This Under-the-radar Region Near Zion National Park Is Hiding a Fantastic Wine Trail You've Never Heard Of

Utah's Greater Zion area has 300 miles of hiking trails, four state parks, and a surprisingly cool wine scene.

View of mountain from Chanela vineyard

Courtesy of Chanela

In southwest Utah, Greater Zion's otherworldly landscapes are mesmerizing: rocky canyons contrast against blue sky, cotton-candy stripes swirl across rock formations, and skeletons of burnt trees dot the lava rock landscape. The region claims Zion National Park, four state parks, 300 miles of hiking and biking trails, and the northernmost stand of Joshua Trees in Joshua Tree Natural National Landmark. But it's not just a road trip destination with gobsmacking scenery, it also has a little-known wine trail.

Utah once had a flourishing wine scene, but state temperance laws and conservative religious beliefs made drinking verboten during the 20th century. Today, many of those laws have been repealed, and Utah's wine culture is making a comeback. Winemakers have discovered southern Utah's unique climate (it shares a latitude with southern Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Greece, at an altitude of 4,500 feet above sea level), with its hot days, cool nights, and volcanic soil.

There are five wineries in close proximity to each other (and within an hour of Zion National Park). Stopping at their tasting rooms is a perfect addition to an outdoorsy road trip; you can get a Trail Pass and visit them all. 

Grapes growing at Bold and Delaney vineyard

Courtesy of Bold & Delaney

Bold & Delaney Winery

Bold & Delaney was established in 2014, and grows 11 varietals including petite syrah, pinot noir, grenache, tempranillo, and sauvignon blanc. Tastings and winery tours are available Tuesdays through Saturdays by appointment from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tasting prices start at $20 per person, and the winery also offers lovely charcuterie boards.

Chanela Vineyards

Located 15 miles north of St. George, Chanela (which gets its name from a mashup of the owner's three daughters' names) is the highest-altitude winery in the state. They grow a dozen varietals including chardonnay, pinot grigio, malbec, tempranillo, and petit verdot. Their tasting room is open Tuesday through Saturday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. by appointment only.

I/G Winery

Started in a converted cottage in 2012, I/G Winery helped create the Utah Wine Trail and started the Utah Wine Festival. Using grapes from Washington, Oregon, California, and Utah, I/G offers cabernet sauvignon, alicante, tempranillo, riesling, viognier, and roussanne, plus red and white blends. Their tasting room is open and no reservations are necessary during normal business hours (12 p.m. to 9 p.m. from Tuesday through Saturday, and 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday). Wines are available by the glass, bottle, or flight, with small bites to order, too. A barrel-tasting experience is available by appointment.

Water Canyon Winery

On the border of Utah and Arizona, Hildale is known for its affiliation with the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints, but these days, things are changing: the city has elected its first female mayor and its first non-FLDS city council, the public school has its first football team, and the town has its first winery. Water Canyon produces natural wines made from organic grapes and without sulfites, preservatives, or added yeasts, and the results have earned them numerous awards at the Utah Wine Festival. Varietals include barbera, sangiovese, and tempranillo. Tastings are by appointment only, Wednesday through Sunday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., in their eclectic space.

Zion Vineyards

In Leeds, a mere 15 minutes from St. George, Zion Vineyards produces wines with grenache blanc, petit syrah, cabernet sauvignon, and carignon. They're working on unveiling their new tasting room, where events like barrel tastings will be held. Call ahead to reserve your spot.

View of Water Canyon vineyard surrounded by mountains

Courtesy of Water Canyon Vineyard

Where to Stay in the Greater Zion Area

Cable Mountain Lodge

Part of the appeal of Cable Mountain Lodge in Springdale is its proximity to Zion National Park — the park entrance is literally across a footbridge. Guests are free to use the pool and hot tub, which are open until 11 p.m. and have exclusive access to on-property grills and picnic sites on the banks of the Virgin River. The lodge also has an on-site spa, plus a grocery store, souvenir shop, brew pub, and coffee shop.

Red Mountain Resort

In the hills outside of St. George, Red Mountain Resort is a wellness retreat on 55 acres of desert gardens that back up to Snow Canyon State Park. They offer fitness classes, off-site adventures, including some led by spiritual guides, plus indoor and outdoor pools, a spa, and a full-service restaurant, among other amenities.

Open Sky Zion

Tucked into the rocks, Open Sky Zion features luxe safari-style tents for the ultimate glamping experience. Tents have a full en suite bathroom with a shower and soaking tub (with an International Dark-Sky Association–designated view of the stars), plus an outdoor shower, fire pit, and seating area.

When to Go

The best time to visit southern Utah is in March/April or September/October. Summer is the area's high season, so the shoulder season is less crowded and cooler (daytime temperatures range from the 50s to the 70s, compared to 90s in the summer and 30s in the winter). Plus, in the spring and fall, seasonal businesses that close during the winter months are still open. 

Getting to the Wineries

Leaving Springdale (do yourself a favor and stop for a bite at Camp Outpost Co. before you leave town), take Utah state Route 9 to Hurricane, where you'll either pick up state Highway 59 to Hildale/Colorado City, about a 30-minute drive; or continue on state Route 9 to St. George. There is one winery in St. George, two to the north along Interstate 15 in Leeds and in Cedar City, and one west in Dammeron Valley. The closest airport to fly into is St. George Regional Airport (SGU), which has flights from hubs like Denver, Dallas-Fort Worth, Phoenix, and Salt Lake City.

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