Valentine’s Day beckons, and if you haven’t made your reservations for a romantic evening (or even if you have), perhaps you could surprise your sweetie with a fully planned getaway later in the year. We have four ideas, all with wine as a central theme (naturally!) We’ll share two today and two tomorrow.
WESTERN NEW YORK
Located near one of America’s most romantic destinations, Niagara Falls, Spring Lake Winery is one of the must-see wine estates along the Niagara Wine Trail. Private outdoor tastings are available alongside a spring-fed lake, and Riesling is the specialty of the house.
While visiting the winery provides a romantic interlude, just getting there can be half the fun. A 1940s-era train can be boarded in Lockport, N.Y., and two-and-a-half hours later, you’ll arrive at the winery for a tasting and live music. En route, you’ll stop at and tour the Medina Railroad Museum.
Tickets cost $125 per couple. For $100 more, a VIP package provides preferred seating on the train’s dinner car, a wine-and-cheese plate, and an open bar.
This part of Michigan, an easy drive from Chicago, is home to more than a dozen wineries, some of which feature restaurants.
The best known — in part because of its ubiquitous billboards — is Tabor Hill Winery in Buchanan, where wine lovers can sample locally made vintages in an elegant setting.
There’s a small theater that continuously shows a winemaking video, and visitors may also take a walking tour along the vineyard. Excellent food and wine pairings can be enjoyed at either lunch or dinner at the winery’s acclaimed, not to mention romantic, restaurant.
A good home base for a weekend wine getaway is the South Cliff Inn in St. Joseph, where innkeeper Bill Swisher delights guests each morning with several types of fresh-baked coffee cakes, fresh fruits and custom-blended coffee. The inn sits atop a hill overlooking Lake Michigan, and the sunsets are spectacular.
Speaking of sunsets, for an even more romantic experience, attend the annual Smooth Jazz at Sunset concert, held in an amphitheater on nearby Silver Beach. In 2016, the concert will take place on July 9, and the artist will be announced in March.
• Tomorrow: Romantic winery destinations in Washington state and Northern California.