If you are a wine-lover and an avid traveler, a vineyard vacation may be perfect for you. Sit back and relax in a peaceful location surrounded by greenery and take a wine tasting or open a bottle of fine wine while you watch the sunset. If that sounds like your idea of bliss, here are ten destinations you should put on your bucket list.
Douro Valley, Portugal
Famed for its fortified wines, Douro produces just as much table wine which ranges from light to heavy, making it a great place to visit for trying something out of your comfort zone while knowing you can fall-back to your trusty favorites too. Wine from this region has Portugal’s highest classification, the DOC. A selection of luxury hotels has now opened up in the valley along with superb restaurants all with extensive wine lists of course. Take a tour of the warehouses or a boat trip along the river and stop for a night in the city of Porto before flying home.
Wines from Burgundy come in both red and white with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes being grown in the area. Not only is the wine delicious but the scenery is with the trip alone. Since Burgundy is a large region, wine-lovers should spend a few days in different locations to experience as much as possible. The commune of Semur-en-Auxois looks like something from a postcard and feels quintessentially French, while Beaujolais is 30 minutes outside of Lyon and is famous for its distinctive light red wines.
Producing 17% of Italy’s wines from areas of which 25 have been awarded DOC, Puglia is arguably the best wine-growing region to visit in the country. Primitivo and Negroamaro grapes are the most famous varieties grown here, used in the production of red wine. White wine-lovers will also be thrilled to know that while the region largely produces reds, local grapes, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are also beginning to gain a reputation of excellence. Not only is Puglia a great destination to visit for wine, but it is regarded as one of the best regions for Italian cuisine too. It is also known to have some of Italy’s best beaches – could you really ask for more?
Malborough, New Zealand
Sauvignon Blanc is the most famed grape from Malborough, with its wine being recognized globally for its quality. And although wine-lovers may come for the drink, you will most certainly stay for the landscapes. Stroll through endless vineyards, cycle through the hills and valleys or take a kayak through the water. Beach camping and wildlife spotting among many other activities make Malborough perfect for both family vacations and romantic getaways.
Saint Emilion, France
The village of Saint Emilion is situated in the area of Gironde, France and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Noted for their red wines, the vineyards of Saint Emilion boast the perfect microclimate for wine growing which has been produced here since 1199, creating a world-famous reputation. If you are also looking for some architecture on your trip, the historical landscape of the city has remained in perfect condition since it was built and has various hidden gems waiting to be discovered beneath its buildings.
Perfect for those who prefer the big city life but enjoy a quiet escape to the country every now and again. The city of Mendoza has a vibrant, ever-growing gastronomic scene and countless options for partying into the early hours. With hills and a mountain range flanking one side of the city there are a number of great hiking trails to burn off the extra calories, but let’s be honest, the main reason you travel to Mendoza is for the wine. Using the city as your accommodation base, take a trip to the South or East where the vineyards lie. Small-production 100% Argentian owned wineries are the best ones to visit here.
Alsace is the French region that borders Germany and Switzerland and has had a mix of control from both France and Germany over time, meaning both countries have influenced the culture. Known for producing typically sweet wines, Dry Reisling and sparkling wines made in this region are now growing in popularity and Alsacian Grand Cru wines are becoming known for offering some of the best value in France, making for an exciting visit for all wine-lovers. Visit the vineyards as part of your tour of the many beautiful towns and cities in this culturally unique region.
If rosé wines are your go-to drink then Provence should be your go-to destination. This wine-region in the south-east of France is home to grand chateau’s, luxury hotels and picturesque landscapes as well as quaint village bistros and b&bs. Whilst there are countless wineries to stop at on your trail, be sure to visit Chateau d’Esclans, the producer whose Whispering Angel wine is said to have started the global pink wine trend and has quickly become the benchmark of rosé wine.
La Rioja, Spain
A province in northern Spain, La Rioja is known for its Rioja wines as the name suggests. Off the beaten track, this wine producing area of Spain only has a small number of tourists visiting compared with the rest of the country, so if you enjoy mingling with the locals, the medieval villages surrounded by vineyards are the place to be. The food here has won the region awards for the best food in Spain and it goes all down nicely with a glass of local red wine. Wineries vary from ultra-modern to traditional, giving visitors the best of both worlds. Visit in June for the Batalla del Vino which is essentially the wine-throwing version of La Tomatina.
While it doesn’t produce your classic red, white or rosé table wines, Fushimi in Kyoto, Tokyo is renowned for its sake brewing and offers an alternative destination for wine-lovers. The rice wine made here is known globally and is served alongside traditional Kyoto cuisine. Visit the Fushimi-Inari-Taisha Shrine which is dedicated to the god of rice and take a cruise in one of the flat-bottomed boats that were originally used in sake production. There is also a sake museum where you can learn in detail about the production methods used to make this Japanese wine.