The world is an incredible place, and there are so many reasons to try and see it all. From experiencing new cultures to trying new foods or ticking a destination off your bucket list, travellers almost always have a reason for travelling, even if they don’t really need one to motivate them. For us, it’s the ability to follow our passions around the world, wherever we may go. We are always looking for little travel “themes” – not excuses to travel but rather deciding factors on where we travel. The most popular themes in our relationship are football (our recent visit to Bratislava), travelling with our dog, celebrating special occasions/holidays (our upcoming Christmas Market/birthday trip to Bruges), and tasting wine in even the most unique wine regions.
Although I have loved wine for years, it is truly something that we started to really get into together. One wine tasting led Sean to appreciate why I like wine so much, and from there it was a mutual passion that still continues to grow deeper. We love trying wine at home, planning our meals around which type of wine we want to have, and splurging on a nice bottle when we are out for a romantic meal. Above all, though, we love discovering the unique wine regions of the world together.
Our travels have allowed us to taste wine in Tuscany, Turkey, Slovakia, and so many other places. We have visited the most touristy of wineries in Chianti, and the lesser known ones in Urla, Turkey. We have returned home with countless bottles of wine and seen the beauty of so many unique vineyards. Our future travel plans include a wine trip to Mendoza and a champagne trip to France. We really, truly, love wine!
Around the World in 18 Wines
Because we want to discover wine regions all over the world – small and large, well-known and secret – we decided to compile a list of 18 wine regions around the world. However, since we have not yet made it around the world, we enlisted the help of fellow bloggers. They share their experience, opinion, and beautiful photos of the wineries they have visited, plus recommendations for must try wines.
1. Napa Valley, California, USA
“Napa Valley has so much to offer – from rich, full-bodied Chardonnays to bold Cabernet Sauvignons. One of my favorite wineries to visit in Napa is Schramsberg. Schramsberg’s magnificent wines have been served at official State functions by every US President since Richard Nixon in 1972. A visit to Schramsberg is great because, not only do you get to learn about its impressive history, but you also get to tour the caves, learn about the wine making process, and sample their delicious wine. Schramsberg is best known for their sparkling wines, but they also have some delicious (yet not overpowering) reds. Of their sparkling wines, I am a huge fan of their brut rosé. Next time you go to Napa, you should definitely include Schramsberg on your itinerary, but make sure to plan ahead – reservations are required!”
2. Hill Country, Texas, USA
“Texas is famous for many things: cattle, US Presidents, the Alamo, and most especially not being messed with. But its beautiful Hill Country is becoming increasingly famous for producing delicious wines. There are currently about 50 wineries in the region, and I was lucky enough to stop at the affordable and tasty Sister Creek Vineyards in Sisterdale, Texas. I strongly recommend their Muscat Canelli, which is their very drinkable award-winning sweet sparkling wine.”
3. Loudoun County, Virginia, USA
You can find Bluemont Vineyard high up on a hill (elevation: 951 ft) looking over the vineyards, countryside, and mountains. It is in the perfect location for an easy day trip from Washington, DC. Upon arrival, you may question if your car is going to make it to the top of the steep entryway, but the views once up there are well worth the panic. Bluemont offers a variety of tastings including a five wine flight of mixed white and red, a three wine flight of all reds, and a three wine flight of all whites. I recommend all three of them (just not at the same time!). We recommend you try the five wine flight if you want to get a taste of Bluemont’s most popular wines. “The Pig”, which is 100% Norton grape (a variety that originates in Virginia!) is our favourite.
“About 20 minutes north of Niagara Falls in Canada, you’ll find the region’s top wineries specializing in icewine. Icewine is a red or white sweet dessert wine made from Canada’s grapes as they freeze and thaw a few times, making them sweet and delicate. This type of wine can only be found in cold climates and Canada specializes in it. Due to the delicate process of hand-picking the wines at their coldest but before they freeze and then hand-peeli
ng the grapes, these icewines are fairly expensive, ranging from C$54 to C$91 for a 375mL bottle. All of the wineries sample and sell icewine. Peller Estates Winery has an icebar in the basement. What better way to try Canada’s icewine than in an ice bar?!”
5. Maipo Valley, Chile
“The long, narrow country of Chile stretches from north to south and boasts many wine regions due to the country’s geographical position between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountains. The Maipo Valley, a well-established wine region, is known for red wines and is where Vina Undurraga produces several award-winning vintages. From their vineyards, we recommend trying the Altazor red blend or any cabernet sauvignon, for which the region is known.”
6. Mendoza, Argentina
“I was really excited to visit the Mendoza region of Argentina as it’s home of my favourite wine – Malbec! While there I took a wine tour of the Uco Valley. It’s a a beautiful place with lush green vineyards and a backdrop of the snow-topped Andes Mountains. The most beautiful winery I visited was Bodegas Salentein which not only had stunning views, but also an impressive amphitheatre in the winery itself, complete with a grand piano! I’d recommend Salentein’s Malbec. It really packed a punch!”
“Brazil may not be one of the world’s most famous wine regions, mainly because it is fairly difficult for tourists to reach, but the wine, food and views in the area are certainly worth the trip. Most of Brazil’s wineries, or vinicolas, are located in the state of Rio Grande do Sol in South Brazil’s Serra Gaucha region, specifically around the city of Bento Goncalves. Wine production in Brazil kicked off in the late 1800s when Italian immigrants settled in the area, bringing with them their knowledge and love of wine. Several Italian varietals are grown in the area, but Brazil is most known for its espumante, or sparkling wine, which you are sure to taste at most any winery you visit.
Brazil’s wine country boasts several large, beautiful wineries including Vinicola Salton and Cave de Pedra, located in a beautiful castle. However, some of the best wine we tasted was at the boutique winery Angheben. This winery has several delicious sweet and dry espumantes, but don’t miss tasting their Barbera with its soft, approachable tannins and balanced acidity. The Barbera is also great for pairing with the excellent Italian food that is popular in the region.”
Europe & Africa
8. Stellenbosch, South Africa
“Vergenoegd means “satisfaction has been achieved” and it may just be true at this wine estate in the Stellenbosch region of South Africa. At this historic Cape Dutch farm, the grounds are gorgeous, and the wines tantalize the tongue. The best part (after the Merlot, of course) is the natural pest control team of Runner Ducks that some of the wines are named for! You can go for a picnic and watch them on parade!”
9. Bordeaux, France
“The word Bordeaux is practially synonymous with wine. It’s one of the best known wine regions and produces some of the best wines found around the world.
There are a number of smaller regions within Bordeaux, but they all have one thing in common, in order to be AOC Bordeaux, they can only be made of six types of grapes: Merlot (60%), Cabernet Sauvignon (25%), Cabernet Franc (15%) and a wee bit of Petit Verdot, Malbec and Carménère (which is a really old grape that is increasingly less common).
It doesn’t hurt that Bordeaux is also outrageously beautiful, home to some of the most stunning vineyards and a handful of UNESCO world heritage sites, like St. Emilion, making for some fantastic wine tours.
Chateâu La Croizille, is one of those such Chateaus. The view from the Chateâu was stellar, as it looked out over the property and all of its neighbours. It was made up of two separate wineries, each with a distinctly different look and feel – one traditional and one very modern – and each made slightly different wines. Definitely be sure to try one from each of them as they have distinctly different tastes. My personal favorite was the St Emilion Grand Cru.”
10. Provence, France
“You can’t go wrong by paying at least a short visit to a winery in Provence; France is the capital of the wine world after all! Provence is one of country’s wine growing capitals, most notably for its’ Rosé varieties. When visiting the region, be sure to stop by one of the area’s many wineries where you’ll not only be able to sample some local ‘vin’, but also take a short self-guided tour of the very vineyards where the grape is grown. Les Vignerons du Mont Saint-Victoire offers such a tour.”
“Spread out beneath the crumbling remains of a hilltop castle, grape vines stripe the red dirt vineyards of the Castillo de Monjardín. It is here in the region of Navarra, Spain that black Tempranillo and red Merlot grapes grow plump and juicy in the intense summer sun. Benefiting from a unique balance of daytime heat and cool mountain breezes, the wines from this valley are unlike any others. Grapes harvested at night are bottled as a fresh and fruity Rosado de Lágrima, or “Pink Teardrop,” my personal favorite.”
Lauren from Savored Journeys knows another great option for wine tasting in Spain.
12. Chianti, Tuscany, Italy
Tuscany reigns as one of the most well-known wine regions in the world. Considering its stunning scenery, world class Chianti wines, and truly delectable food, it is easy to see why!
In fact, it is almost silly to imagine visiting this region in Italy without trying any wine. From small family-run wineries to larger worldwide exporters, the quality is unprecedented and the views are simply breathtaking. La Cantinetta di Rignana was actually the lunch stop on our tour, not one of the wineries we visited. However, they do produce their own wine to serve at the restaurant, so we think it’s worth a visit. They fed us a wine-paired three course meal that was to. die. for. It is one of those meals that we constantly talk about and try to replicate, and the wine portions were very generous. To be honest, we never saw a bottle of wine, so do not know what we tried. However, there was not a single blend that we disliked. So, our advice? Try all the house blends.
13. Valpolicella, Italy
“The Valpolicella wine region is located just outside the city of Verona. Corvina, Rodinella and Molinara are the main grapes grown here. Weird Italian grapes as I like to call them. These are the grapes that make up the Valpolicella wines.
There is the very light, fruity (similar to Beaujolais) Valpolicella. The Valpolicella Superiore will have a bit more body to it as it must be aged for one year, but it’s still a delightfully light wine. The Ripasso is more full-bodied with the grapes being dried for a longer period of time and the wine being aged a bit longer, closer to 18 months. Then there is the grand prize — the Amarone. The grapes are dried to an almost raisin state, then the juice is fermented twice (as is the Ripasso). Amarone then is typically aged from 3-5 years. It is BIG. It is BOLD. I call it a meal in a glass. It’s delicious!
And not only is the wine divine, but the scenery is stunning. This is where you’ll see beautiful valleys surrounded by some low level mountains. Villages such as San Pietro in Cariano, Fumane and San Giorgio di Valpolicella offer wonderful places to eat. You’ll find accommodation scattered about the vineyards. Nothing is better than falling asleep amongst the vines.”
“I knew I would get to try some great wine in Croatia, and the two words that transformed my tasting experience were Plavac Mali. Plavac Mali is Croatia’s primary red wine grape variety; it’s native to the country. The grapes produce a dark, spicy red wine with lots of great cherry and blackberry notes. My favorite winery was Mateo Vicelic, a small family-run spot that served one of the best wines I have ever tried- a deliciously jammy Plavac Mali from the Dingač region. Sipping that wine in a tiny, barrel-lined room made for one of the best tasting experiences I have had in any country, and it confirmed that Croatia is an incredible place to visit for wine lovers!”
“I never expected to be touring a vineyard in Serbia – let alone an experimental vineyard. Nestled in the hills of the Fruška Gora region, the horticulture and viticulture department at University of Novi Sad is re-cultivating the historic wine culture in Serbia and looking towards the future. I learned how they are cultivating a hybrid grape, using American grapes for anti-fungal characteristics, Asia grapes for cold resistance, and European grapes for quality. A tour isn’t complete without a tasting, and I fell deeply in love with a wine from the probus grape, a red wine so vibrant it was almost purple. Wine is about legacy but it’s also about invention, and I left the vineyard completely inspired by the university’s vision for Serbian winemaking.”
Asia & Oceania
16. Urla, Turkey
Turkey is home to an incredible wine region; in fact, rumour is that Turkey is home to many incredible wine regions. The Urla region specifically has a few wineries, each with a unique style. I loved my experience at MMG the most. A wonderful Turkish father-daughter duo runs this winery, which sits on top of a hill. The view consists of the valley, filled with all of the vines that make their incredible wine. The father holds the title of winemaker, and his daughter helps him run the place. They were both present at our tasting, and very chatty about every aspect of their business. This was probably my favorite winery in Turkey because the conversation flowed so easily. The Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend stole my heart. I still constantly find myself thinking about a return trip – just to bring wine back!
17. Waiheke Island, New Zealand
“Many refer to Waiheke Island as New Zealand’s “island of wine” and Man O’ War is Waiheke’s gem. With thirty vineyards residing on the island, Waiheke specializes in its Syrah. Located on the eastern end of the island, Man O’ War’s tasting room faces a cozy green lawn and the ocean, perfect for relaxing with a platter of tasty island goodies and a glass of the Ironclad Cabernet Franc Merlot blend. Make sure to taste the 2013 vintage and, if you’re lucky, at one of the local businesses in Oneroa get a bottle of the 2010 or 2008, as those were the island’s three best grape growing years.”
18. Hunter Valley, Australia
“The Hunter Valley is Australia’s oldest wine region, and is situated just a couple hours drive north of Sydney. There are dozens of great wineries, making it extremely hard to choose just one. So, I’m going to cheat and talk about two! If you were in the Hunter Valley and only had time to visit two wineries, I would suggest spending your time at Audrey Wilkinson and Andrew Thomas Wines.
A visit to Audrey Wilkinson is an experience in itself. The winery has arguably the best view in the whole valley, as it’s situated on top of a sprawling hill, giving it gorgeous views. They also have an extensive wine list, so you’ll be hard pressed not to find one you like! Andrew Thomas only recently opened a cellar door in the Hunter, and I highly recommend you stopping by to taste his wines. If you go, definitely try the Elenay Shiraz and Two of a Kind Semillon Sauvignon Blanc – they are literally among the best wines I’ve ever had! The service is fun and friendly, and you’re guaranteed to walk away some some pretty fantastic wine!”
You can find all of the wines mentioned above on the map below (in blue), as well as a few more of our favourites (in red). We recommend you find the winery closest to you and start your wine adventure today! You can even download this map to your phone to check if there are any wineries near you while you’re traveling. We will update it as we discover more favourites!
With so many unique wine regions consisting of so many unique wineries, where will your next wine adventure begin?
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