public information specialist at Empire State Development, and he feels “that with wineries from the Greater Niagara region to Long Island, plus world-class attractions and destinations in all regions, New York State [is] the ideal place for wine lovers to retire.”
Wine-Searcher reports that “the first New York vineyards were planted in the 17th century by Dutch and Huguenot settlers along the Hudson River. After a few centuries of trial and error, in the 1950s and 60s it became clear that riesling was the variety of choice, particularly in upstate locations.” When enjoying a riesling, drinkers should expect a rich and complex wine that is refreshing and bursting with apricot, peach, and citrus flavors. The best rieslings come from vineyards around the Finger Lakes, but New York also grows chardonnay, pinot noir, merlot, vidal, and concord grapes. To learn more about visiting and retiring in New York, visit www.newyorkwines.org and www.nydrinksny.com.
Eric Scheffel is Empire State Development’s senior public information specialist. To learn more, visit www.esd.ny.gov.
Sonoma Valley (California’s North Coast)
When it comes to retiring in California, any wine lover is bound to gravitate towards Sonoma County. Photographer, travel expert, and wine aficionado Kim Hull had the following to say on this subject: Sonoma “has so much to offer–fabulous climate, top entertainment, fabulous food, and over 400 wineries. You can spend a day in San Francisco, which is only 45 minutes away, then return to the casual wine country to live, play, and enjoy world class wines from the 13 different appellations in the county.”
Wine-Searcher agrees that the “Sonoma Valley is arguably America’s second most famous wine region [and] trumped only by the Napa Valley.” Sonoma Valley is known for its cabernet sauvignon, zinfandel, and “ripe, generously flavored (and generally oaked) chardonnay. The occasional Sonoma Valley merlot is also to be found on the market.” Ms. Smith seconded Ms. Hull’s recommendation of the Sonoma Valley, which is sure to be an excellent retirement spot for any wine lover. Learn more about Sonoma Valley at www.sonomavalley.com, www.sonomavalleywine.com, and www.wine-searcher.com. To find out more about Ms. Hull, you can visit her blog, www.cooladventures.com/sonoma or find her on Twitter @KimberliHull.
Kim Hull is a travel expert, photographer, and wine aficionado who runs a blog called Cool Adventures with her husband Greg. Learn more at www.cooladventures.com and @cooladventurers or @kimberlihull on Twitter.
Another excellent spot for wine lovers to retire is Virginia, which is home to more than 100 wineries. According to Wine-Searcher, “wine tourism is of increasing importance [in Virginia], which, along with the increase in wine quality and quantity, suggests a bright future for the state’s wine industry.” Wine.net had the privilege of speaking with travel, food, and wine blogger Julee Morrison, and she had nothing but good things to say about Virginia: “VA has award-winning wines, acres of vineyards, and amazing scenery! Bring a friend! Cheers!” Destinations Travel Magazine agrees, exclaiming that “#Virginia IS #wine country! #VAwine.”
Virginia is best known for its chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, and viognier, and wine has been cultivated in Virginia since the early seventeenth century. To learn more, visit www.virginiawine.org and www.wine-searcher.com/regions-virginia. If you would like to hear more from Ms. Morrison, visit www.mommysmemorandum.com and @jonbonjovious on Twitter.
Wilmington (North Carolina)
When it comes to choosing the best places to retire, Wilmington, North Carolina should be on any vino enthusiast’s list. We reached out to the City of Wilmington and Visit North Carolina, both of whom urged us to include Wilmington. City of Wilmington told wine.net that we should pick Wilmington because it is the “home of @nextglass, #1voted Riverwalk, [and because it has a] historic downtown, @capefearstage, @UNCWilmington, [and] @nhrmc.” Visit North Carolina echoed these sentiments, saying that Wilmington is “a wine lover’s dream.”
According to Wine-Searcher, North Carolina “has a long, illustrious viticultural history. While muscadine grape varieties are native to the region, the best North Carolina wines are made from [grapes] such as cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, merlot, and riesling.” Additionally, “there are now more than 100 wineries making wine from North Carolina grapes, and in the past decade alone, vineyard plantings have almost quadrupled.” To learn more about City of Wilmington, visit www.wilmingtonnc.gov and @CityofWilm on Twitter. For more information on Visit North Carolina, check out www.visitnc.com, http://www.visitnc.com/story/north-carolina-wine-country, and @VisitNC on Twitter.
Although Scotland is not known for their wine (its climate is too cold and wet), the Scottish Isles come highly-recommended as a retirement spot by our friend Ewan Murray of The Wine Society. When we reached out to Mr. Murray, he had the following to say: “Other than ‘in the middle of your favorite vineyard,’ you could choose anywhere in the United Kingdom and we’d be able to deliver our ever-changing range of 1,500 wines to your door, free of charge. Personally, I would choose an Atlantic-buffeted Scottish island, miles from anywhere and anyone, but [also] allowing your palate and mind to wander anywhere in the world.” Another thing to keep in mind: the United Kingdom has been producing high-quality sparkling wine and pinot noir since the 1970s. To learn more, visit http://www.ukimmigration.com/retirement, www.thewinesociety.com, and @TheWineSociety on Twitter.