I love any opportunity to visit wine regions on my travels. Visiting a few wineries always makes for a great day out with friends and I love stopping at the cellar doors for some free tastings. You don’t have to know your Sauvignon Blanc from your Chardonnay to enjoy yourself as it’s always a fun experience and the scenery is usually very beautiful. To save you worrying about who’s going to be the designated driver, I recommend booking a hotel for the night or taking an organised tour!
Here are some of the best places for wine tasting on your travels:
This 30-mile long region is flanked by mountain ranges, offering breathtaking views wherever you look. Napa Valley is one of the world’s top wine producing regions, with hundreds of wineries that grow grape varieties such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Merlot. In addition to wineries there are also spas, restaurants and quaint bed and breakfasts you can stay at.
La Rioja, Spain
Spain’s most famous wine region, La Rioja, produces an array of red, rose and white wines that are sold throughout the world. The region is located in the north of Spain and the wineries are accessible by day tour from the coastal towns of San Sebastian or Bilbao. Try the Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva, which all vary in age and taste.
And if you can’t make it to Spain, at least you can make a trip to the local supermarket and sip some Rioja at home!
If you’re a lover of sweet port wine like me, then you should visit the Douro Valley near Porto in Portugal. Forget the usual whites and reds and spend your day tasting various vintage Ports and fortifieds instead! Wine has been produced in the area around the Duoro River for 2,000 years and the region has been granted UNESCO World Heritage status.
Bordeaux is the largest and most prestigious wine growing area in France; it has a total vineyard area of over 115,000 hectares and produces around 800 million bottles of wine a year! There are numerous tours and activities you can do in Bordeaux, including chateaux tours, wine tastings and cooking classes. If you really want to become a wine connoisseur then there are numerous classes you can take to help you become an expert!
The Barossa, South Australia
The Barossa Valley is a wine region in South Australia and is home to some big wineries such as Jacobs Creek, Wolf Blass and Penfolds, as well as some smaller boutique wineries. I have visited the Barossa twice; the first time I stayed overnight and took a trike tour of the region, which was a novel and fun way to see the scenery with the wind in my hair! I had lunch and tasted wine at Jacobs Creek, and I also had the opportunity to make my own wine at Penfolds. The second time I took a Groovy Grape bus tour from Adelaide and I thoroughly enjoyed it. We stopped at the Giant Rocking Horse, visited numerous wineries and had a BBQ lunch!
Maipo Valley, Chile
If you’re traveling South America then make a stop in Maipo Valley, Chile; a region that produces some quality red wines including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir. Take a bus tour, or if you like, you can visit the wineries independently via the metro system from Santiago. Top wineries to visit include Aquitania, Concha y Toro, Cousino-Macul, De Martino, Undurraga and Vina Santa Rita.
Tuscany in central Italy produces some notable wines including Chianti (a favourite of Hannibal Lecter!), Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Vernaccia di San Gimignano. Stay in Florence where you can gaze at the Ponte Vecchio, see Michelangelo’s David and eat gelato in Piazza della Signoria, then take a bus trip to the Tuscan wine region for a day of wine tasting.