Wine regions are one of the most beautiful destinations. Amazing food, gorgeous vineyards, all-round green nature, and the best wines – what more could a person need to have the perfect vacation?
While wine tasting tours have been around for decades, this type of tourism gained popularity not so long ago. Today, wine cellars and estates are among the most wanted wedding and wellness destinations, with an increased number of visitors each year. If you are planning your next travel adventure, take a look at the world’s most exquisite wine regions to visit and explore.
Discover the iconic Douro Valley in Portugal
Douro Valley will let you explore Portugal’s history through wine estates from the 18th and 19th centuries, still producing some of the most exquisite wines in the world. The wine was first introduced to the Douro Valley during the Roman Empire and it stayed as the strongest point of this region ever since.
Although wine lovers know about this region thanks to the globally-renowned Port, it also produces Vinho Verde — one of the most desired whites. During harvest in September, you can participate in grape stomping and go on olive oil tastings, something else this region is known for. If you want to truly see this valley, go on a river cruise on the River Douro, with full wine and food tasting experience.
Meet Mosel Valley — the home of Riesling
If you ask anyone in Germany what is their most representative wine, they will say Riesling and point you to Mosel Valley. This wine region is one of the steepest in the world, creating challenging conditions for the growers to cultivate and harvest the grapes. The moment you set foot in Mosel Valley, you will feel as though you traveled back in time since the area preserved the same for hundreds of years.
Because of the Roman influence, you will see a lot of historical monuments from this era, like the gate of Porta Nigra and Aula Palatina. Eltz Castle is another historical and architectural landmark from the 12th century, with centuries-old furnishing, weaponry, and silver and gold decorations. There are several quaint villages in the Mosel Valley, like Kobern-Gondorf where you can see a gothic chapel, castles, and have a nice meal at one of the restaurants.
The luxurious flavors of the Napa Valley
When you think about wine in the US, the first thing that comes to mind is the Napa Valley in California. The most recognized wine here is Cabernet Sauvignon, whose taste differs among the vineyards and parts of the Napa Valley. Almost tenth of the whole area is covered in lush winemaking estates, also producing exquisite Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay.
If you are into the arts, you will enjoy shows at the Napa Valley Opera House and the rich artistic scene dominating the area. The Napa Valley Wine Train is an interesting way to visit the wineries and go on a unique tasting tour. The cheese lovers shouldn’t miss the Oxbow Public Market where local farmers sell their products, including some of the best varieties of this dairy product.
Go on the highest wine tour in Mendoza
Argentina’s Mendoza is probably the highest wine region in the world. Situated in the high altitudes of the Andes Mountains, Mendoza produces the finest Malbec, with Tempranillo and Chardonnay not too far behind. No matter which vineyard you visit, you will enjoy the view of the snowy mountains while sipping an excellent wine.
The Grape Harvest Festival in March is the best time to stay here since everyone gathers around to celebrate the beginning of the harvest season. To complete your wine tasting tour, stop by the Museo Nacional del Vino to learn more about the winemaking history of this Argentinian region. If you are ready for some extreme adventure, the highest peak in South America is only two hours’ drive away. It takes three weeks to reach the top, hiking and climbing the icy slopes.
Discover the flavors of Australia in Hunter Valley
Hunter Valley is the first wine region in Australia dating back to the 19th century. Chardonnay, Shiraz, and Semillon are the most representative wines of this region. People from all over the world book the amazing Hunter Valley accommodation and spend days exploring cellars, estates, and restaurants.
Besides full-flavored reds and whites, the visitors can also taste liqueurs, vodka and other spirited beverages made in a distillery in Pokolbin. Since the region is full of local chocolate factories, there are also organized tasting tours for this favorite treat. Hiking the Barrington Tops National Park and riding the hot air balloon are something not to miss when discovering Hunter Valley, as well.
Enjoy the spectacular views of the Stellenbosch Winelands
Stellenbosch Winelands is a charming area at the foot of the Stellenbosch Mountain in South Africa. The most famous wine of the region is Pinotage, a cross between Cinsault and Pinot Noir. Its Mediterranean climate is also responsible for magnificent Merlot, Chenin Blanc, and Sauvignon Blanc.
Perhaps equally interesting as the wine is Stellenbosch, the central town of the area full of Dutch architecture. Here you can grab lunch at one of its many cafés and restaurants before you go to explore the nature of the surrounding area. The best way to combine wine touring with sightseeing is by riding a bike through the green fields around the Stellenbosch. If you are into hiking, this wine region offers guided trekking tours of the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve, both magnificent in summer and winter.
Wine lover’s paradise of La Rioja in Spain
La Rioja is the most famous wine region in Spain offering more than tasting gorgeous whites and reds. The area has lots of small towns, cathedrals, and castles that will have you exploring its wonders for days. The most recognized wines of the region are reds made from Mazuelo, Garnacha, Graciano, and Tempranillo grapes, like La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva and Baron de Chirel.
In June, you can join the Haro Wine Festival, a full-blown celebration of winemaking with the battle of wine when everyone pours red wine over each other as a tradition. When in La Rioja, make sure to stop by the city of Bilbao to see the Guggenheim Museum and try Basque cuisine. If you want to explore the region on foot, take the Camino de Santiago and join the pilgrimage originating from the 9th century. It leads to Santiago de Compostela, a burial town of St James the Apostle.
Discover the nature of Sonoma Valley
While Napa Valley tends to still have all the fame, California has other great wine regions, considering the state makes up for 40% of wine production in the US. Sonoma Valley is one of those destinations that not only offers delicious Pinot Noir, Cabernet, and Syrah but also beautiful scenery. This location is close to San Francisco, making it a perfect day trip or a weekend stay over if you are in town.
Sonoma city is the center of this winemaking region, full of historic buildings, art galleries, and an excellent farmer’s market. The area also hosts numerous festivals and events promoting the wines, local farmers, breweries, and astounding cuisine. There is a wildlife sanctuary called Safari West occupying 400-acres of land, perfect for family vacations. If you want to feel the nature of the Sonoma Valley, enjoy a hike in the Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve in Guerneville. This is also a magnificent campsite where you can have a peaceful evening with a glass of local wine and sounds of the waterfalls.
In the end
When it comes to these exquisite wine regions, it doesn’t matter much if you like this beverage or not. The beauties, tastes, and experience they offer to visitors, surpass your love (or dislike) for this often dubbed nectar of the gods. Lavishly green valleys, delicious cheeses, and abundance of history make these wine regions ideal destinations to escape the cities and relax. Pair that with a glass or two of full-blooded red or fragrant white, and you will have a truly authentic adventure in these parts of the world.