Best Wine Destinations Outside Napa

wine country retirement travel ideas

Scenery. Comradery. Great spirits—literally and figuratively. When it comes to retirement travel ideas, a trip to wine country checks all the boxes. That’s the good news. The even better news: You don’t have to invade your savings and fly to France or Napa to experience the joys of wine tasting. There are some less well-known wine destinations—possibly right in your own backyard—that are exactly what the sommelier ordered for a perfect, affordable, wine adventure.

Texas Hill Country

To most of us, Texas is more about cowboys, than cabernet. And yet, its mid-state hill country is a well-established wine producing region with over 50 stunning wineries scattered throughout. With its dry climate, comparable to Australia and Spain, Texas features wines like Cabernet and Syrah, made from grapes that flourish in the heat. If you like a little hiking with your tasting, the hill country’s untouched wilderness will add to this wine destination’s appeal.

For active adults enjoying the culture and sophistication of daily life in Austin, Texas wine country is but a short drive away, making it the perfect getaway.

Lancaster Valley, Pennsylvania

Where only three decades ago there were a mere handful of wineries in Lancaster Valley, today there are more than 20 and their wines are beginning to give competitors out west a run for their money. This emerging wine region is located in the heart of Amish Country, an area oozing with old world charm, as well as exquisite cuisine and contemporary art. See the sights of Philadelphia and then hop in the car and head out to Lancaster for a day in wine country, and well…just the country.


Though Thomas Jefferson is remembered as many things, a vintner is not one of them. Though he tried to harvest wine-worthy grapes at Monticello, he apparently did not have a green—or purple—thumb. Imagine his surprise at learning his beloved Virginia is now a major up and coming wine region with nearly 300 wineries and dozens of popular wine trails. The scenery is lavish, the views breathtaking, and the small quaint towns and historic sites make Virginia wine tasting much more than sniff, sip, swish and swallow.

In fact, a day out on the wine trail can include live music, hot air balloon rides and culminate in an exclusive winemaker’s dinner.

If you are lucky enough to be living the good life in Virginia Beach, there are plenty of wineries nearby that can be a delightful day or weekend trip.


Colorado is a fixture on the craft beer scene, but its wines, and spectacularly located wineries, are worthy of note as well. Nestled in the high altitudes of the western slope of the Rockies, where warm days and cool nights create ideal conditions for Merlot, Chardonnay and Riesling grapes, Colorado’s wineries are some of the highest in the world. Nature lovers will be thrilled by the stunning views and great hiking that provide the backdrop for this wine destination.

For active adults living in the Denver area, there are also dozens of wineries and tasting rooms within shouting distance. It will be a day trip you and your buddies will remember!

Plan an outing to any of these hidden gems, and you’ll be the envy of the gang at Happy Hour as you share the fruits of your new discoveries.