5 Great U.S. Destinations for Golf and Wine

There are some things that just go together.

Peanut Butter and Jelly. Abbott and Costello. Lemonade and iced tea.

Golf and wine? Absolutely.

Golf’s oldest trophy is called the “Claret Jug,” after all…

Am I suggesting that you stuff a decanter in your golf bag the next time you tee it up?

Not exactly (although that would look hilarious—please send us a picture if you try this), but if you like and/or want to learn more about wine, should you plan a golf trip that features some wine tastings?

Again, absolutely.

The only question is: where?

Here are our favorites in the U.S.:

Napa/Sonoma Counties, California

This is the obvious choice. Napa and Sonoma are home to more than 800 wineries, so if you visited one a day, you’d need more than two years to see them all.

As for golf, the choices are not as broad, but they’re plenty juicy. In Napa County, we like Chardonnay Golf Club and Eagle Vines Golf Club, both located in the southern-Napa town of American Canyon. Both courses have holes that play over and around active rows of wine grapes. Silverado Resort & Spa, host of this week’s Frys.com Open, is also an excellent choice.

If you want a bit of adventure, we direct you farther north in the county, to Pope Valley’s Aetna Springs Golf Course. It’s a nine-holer that claims to be the oldest golf course west of the Mississippi. Tom Doak restored much of the course’s rustic charm a few years ago, and it’s such fun that we would gladly play 27 holes in a day there.

In Sonoma County, don’t let Sonoma Golf Club’s technically “private” status deter you; stay at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and you can arrange to play this classic and favorite of the late Sam Snead. For a more low-key public golf experience that is a true bargain, hit up Windsor Golf Club near the hip small city of Santa Rosa.

Winery suggestions: Napa: Beaulieu Vineyard, Domaine Chandon, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars; Sonoma: Hanzell Vineyards, Lancaster Estate, Seghesio Family Vineyard

Willamette Valley, Oregon

Understandably overshadowed by its neighbor to the south, nevertheless the Beaver State produces its share of great wines, many emanating from the Willamette Valley, which extends from Portland in the north to Eugene in the south.

Towards the top of the Valley, the half-private, half-public Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club is one of the state’s best facilities, having hosted the last of Tiger Woods’ three U.S. Amateur triumphs. Its Ghost Creek Course, open to the public, is ranked seventh in the state by Golf Digest.

Consider also a round at Langdon Farms Golf Club in the Portland suburb of Aurora is a top area public course, designed by Bob Cupp and John Fought. Moving south (but still in the Portland area), the golf course owned and operated by the Oregon Golf Association hosted the Oregon Amateur Championship in 2014, a testament to both its design and conditioning. Green fees top out below $60, with cart.

Winery suggestions:  Archery Summit (Dayton), Domaine Drouhin (Dayton), Domaine Serene (Dayton),Willamette Valley Vineyards (Turner)

Northern Virginia

Just south of Washington DC is an up-and coming region that is producing a number of well-regarded wines, such that if you live on the east coast and a trip to California or Oregon is beyond your schedule and/or budget, you may be pleased to make the rounds at a number of terrific golf courses and a few of more than 80 wineries in “NoVa.” Many of these are located along I-66, which runs east-west across the region.

If you want a bona-fide golf resort to serve as your base of operations in Virginia, we suggest Lansdowne in Leesburg. It has highly-ranked courses designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., including the nine-hole, Norman-designed “Sharkbite” executive course, perfect for families or a quick, late-afternoon bit of golf.

Other attractive public golf options in the area include the Fred Couples-designed Westfields Golf Club in Clifton, 1757 Golf Club in Dulles and 2013 U.S. Public Links Championship host Laurel Hill Golf Club in Lorton.

Winery suggestions: Crushed Cellars (Purcellville), Three Fox Vineyards (Delaplane), Zephaniah Farm Vineyard (Leesburg)

New York?

We wouldn’t blame you for thinking more of apples than grapes when it comes to the Empire State, but nevertheless there are some solid wines being made in two parts of the state in particular, and both areas are ripe for a golf trip.

In the Finger Lakes region of the state, between Syracuse, Elmira and Rochester, you’ll find the four-course Finger Lakes Golf Trail. Located in Canandaigua, Bristol Harbour Resort’s golf course is a Robert Trent Jones, Sr. layout that opened in 1972. Closer to Rochester are Greystone Golf Club, in Walworth, Mill Creek Golf Club, in Churchville, and Ravenwood Golf Club, in Victor, which Golfweek ranks as the eighth-best public course in the entire state. For a bit of Ivy League collegiate atmosphere, check out the Robert Trent Jones Golf Course at Cornell University in Ithaca.

Winery suggestions: Anthony Road Wine Company (Penn Yan), Bloomer Creek Vineyards (Hector), Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard (Dundee),

As far as possible from the Finger Lakes but still in New York, Long Island’s North Fork region is home to dozens of wineries as well. The golf possibilities increase if you have private club “juice”—Friar’s Head in Baiting Hollow is one of America’s greatest courses and the Hamptons, with the likes of Shinnecock Hills and National Golf Links of America, are not far away either. Even Long Island National Golf Club in Riverhead, which used to be public, is now members-only.

All is not lost, though. Legendary muni Montauk Downs is a bit of a drive, but is revered as one of America’s best affordable public courses for good reason. A little closer to the North fork’s concentration of wineries, Island’s End Country Club is a scenic, pleasant place for a round. If you want a quirky, throwback adventure, the 2,500-yard, nine-hole Shelter Island Country Club, nicknamed “Goat Hill” is a hoot.

Winery suggestions: Bedell Cellars (Cutchogue), Martha Clara Vineyards (Riverhead), Raphael (Peconic)

As for the authenticity and taste of New York wine, we are a little skeptical, but we’ll rely on the adage in vino veritas--"In wine, there is truth"--and invite you to taste for yourself.

Do you have any other golf/wine vacation pairings or winery suggestions in the regions we mentioned? Be sure to let us know in the comments!

Tim Gavrich is a Senior Writer for GolfPass. Follow him on Twitter @TimGavrich and on Instagram @TimGavrich.
Default User Avatar
Commented on

Yup, don't go to Washington, It rains here all the time and our golf courses suck...especially around The Tri-Cities and Walla Walla area, LOL, How else can we keep the rest of the country away? Makes it a whole lot easier to get tee times, and the wineries in the Tri Cities and Yakima area that offer FREE wine tastings (Red Mountain and Rattlesnake Hills viticultural areas especially) don't get too crowded on the weekends!!

Default User Avatar
Commented on

Actually, for my money the best US golf and wine destination is Pinehurst over Labor Day weekend when the resort hosts its annual (26 years, and going strong) international food and wine festival. Wine seminars, tastings, food demos and outstanding golf, it just doesn't get any better than that

Default User Avatar
Commented on

Brought a group of 70 people to Silverado a few years ago, golfers and non-golfers. Everyone had a fabulous time. Johnny Miller and his crew have spruced up the courses to attract the PGA back again. Cant beat the accomodations, price and incredible array of the best restaurants and wineries anywhere.

Default User Avatar
Commented on

Temecula, Ca has some of the best wineries, including South Coast, Wilson Creek, Wein, Faulkner, Calloway and Pulte. They also have some great Golf and inexpensive compared to the $100 Plus resorts. Cross Creek, Redhawk, Temecula Valley Inn, Rancho California GC, and The Journey at Pechanga. Great wines, Great Golf and one hour north of San Diego. It's The best deal in the State.

Default User Avatar
Commented on

You should never recommend Eagle Vines as it's staff is the most unfriendly and never has the I care attitude. Especially their DOG Mike Sterling who never returns phone calls

Commented on

I'm not a wine drinker, but Wine Valley Golf Club in Walla Walla, Washington is a great track, Walla Walla is a fun little town and the local chamber of commerce claims a top 10 rating as a wine destination.

Default User Avatar
Commented on

Wente Vineyards in Livermore, CA (hit it on the way to Napa) - the golf course sits in a secluded...you can see the vineyards on nearly every hole, no houses, a Greg Norman design

Default User Avatar
Commented on

Northern Michigan has several beautiful golf courses, try Arcadia Bluffs and then the wineries in the nearby Leelanau Peninsula.

Commented on

There are now not only prize-winning wineries - several - but also some great golf courses in Nova Scotia. If you throw in our local Moosehead or craft breweries as well as the best lobster in North America - you will have both wonderful food and drink to go with your golf at very reasonable prices , indeed.

Default User Avatar
Commented on

I don't think Michigan and Texas are quite up to snuff in terms of being golf & wine meccas. Truth is, practically every state in the US is doing wine now, but just because you have wineries it doesn't mean they are worth burning an afternoon at them. The last wine tour I went on in the Texas Hill Country was pretty bad, and Michigan hasn't impressed me with anything quite yet either. Yeah, you can visit wineries in both golf destinations, but I'd rather just play 36 a day.

More from the author
2 Min Read
October 26, 2021
Golf courses are adding more different sets of tees in the name of equitable play. Is it getting excessive?
1 Min Read
October 22, 2021
Green grass and low scores forever.
4 Min Read
October 18, 2021
Slight cooling of Pacific Ocean waters increases likelihood of abnormal weather in major golf destinations.
1 Min Read
October 15, 2021
As if golf wasn't already tough enough...
4 Min Read
October 14, 2021
More brands than ever want to help you look good, feel comfortable and spend wisely on your trousers.
4 Min Read
October 14, 2021
Comfort stations have become the new norm at exclusive private clubs like The Summit, which makes its PGA Tour debut this weekend.
12 Images
October 11, 2021
This Albuquerque gem is one of the tournament capitals of collegiate golf.
21 Images
September 30, 2021
This collection of photos sent in by reviewers might be the best we've ever seen.
10 Images
October 26, 2021
The Butterfield Bermuda Championship shines a spotlight on this tiny, charming island.
3 Min Read
October 4, 2021
America's largest golf resort, and one of its smallest, are expanding to enhance the guest experience.
Load More
Now Reading
5 Great U.S. Destinations for Golf and Wine