Few rural areas can rival the stunning variety of wines that you can get in a big city. "The closer you get to any wine country, even Napa Valley, the less access you have to a very large range of wines," cautions Claude Robbins, president of the International Wine Guild. "I would rather have access to wines from all over the world." International wine-loving retirees may want to consider living in a big city near grape-growing regions such as Seattle or Portland, Ore., which provides access to wines made all over the world in addition to local masterpieces. For beer drinkers, both cities also have a thriving microbrewery industry.
If you do need or want to work during the retirement years, a part-time job in a wine shop or tasting room can be a great way to earn money, meet new people, and keep up with developments in the wine industry. "If you go to most wineries, you're going to find a lot of retirees who are working in tasting rooms," says Robert Richards, a Pennsylvania State University professor and author of the forthcoming book Wine Savvy: The Art of Buying, Pairing, and Sharing American Wine. "They like talking with people, and they're very knowledgeable about wine." Jan King, 69, a retiree in Grand Junction, Colo., works two days a week at the Plum Creek Winery tasting room. "Most of the fun is pouring the wine for visitors from all over the world, and during the quiet times we give tours of the wineries," she says. King enjoys chatting with the visitors about the wine, local attractions, or even about the winery's cat, Silvia. The paycheck gives her some extra spending money to eat out and travel. Working in a winery comes with another valuable perk in many parts of the country: discounts at other wineries and local businesses. "That's how I buy most of my Christmas gifts," says King.
If you can't pick just one swath of wine country to put down your roots, you could spend your retirement traveling them all like Terry Sullivan, 58, a retired middle school teacher. He and his wife, Kathy, say they have visited 365 wineries all over the world, and they chronicle their adventures on their website, winetrailtraveler.com. The 2½-year-old website and blog bring in about $4,000 a year from advertisements, which helps subsidize the approximately 10 days a month the couple spend in various wine regions. "You meet people who care about other people at wineries," says Terry. Plus, "the ambience of being out among the vines is really nice."
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