American wine tends to be upstaged by Europe’s offerings on the international stage, and when the conversation is U.S.-centric, the Napa Valley consistently gets the most attention. But there are noteworthy wineries in all 50 states, with some growing at an incredible rate.

So, where are the hidden gems across the nation? We decided to ask the folks who know best: sommeliers and winemakers themselves. They’ve highlighted a Virginian renaissance that utilizes centuries-old vines, vineyards in upstate New York that are growing varietals often only seen in Central Europe, and even regions that may seem well established but continue to show impressive range due to the soil diversity.

Here, the stateside winemaking areas that deserve some extra attention.

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The most underrated American wine regions, according to wine pros:

  • Monticello, Virginia
  • Walla Walla Valley, Washington
  • Western North Carolina
  • Finger Lakes, New York
  • Northern Virginia
  • Santa Cruz Mountains, California
  • Sonoma County, California
  • Willamette Valley, Oregon
  • Temecula Valley, California

“​​Monticello in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains is a standout. Vines have been in the area since the 1700s, but there’s been a sort of renaissance over the past couple of decades. Petit Manseng is putting this region on the map, [as] we don’t see much of this grape outside of southwest France, but it has found a second home in Virginia’s clay-heavy, cool, mountainous terroir. Early Mountain Vineyards is one of my favorite [wines], balancing the rich texture of this thick-skinned grape with its racy acidity and aromatic stone fruits.

[Additionally], Washington State shares the same latitude as some of the top sites in France, Germany, and Italy and is home to many of the natural features found in world-class wine regions: a volcanic foundation, big night-and-day temperature fluctuations, and mountain ranges to protect it from rain. And yet, it’s still flying under the radar. Walla Walla Valley is a region mostly known for reds made from premium Bordeaux varieties and Syrah, and Spring Valley Vineyard’s Nina Lee Syrah comes to mind as a seamless expression of black fruit flavors, meatiness, and firm tannins characteristic of this area. Winemakers are experimenting with 80-plus varieties in the state, so you can truly find a wine that belongs on any table.” —Abe Zarate, head sommelier, Contento, NYC

“Western North Carolina is one of America’s hidden gems when it comes to wine. The unique climate and diverse landscapes here in Hendersonville and the surrounding areas produce some truly amazing wines that surprise and delight visitors. The climate in particular allows for consistent production of many varietals of wine to flourish.” —Tyler Miller, sommelier and general manager, The Silo Cookhouse, Henderson, N.C.

“The Finger Lakes AVA is the most underrated region, in my opinion. While it’s known for its Rieslings and ice wine — and rightfully so — its red wines do not get nearly as much attention. The region primarily grows Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot, but there are some other lesser-known grapes that show great quality and value, like Blaufränkisch. The varietal is rarely seen outside of Central Europe, its native homeland, and is great for the consumer that enjoys a more medium-bodied wine and has a curious palate. The Blaufränkisch coming from the Finger Lakes has lots of ripe, juicy, black fruit notes, followed by baking spices and black pepper. It’s also a rather food-friendly grape, so it’s a great value wine to pair with grilled meats.” —Lane Letner, sommelier, ELWAY’S Downtown, Denver

“Northern Virginia has a rich history of affluent families focusing on horses and cultivating vineyards. While the region initially faced challenges in establishing a strong reputation, it has now emerged as a producer of notable wines. Today, many local wineries offer outstanding selections such as White Hall Reserve Chardonnay, which I highly recommend. This cuvée, aged in French oak and crafted from hand-picked grapes selected for their superior quality, features robust fruit concentration, well-balanced acidity, and a delicate vanilla finish, reflecting the region’s commitment to quality winemaking.” —Vincent Feraud, sommelier and director of restaurants, The Ritz-Carlton, McLean, Va.

“The Santa Cruz Mountains are somewhat of a hidden gem, I think they are creating wines on the same quality level as Napa and Sonoma. [The area has] ancient limestone soils at altitudes up to 2,500 feet, surrounded by redwood trees. Ridge and Mount Eden produce excellent classic wines; Ceritas and Arnot-Roberts create terroir-driven wines from vineyards closer to the ocean. It’s a region I am endlessly curious about. Another impressive region is the Monticello AVA in Virginia. I’m particularly impressed by Early Mountain’s Petit Menseng. Rich, supple, and versatile, it pairs wonderfully with seafood.” —Blake Mysliwczyk, sommelier, The Modern, NYC

“I think Sonoma County is still one of the most underrated American wine regions. It certainly has built an incredible following, but I think Sonoma County takes [on] a bit more discovery [among] the more established regions. There is no other region I know of that can make so many different types and styles of wine at such a high level than Sonoma. There are so many different soil types in Sonoma, … along with many different microclimates, thanks to the vast influence of the Pacific Ocean. There are areas in Sonoma cooler than Champagne and warmer than Bordeaux, so what can be grown here at a very high level is vast. I think we are just now starting to understand what areas are best for each varietal in this complex region, and the best wines in the region’s history are being made now.” —Jesse Katz, founder & winemaker, Aperture Cellars, Healdsburg, Calif.

“Oregon’s Willamette Valley is truly the hidden gem of the American wine landscape — especially compared to its nearby counterparts on the West coast. Its unique combination of diverse soils, cool coastal climate, and meticulous viticulture practices create the perfect conditions for exceptional winemaking. The region’s commitment to artisanal winemaking and the collaborative spirit among local vintners further contribute to its unmatched potential and ability to consistently produce small-batched and high-quality, expressive wines that deserve greater recognition on the global stage.” —Mari Wells Coyle, VP of winemaking, Foley Family Wines, Santa Rosa, Calif.

“I feel Temecula is an underrated wine region for a few reasons. First, you can enjoy almost any style of wine in Temecula Valley, from powerful and intense red wines to crisp sparkling wines to indulgent dessert wines. [There’s also] the spirit of innovation and excitement for the future that abounds in our valley: While other regions in California have had 100 years or more of commercial wine production, Temecula Valley has only just had its 50th anniversary in 2018. This means that there is a desire to try new and unique grape varieties such as Aglianico, Graciano, and Roussanne that might not be widely planted elsewhere in California. It also means an openness to new winemaking styles, such as aging wine in concrete eggs or taking grapes typically known for making one style of wine and using them to make a different one, such as Aleatico Rosé.” —Matt Rice, director of winery operations, Europa Village, Temecula, Calif.

*Image retrieved from Kristina Blokhin via