Wine Lovers Unite! The World’s Best Wine Regions To Visit
Travel doesn’t have to be about ticking off famous landmarks. It can be about adventure, culture, religion, food or – in this case – wine. While some travellers seek out turquoise seas or bustling cities, others long for the rolling hills of vineyards and valleys. If you like your holiday memories to go hand in hand with a good glass of your favourite vino, you’ll want to make sure you visit these wine regions. Not only is the wine excellent, but we’ve handpicked regions which are beautiful to visit and which offer travellers a getaway worthy of the history books. Start packing your bags, and remember to do some reading up on merlot vs cabernet.
Narrowly beating out Champagne as our top wine region pick in France, Bordeaux is of course, well-known for its stellar red blends. Unlike at South African vineyards, most wineries in Bordeaux work on a private basis and reserve you a time slot: so if you book a tasting or visit, you get a real one on one experience. Set aside about 90 minutes for a visit! Don’t go in January, or in the first week of April – January is when the winemaking happens, and the landscapes are a bit bare. In April, most wineries are choc-a-bloc with wine tastings within the industry, and don’t accommodate tourists. If you go in summer though, you’ll be treated to glorious, long summer days where you can admire the chateauxs and sprawling vineyards of the region.
Barossa Valley, Australia
They might not no how to play rugby, but the folks down under certainly know how to produce some good wines. Though there are wine regions spread out across Australia from Perth to Victoria, the Barossa Valley in South Australia is one of the most picturesque of them all and produces some of the best wines. You have all the beauty of the expansive farmlands, as well as a warm climate and great wines. Most of the wineries offer tastings as well as snacks, platters and light meals so are great for nibbling on as you sip your wine. Try out Maggie Beer’s restaurant; she is one of Australia’s most revered and loved cooks and serves honest, farm to table style dining.
You can easily reach the valley from Adelaide in about an hour, or you can stay in the valley itself – but if you do, then hire a car. It gives you far more flexibility than using pre-organised tours, and you can linger at the wineries you really love. We’d recommend you visit Artisans of Barossa, Seppeltsfield Winery, Pindaries Winery and perhaps Jacobs Creek to get a great ‘taster’ (excuse the pun!) of the region and its wines.
America never strikes you as the obvious place for wine to be produced, but the sunshine state produces not only world-class wines but also world-class food. In fact, if California was a country of its own it would still be the fourth-largest wine producing “country” in the world. Rather than trying to do the whole of the California’s wine areas (it’s nearly as big as France) concentrate your attention on one area – Napa and Sonoma are some of the best and perfect for first-timers.
There’s local fruit farms, cheese farms and fresh produce stalls at every corner, and the wine competes with the most exclusive wineries in the world. There are beautiful orchards too, and because the area is so vast, there is breathtaking scenery that just never seems to end. Alexander Valley is well worth a visit, being one of the most scenic spots of Sonoma County. Because the region is so large and the climate and geography so varied, you can taste wines of almost all varieties from outstanding merlot to crisp chardonnays.
Cape Winelands, South Africa
The local gems can compete on the world stage in terms of wineries. Whether you pick Stellenbosch or Franschhoek is up to you, but both offer incredible food, world-class wines and stunning valleys and mountains as a backdrop for all of the culinary delights that you can indulge in! Of course, you have to sample as many Pinotage wines as you can, given that it’s a South African specialty – but try and go between October to March when the weather is beautiful and the views aren’t clouded (literally). Favourites for lunch and a wine tasting include Tokara, Clos Malverne, Jordan and Babylonstoren.
La Rioja, Spain
When you book a tasting in La Rioja, it’s important to keep in mind that you’ll normally end up doing a winery tour too – so it isn’t a quick, casual affair. They normally charge too, but it includes the tour and a tasting where they tend to be quite free and easy with the wine. The area is composed of lots of small Spanish towns at their best, so feel free to immerse yourself in it fully. Try and do a mixture of the old, traditional wineries and some of the more modern ones, some big productions and some small family-owned wine farms to get a good feel for the region and remember to pencil in a stop for lunch – tapas, if you want to stay true to Spanish culture.
Remember, whether you want to explore locally with a trip to the Cape or sip wine in Spain, Flight Centre can get you there. Enquire here