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7 lesser-known U.S. wine regions to visit

Jan. 17, 2013, noon
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Top-notch winemaking areas

Everyone knows about the wines of Napa Valley and Sonoma. These two popular viticulture areas and other smaller grape-growing regions in sunny California account for a vast majority of the wines produced in the U.S.

Wine tourism has become a popular pastime for wine lovers and curiosity seekers alike. Each year, millions of people head to California to visit vineyards and wineries. A trip to Napa or Sonoma can prove exciting and interesting, but there are many lesser-known winemaking regions in the U.S. outside of California. The best of these viticulture areas boast high quality wines and beautiful natural landscapes. Tourists often find that the rural setting of winemaking regions is as attractive as visiting the wineries themselves.

Top-notch wineries can be found in most regions of the U.S. Many of these operations, often family run, welcome tourists who want to wander the vineyards, browse through the cellars and taste the final products of the winemaker's efforts. Here are seven lesser-known American winemaking regions where visitors can enjoy some wine, witness the winemaking process and appreciate the beauty of rural America. (Text: Josh Lew)