When we started this blog, we didn’t know much about wine. In fact, we didn’t even drink much wine, let alone plan our travels around trying different wines! However, as we learned more about wine and started traveling more, wine became a focal point of our travels. Wherever we go, we make an effort to try local wine. And, as a result, we’ve tried some of the best wines of the world (in our opinion, at least!) and visited some of the most intriguing wine regions.
Our goal is to visit as many wine regions around the world as possible. From the famous ones (Napa Valley; Bordeaux) to the lesser known (South Moravia), we want to experience them all. Until then, though, we’re living vicariously through other wine lovers. To celebrate the wine regions of the world and the best wine regions to visit, we’ve asked other wine lovers to submit their favorite wine regions. This massive list of incredible wine regions around the world is the result!
The Best Wine Regions to Visit Around the World
Grab a glass of wine, sit down, and start planning your future wine travels. We have no doubt this list of wine regions to visit will leave you with plenty of travel inspiration. If you need more, though, check out our list of wine Instagrammers you need to follow!
The Best Wine Regions in North America
Napa Valley, California, USA
Katherine (Two Traveling Texans) shares her favorite winery in California’s Napa Valley:
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!
Santa Ynez, California, USA
Sherianne (Out of Office Blog) paints a stunning picture of the many towns that make up Califorina’s Santa Ynez Valley:
The movie Sideways was released in 2004 and the world was introduced to the Santa Ynez Valley and Foxen Canyon Wine Trail. Santa Ynez is 45 minutes north of Santa Barbara on California’s central coast. There are over 80 vineyards in the valley producing one million cases of wine each year. You will find 13 wineries and tasting rooms along the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail serving Riesling, Pinot Noir, Cabernet, Syrah and Merlot. This is a great Southern California getaway offering a variety of things to do.
Go wine tasting and boutique shopping in the town of Los Olivos. Stop by the lavender farm for a souvenir or Quicksilver Ranch to visit the miniature horses before arriving in Solvang. Solvang is a cute Danish town with many shopping opportunities and several tasting rooms. Lompoc is known for its flower fields, wine ghetto and the town’s Friday night BBQ. Buellton is the home of split pea soup and also has tasting rooms to visit. Be sure to spend time on the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail and enjoy a glass of Pinot Noir at the Foxen Vineyard and Winery Shack. There are many farm to table establishments throughout the valley. If you enjoy wine and are in Southern California, Santa Ynez Valley is a must visit.
Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA
Lori (Travlin Mad) shares her favorite wineries in the Tualatin Valley, part of Oregon’s Willamette Valley wine region:
Oregon’s Willamette (will-AM-it) Valley in the Pacific Northwest is known as one of America’s top wine-producing regions, stretching over 100 miles long and 60 miles at its widest point. With over 550 wineries producing wine from nearly 22,000 vineyard acres planted, it can be an overwhelming place to visit. But the northernmost region of Willamette, just 30 minutes from Portland, known as the Tualatin Valley is producing world-class Pinot Noir. Perhaps it’s because the northern end of the enormous Willamette Valley had the majority of the mineral-rich loess soil deposited there during the Ice Age Missoula Flood. Whatever the reason, the Tualatin Valley (too-AHH-la-tin) is lush and fertile, and it’s easy to navigate winery visits and tastings on your own.
Our favorite must-visit wineries include Montinore Estate (try their Orange wine), Ponzi Vineyards, Ruby Vineyards, Cooper Mountain, and Apolloni Vineyards, who craft their Pinot Noir in an Italian style. Wine enthusiasts will also appreciate another authentic style of wine being produced here. Saké One is crafting premier rice wine in the Japanese tradition, and a tour and tasting is interesting and fun. All of these wineries have beautifully-appointed tasting rooms, some which beg you to spend hours with friends tasting wine, playing bocce, or just soaking in the amazing views!
Hill Country, Texas, USA
Thoughts from Stella (Travelerette) on her visit to Sister Creek Vineyards in Texas:
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.
Loudoun County, Virginia, USA
We regularly share experiences from wineries in Loudoun County, but want to highlight one of our absolute favorites, Bluemont Vineyard:
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 one of our favourites.
Creston Valley, British Columbia, Canada
Kristal (Adventure Dawgs) loves the Creston Valley, the lesser known BC wine region:
While the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia gets all the attention, move a little farther east and you’ll find the Creston Valley. I stumbled across the town of Creston by accident as I was looking for a quiet place to spend a few days while I drove through the Rocky Mountains. The fertile valley has a mild climate that nurtures an abundance of farms and is home to three wineries where award-winning cool climate wines are being produced.
Baillie Grohman Estate Winery and Skimmerhorn Winery and Vineyard are conveniently located next to each other, allowing guests to experience two very different wineries. A short distance away to the north on Duck Lake, you will find the latest winery to open in the Creston Valley, Wynnwood Cellars.
A visit to this emerging wine region is not complete without stopping to sample the Pinot Noir, Gewürztraminer, and Chardonnay wines and take the opportunity to taste the difference between the varieties produced in such a small area. Once you’ve had your fill of wine, take some time to wander the vineyards and enjoy the view of this hidden gem.
Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada
Charles and Micki (The Barefoot Nomad) recommend the Okanagan Valley, which include Kelowna, BC:
The Okanagan Valley, in British Columbia’s southern interior, boasts not only the warmest areas in Canada, but also some of the countries best wineries and orchards. With over 200 wineries producing everything from sun drenched red Merlots, Cabernet Sauvignons, Pinot Noirs and Syrahs to award winning whites of Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer and Rieslings, there’s something for every wine lover in the valley including some of the best ice wine you’ll find anywhere in the world.
Spanning nearly 250 kilometers, the mountainous Okanagan Valley is comprised of gorgeous lakes with plenty of sandy beaches, tons of heat and sun in the summer and incredible weather (for Canada) year round. Comprising the major cities of Kelowna, Penticton, Vernon and Osoyoos, there’s always something to do in the valley including amazing skiing in the winter months and tons of water activities in the many warm lakes in the summer. To buck the trend we’re going to highlight a fantastic Rosé wine for those who prefer something not too sweet or something too bitter. The Quail’s Gate Lucy’s Block Rosé is a fantastic Rosé that has not only won numerous awards, but also comes from a very pretty winery on the slopes looking over Okanagan Lake.
Just a stones throw from Quail’s Gate is also our favorite winery to visit in the region, Mission Hill Family Estate, with not only some of the prettiest views, but some gorgeous architecture high on a hill overlooking the lake and valley.
Grey County, Ontario, Canada
Ayngelina (Bacon is Magic) loves the Saints and Sinners trail in Grey County, Ontario:
Canada is home to fantastic wine. The Niagara region is often cited as the best spot for a weekend getaway from Toronto. However, heading north to Grey County means you don’t have any of the crowds of Niagara and often have an opportunity to actually meet the winemakers. Grey County is home to the Saints and Sinners trail, which features local craft beer, cider and wine. It’s perfect for a group that wants to explore a variety. The region was the last in Canada to end prohibition and now it flourishes with fantastic producers.
There are fantastic rosé, white and light red wines. Some great wineries include Coffin Ridge, Georgian Hills and my favourite, The Roost Wine Company, which experiments with varieties like L’Acadie Blanc, Frontenac Blanc and lesser known German grapes.
The vibe in Grey County is very relaxed and there are lots of locals who visit the wineries, bringing their family for an afternoon out. It’s one of the best kept secrets in Canada.
Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
Lyssie (She Went to Spain) shares her experience tasting ice wine in Niagara Falls, Canada:
About 20 minutes north of Niagara Falls in Canada, you’ll find the region’s top wineries specializing in ice wine. Ice wine 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-peeling the grapes, these ice wines are fairly expensive, ranging from C$54 to C$91 for a 375mL bottle. All of the wineries sample and sell ice wine. Peller Estates Winery has an ice bar in the basement. What better way to try Canada’s ice wine than in an ice bar?!
Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico
Chris (Explore Now or Never) shares her experience visiting wineries in Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico:
Wine tasting in Valle de Guadalupe—just two hours south of San Diego—is an experience like nowhere else in the world. You might be a little unsure at first, as you drive the bumpy dirt roads in search of wineries that seem like they’re in the middle of nowhere. Until you round a corner that opens onto a manmade lake with a sleek modern winery… guests dressed to the nines. Or one with a folksy, friendly “Old Mexico” vibe. The personalities of wineries in the Valle are as diverse as you can imagine. It’s not your average tasting experience!
The Best Wine Regions in South America
Erin (Sol Salute) shares a lesser known wine region – Cafayate, Argentina:
Argentina is famous for its wine, everyone has had a glass of Malbec from Mendoza. What’s not as well-known however, is that the South American country is actually home to multiple wine regions. One of these is Cafayate, Argentina, Mendoza’s little brother in the northern province of Salta.
Cafayate may be less famous but its wines are no less delicious. This region is famous for its Torrontes, a crisp white varietal. Torrontes is the only varietal that is native to Argentina, so a trip to Cafayate is more than justified. The wineries here are easy to visit with some being conveniently located downtown, others are only a bike ride away. Tours are either free or affordable. If you want to explore even further, rent a car and drive to the quaint town of Cachi. There are a few wineries along this desert drive and even more surrounding Cachi itself. This area of Argentina is a wonderful destination year-round, so don’t think twice about booking your next wine vacation here!
Thoughts from Chloe (Wanderlust Chloe) on her visit to Mendoza:
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 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!
Maipo Valley, Chile
Thoughts from Sarah and Kris (Jetsetting Fools) on their visit to the Maipo Valley in 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.
Serra Gaucha, Brazil
Kacy (Bad Sentences) recommends wine tasting in Brazil:
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 almost 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.
The Best Wine Regions in Europe
Megan (Absolute Armenia) shares her experience wine tasting in Areni, in Armenia’s Vayots Dzor province:
My favorite wine region in the world is actually in the small country of Armenia in the Caucasus. Many people don’t realize that Armenia is where the oldest wineries have been found and it is the cradle of wine. While this fact goes unnoticed by many, it definitely doesn’t by me.
The oldest winery was found in the Areni-1 caves in Vayots Dzor province in Armenia and the Areni region is where some of my favorite wines come from. One thing that is really unique to Armenia is that many of the local fruits are infused in the wines, creating a sweeter and more robust flavor than traditional wines in other places. Pomegranate and apricot wine is ubiquitous in the country and is something that is very special and dear to the Armenian people. When driving around Vayots Dzor province, you will find roadside stands serving homemade wine throughout your trip. You can purchase delicious wine for an extremely affordable price. This region is truly a place to visit for wine lovers and I think that it will gain a lot more recognition in the years to come.
Stephanie (Road Unraveled) shares her experience with Croatian wine:
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!
South Moravia, Czech Republic
Liz (Little Holidays) recommends a visit to South Moravia, a unique wine region in the Czech Republic:
When you think of the Czech Republic, two things immediately come to mind: Prague and pilsner. Both have indeed brought hordes of tourists to the country and have made the Czech Republic almost synonymous with beer. But did you know that beyond Prague and the beer breweries in Bohemia, the Czech Republic also has a thriving wine region?
South Moravia is the center of the Czech wine industry. More than 90% of Czech wines are produced here and vineyards dominate the vast agricultural landscape. Despite being relatively unheard-of as a wine region, Moravia actually has a long, proud history of wine-making, beginning in the 2nd century. Today, South Moravians are making some of the world’s best white wines – and the one you should definitely not miss is the Pálava.
This white wine variety was originally cultivated in the Czech Republic by a Moravian winemaker. Müller Thurgau and Gewürztraminer were crossed and then bred to sweet perfection in the foothills of the Pálava biosphere, after which the grape was named. Get a bottle (or two) either from Sedlecká vína or Château Valtice.
While you’re there, enjoy the region’s bike trails through vineyards and rows of wine cellars, and hiking trails that bring you through castle ruins and stunning viewpoints.
Anisa (Two Traveling Texans) visited Alsace, which is easily accessible from both Colmar and Strasbourg:
Alsace is the Germanic region of France located between the Rhine River and the Vosges mountains. If you like white wines that are aromatic, floral and spicy, then you will love this wine region. Along with Austria and Germany, it produces some of the best dry Rieslings in the world. Alsatian wine makers also make excellent Gewürztraminers, Pinot Gris, and sparkling wines. Some of the most popular wineries in the Alsace are Wolberger, Domaine Horcher, and Hugel et Fils.
If you want to visit the Alsace, you can base yourself in either Colmar or Strasbourg where you can do day tours to the wineries. If you have more time, how about doing The Alsatian Wine Route? It’s a 105-mile journey through the region’s wine producing areas from Marlenheim to Thann. In addition to Colmar, the route also goes through the picturesque towns of Obernai, Riquewihr, Ribeauvillé, Barr, Eguisheim, and Dambach-la-Ville. To fully experience this wine trail, you would probably need at least two weeks!
Thoughts from Cassie (Cass Travels) on her visit to Chateâu La Croizille in France:
The word Bordeaux is practically 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 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.
Pola (Jetting Around) visited France’s famous Champagne region:
The historical Champagne wine region is located in northeastern France, about a 2-hour drive from Paris (100mi/160km). Wine production in the area dates back to the Middle Ages, andonly wines that come from Champagne can use the name, according to European and international laws. In other words, not every bottle of bubbly is champagne. The towns of Épernay and Reims are the region’s commercial hubs – one of them will likely be the first stop on your trip. Mine was Épernay, where I visited two very different wineries.
Moët & Chandon is one of the largest and most renowned Champagne houses. Founded in mid-18th century, it produces 200 million bottles (!) per year. Their cellars are 28km long and store Champagne dating back to 1892. You can book a tour with an English-speaking guide, who will show you around the cellars and tasting rooms.
Champagne Janisson Baradon is a family-run winery, going back five generations. My meeting with one of the co-owners included a visit to the vineyards and a tour of the production facilities. In the downtown tasting room and boutique, I got a crash course on the grapes used in Champagne production.
There are three grape varieties in the region: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Meunier. The Champagne you get will depend on how they are mixed: Blanc de Blanc (100% Chardonnay), Brute Nature (50/50 Pinot Noir and Chardonnay), and Brut Rosé (45% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay, and 15% Meunier). You can’t go wrong.
Thoughts from Sophie (Solo Sophie) on wine tasting experience in Provence:
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.
Alex (Lost With Purpose) visited Georgia’s wine region, Telavi:
When thinking of the small country of Georgia, wine is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. But Georgia has been producing wine for at least 8,000 years, making the country one of the oldest wine regions in the world. Telavi, the largest city in the Kakheti region, is in the heartland of Georgian wine making.
Not only is the area home to some of the best known wineries in Georgia, there are also several monasteries you can visit in the area. Some still host traces of ancient wine-making. It’s possible to find remnants of old clay wine-making vessels, known as kvevri in Georgian, at Ikalto Monastery.
Most importantly, there are several wineries open to visitors close to Telavi city. Shumi Winery offers free tours, and often throws in a free impromptu wine tasting. Formal wine tastings are possible, too, and there is a small onsite museum to give a bit of historical context to the wine region. Shumi Winery is identifiable by its griffin logo, as Georgian mythology states griffins brought wine to the region. The winery is about 8 km east from the city, making for a perfect day trip.
Amanda (Toddling Traveler) recommends a visit to Rheingau in Germany:
Set in the beautiful Rhine Valley along the Rhine River, the Rheingau Region is one of 13 wine regions in Germany. A majority of the wines made in Rheingau are of the Resiling variety; a sweet and crisp white wine. (Note: The riesling in Germany tends to not be as sweet as in the US, which is a good thing for many wine drinkers!)
If you, like many visitors to the area, are visiting Germany for the castles, one winery that needs to be on your list is the Johannisberg Castle. This beautiful castle and vineyard has a wine making history dating back to 1,200 years ago. It was originally a Benedictine monastery and became the first wine estate for Riesling. While you’re enjoying the scenic drive to Johannisberg along the Rhine River, be sure to also visit the nearby Rudesheim am Rhein. This adorable little town is the epitome of a picturesque German town and will complete any trip to the Rheingau Wine Region.
Chianti, Tuscany, Italy
We explored Tuscany’s wine region on a Viator wine tasting tour from Florence, Here we are recapping our favourite stop on the tour:
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.
Katy (Untold Morsels) visited Lombardy, the Italian region famous for sparkling wine:
In a country famed for its red wine varieties, Lombardy offers something a little different. This region of Italy, to the east of Milan on the shores of Lake Garda and Lake Iseo, is home to two unique wine districts that produce outstanding sparkling and white wines.
Franciacorta is Italy’s premium sparkling wine, following the methode champenoise with two fermentations in the barrel. The area is known for its gentle rolling hills and mineral rich soil, perfect conditions for producing excellent wine. Pay a visit to Ca’ del Bosco, a family run estate that prides itself on its innovative wine making practices that aim to reduce the amount of sulphites in the production process.
Close to Laka Garda and the towns of Desenzano and Sirmione, producers cultivate a variety of the Trebbiano grape called “da Lugana” which is used in 90% of the white wine blends. At Selva Capuzza you’ll receive a warm welcome and the opportunity to try their dry white wines. The team is only too happy to discuss the family run estate’s wines produced only with native varieties.
You can take a journey of discovery through both wine districts via wine routes promoted by the local tourist board.
Parteolla, Sardinia, Italy
Claudia (My Adventures Across the World), shares her experience tasting Sardinian wine in Parteolla, near Cagliari:
While everyone knows that Italy is a great wine producing country with some of the best wines in the world, not many foreigners know that the island of Sardinia has some excellent wines. Most people visit to make the most of the beaches and the incredible nature. However, wine tourism is on the rise, and more and more people enjoy off season travel to Sardinia for a chance to visit the vineyards and taste its wine.
There are many good vineyards and wineries in Sardinia. Most of them now offer wine tasting tours. The region of Parteolla, near Cagliari, where the villages of Serdiana and Dolianova are located, has some fabulous wineries such as Argiolas and Pala. There, tourists can visit the many vineyards and wineries and, depending on the season, attend a wine festival – the most famous one is Cantine Aperte, in May.
Among the grapes that are specific of Sardinia there are nuragus, vermentino, bovale, monica, carignano and vernaccia. The best wines to try are the popular Nepente di Oliena, loved by Italian revolutionary Gabriele D’Annunzio, and Turriga, of Cantine Argiolas.
Thoughts from Lynne (Wander Your Way) on her visit to Corte Aleardi in 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.
Mark and Kylee (These Foreign Roads) rave about Moldova wine tourism:
Until recently, Moldova remained relatively unknown in the wine world. For decades, as a Soviet republic, it produced “drinkable” wine in mass quantities for the U.S.S.R., providing over 70% of the Empire’s demands. Following the collapse of the Union, and subsequent Russian embargoes, Moldova turned its attention west.
In order to charm the European palette, production methods had to change. Quality over quantity became the norm – and people noticed.
These days, high-quality Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Noir are produced alongside native Rară Neagră, Fetească Albă and Fetească Neagră. As well as some outstanding sparkling, made in Méthode Champenoise.
Nearly all visitors, wine enthusiast or not, come to Moldova for the wine in one form or another. With the worlds two largest wine cellars, both in massive, limestone caves, how could you not visit this wine region? Boasting over 200 kilometres(!) of subterranean roads, containing over 2 million bottles, Milestii Mici is the largest wine cellar on earth. Coming in second, at 160 km, is Cricova.
It may be the poorest country in Europe, but given the growing wine industry and associated tourism, Moldova won’t be down for long.
Amber (Husband in Tow) shares her love for Alentejo, Portugal, near Lisbon:
Often overshadowed by more popular wine producing countries like France, Italy, and its neighbor to the east, Spain, Portugal produces some of the best wines in the world. Within Portugal, Port Wine from the Douro Valley is arguably the most famous of all Portuguese wine. That said, the Alentejo wine region just east of Lisbon produces outstanding, high quality wines complete with stunning scenery to enjoy them in.
With access to the sea, rolling hills, and a dry climate, the wines of Alentejo represent the region they are produced in. One such producer worth visiting in Alentejo is Ervideira. Located outside the quaint border town of Monsaraz, Ervideira is a family owned and operated winery that produces a full portfolio of red, white, and sparkling wines. Of all the wines produced by Ervideira, their Invisible white is not to be missed. A rare single varietal wine, Invisible is produced from Aragonez grapes. The remainder of their wines, as is common in most of Alentejo are blended red wines, normally produced with a variety of Portuguese grapes. These are strong red wines that pair perfectly with local Portuguese dishes.
Douro Valley, Portugal
Julianna (The Discoveries Of) recommends making a visit to the Douro Valley part of your Portugal itinerary:
The Douro Valley is the best-known wine region in Portugal, and for good reason! There are so many high-quality vineyards there that the only difficulty is choosing which ones you will be able to squeeze in.
Only a few hours away from Porto, it’s easy to include a trip to the Douro Valley on any trip to northern Portugal – and you should. The landscapes are beautiful: a steep terraced valley with the Douro River meandering along its course at the bottom.
The Douro Valley doesn’t just produce wine, either; it’s actually best-known for producing Port. You can visit the vineyards of all of the biggest port producers such as Taylor’s and Sandeman’s.
If you only have time to visit a couple of vineyards, I would highly recommend Quinta do Bomfim – a high-end winery and port producer with one of the most striking old lodges in the Douro Valley. You need to book ahead, but you can take a guided tour of the Quinta to learn about the winemaking process, then have a tasting on their gorgeous open-air terrace afterwards.
Fruška Gora, Serbia
Thoughts from Amy (The Wayfarer’s Book) on her visit to an experimental vineyard in Serbia:
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.
La Rioja, Spain
Justine (Latitude 41) visited Spain’s famous La Rioja region:
One of the most famous wine regions of Spain is La Rioja, a producer of four different styles of wine: Rioja, Crianza, and Reserva, and Gran Reserva. The tempranillo wine grape is grown here, which is an old variety of red grape that turns bright red in autumn. The La Rioja region is in North Central Spain and is 2 hours away from the large city of Bilbao.
Its beauty isn’t only in the rows of grapevines and extensive green land – it’s also dotted with contemporary buildings by modern works of Zaha Hadid and Santiago Calatrava. Some famous wineries with avant-garde architecture are the Marqués de Riscal bodega, undeniably a masterpiece by Frank Gehry, and Ysios, a wavy aluminum and wooden structure designed to look like wine barrels. La Rioja also has more than 600 wineries to choose from. When you visit, it’s also customary for wine tastings to be served with pintxos (or “Basque tapas”). For a more intimate, family-run bodega, check out Bodegas Muga, which also offers hot-air balloon rides in the area.
Thoughts from Carrie (Two Small Potatoes) on her visit to Castillo de Monjardín in Spain:
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.
Thea (Zen Travellers) visited this Spanish wine region while cycling in Penedès:
The Penedès wine and cava region of Spain is a lesser known gem that is a delight to visit. Protected by Montserrat, the fertile area produces a variety of grapes and specializes in cava, the delicious sparkling wine that rivals champagne. Freixenet is one of the oldest and most famous producers in the region and its popular Cordon Negro Cava Brut is exported the around the world. Another great regional producer is Torres, which was founded in 1870 and uses organic methods to produce its award-winning wines.
While there are plenty of scenic drives to do nearby, the best way to experience Penedès is through a cycle tour. You can ride through mountains in the morning, taking a break to tour a winery in the afternoon before finishing your day on the beach. There are separated cycle paths all over the area and some routes even lead you through medieval cobblestone streets. There’s nothing more refreshing than a bottle of cava after a day of cycling!
The Best Wine Regions in Africa
Stellenbosch, South Africa
Thoughts from Heather (Extra Adventure) on her visit to Vergenoegd in 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!
Franschhoek, South Africa
Campbell & Alya (Stingy Nomads) share their thoughts on wine tasting in Franshhoek, South Africa:
Among several wine regions in South Africa, Franschhoek is by far our favorite area in the country. Wine farms around Franschhoek are famous for some of the finest South African wines; the area produces a wide range of wines from light white wines (Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc) to full-bodied reds (Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Pinot Noir and Merlot). The scenery around Franschhoke is breathtaking: endless vineyards surrounded by the mountains and gardens. Some of the tasting rooms offer stunning views over the area.
The best way of getting to know Franschhoek is to spend a couple of days there, staying in one of the cozy or luxury guesthouses in the town. There are many things to do in Franschhoek besides wine tasting (which is obviously the main reason people come here): taking a wine tram and visiting some of the farms; hiking in the Mont Rochelle Nature reserve (there are several short hiking routes) driving over the beautiful Franschhoek pass; doing some chocolate tasting at the Huguenot Chocolate; strolling through Saturday Village market; visiting Franschhoek Motor museum; or, going out at night for a fine dinner at one of the local restaurants.
If you don’t have much time, you can visit Franschhoek as a day trip from Cape Town. There are two ways of doing it: you can rent a car and drive around yourself or join one of the wine tours.
Hemel en Aarde, South Africa
Cal (Once in a Lifetime Journey) shares his experience exploring Hemel en Aarde, South Africa:
Hermanus, about 2 hours from Cape Town, might be the land-based whale watching capital of the world but it’s also the top Pinot Noir and Chardonnay destination in South Africa. The terroir, a cool climate right by the ocean, mimics Burgundy and therefore produces similar wines to the famed French region. The wine route just above Hermanus is known as the Hemel en Aarde (Heaven and Earth) and once you’ve driven along the winding path you’ll know exactly why. The scenery is stunning with tall mountains that hug the green crevices below.
If you visit the Hemel en Aarde, you must try the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Bouchard Finlayson, Hamilton Russel and Newton Johnson. Creation is great for some fine dining, Whalehaven for a chocolate pairing (which are the same owners as Idiom wines), and Bosman for a bit of glamping. One surprise that stands out from the crowd of Pinot and Chard is Bartho Eksteen, known as the father of Sauvignon Blanc in South Africa. Bartho is a lively character who is a master of the white grape. He is a member of the prestigious Cape Winemakers Guild (CWG) and creates an amazingly fruit-forward Sauvignon Blanc. His sommelier wife and winemaker son are also extremely welcoming. Do not leave without tasting his bubbly.
The Best Wine Regions in Asia
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 Winery 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!
The Best Wine Regions in Australia & New Zealand
Barossa Valley, Australia
Josie (Josie Wanders) recommends a visit to Barossa Valley, Australia for wine tasting & more:
Adelaide, South Australia, is one of the ten Wine Capitals of the World. It has three of the state’s best wine regions within one hour of the city centre, and of them, the Barossa Valley is the pick of the crop. Located north of the city, it’s perfect for a day trip or, even better, a leisurely few days exploring the vineyards.
The Barossa Valley is home to many big, internationally known wine brands, such as Jacob’s Creek, Wolf Blass and Penfolds. But even better are the boutique wineries. Some, such as Rockford, still make wines the traditional way, with old style presses and ancient barrels. Others are innovative, trying new methods all the time, such as Pindarie Wines, Rasa Wines, and the strangely named, Yetti & The Kokonut. You will also find the oldest Shiraz vines in the world still producing wine at Langmeil Winery, and the wine is very good. Call in and ask to taste their Freedom 1843 Shiraz.
With over 80 cellar doors to visit in the Barossa Valley, there will be no shortage of choice during your visit.
Bellarine Peninsula, Australia
Audrey (See Geelong) lives near the wine regions of the Bellarine Peninsula, Australia:
Our hometown Geelong is known as the gateway to the Bellarine Peninsula. We’re lucky to live in such a great location, as The Bellarine is one of Victoria’s best kept secrets.
Dotted along the Peninsula are boutique wineries producing award winning cool climate wines. It’s a relatively young district when compared to other wine regions in Australia, but it hasn’t stopped the accolades from rolling in. Each vineyard has its own distinct growing environment that’s often compared to France’s Burgundy or Bordeaux.
The Bellarine is a truly breathtaking destination with stunning sea views, beautiful farmlands and the gorgeous Australian countryside. We love nothing more than taking a scenic drive to our favourite winery – Jack Rabbit. Where we sprawl on the lush green lawn with a Pinot Grigio in hand and soak in the panoramic views.
Hunter Valley, Australia
Courtney (Jet Set Brunette) shares about her visit to 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!
Margaret River, Western Australia
Marianne (Mum on the Move) recommends Margaret River, Western Australia:
Margaret River in Western Australia is one of the best quality wine regions in Australia. Although the region produces just 3% of Australia’s wine, that results in around 20% of its premium wine production, meaning you know you are looking at a lot of high quality wine here.
With a similar climate to Bordeaux in France, Margaret River wineries particularly focus on Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and of course its famous Chardonnays. There are over 200 wineries here and although it is particularly notable for its small boutique wineries, some of the more renowned ones include Cape Mentelle, Voyager, Vasse Felix and Leeuwin Estate. Most of the Margaret River wineries have friendly cellar doors open to the public for tastings and many of them also have amazing restaurants for lunch too.
Although Margaret River has made its name through its wine, beyond the wineries, the area is beautiful. It has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, plus a network of show caves to explore.
Southern Highlands, New South Wales, Australia
Warren (Sling Adventures) recommends a Southern Highlands Wine Tour:
The Southern Highlands in New South Wales is a relative newcomer to ‘vino tourism’ in Australia. Yet it boasts some of the best conditions for producing cool climate wines. Think Chardonnay, Pino Gris and Pinot Noir. Wineries are scattered all over this wide rural region but tend to be centred around the town of Berrima. Must-visit wineries include Bendooley Estate, Tertini Wines and Centennial Vineyards.
The Southern highlands is also a foodie paradise. Pioneers in paddock to plate and other sustainable food philosophies abound. Mount Ashby Estate for example lets you sample fine French cuisine in an authentic French farmhouse in front of a crackling fire with a glass of their top shelf Shiraz.
Access to the Southern he Southern Highlands is easy, being just over an hour from Sydney by car or train. So it’s very easy to get your nose inside a glass or two of some very fine vino.
Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia
Dave (Jones Around the World) shares his experience in the Yarra Valley, close to Melbourne, Australia:
I’ve never been a big connoisseur of wine…that is, until I visited the Yarra Valley in Australia last year. Have you ever had one of those perfect travel days? Where everything just seems to go completely smoothly, and you’re completely enamored by a new destination. That’s what I felt like for an entire day as we drove around different wineries, and had private wine tastings with some top-notch wine experts!
From sampling a dozen wines in the elegant tasting room at Oakridge, trying the best wine I’ve ever had at the main cellar of Levantine Hill, and getting a full wine experience at Giant Steps Cellar Door – it was simply an intoxicating yet memorable day. If you’re in the area as well, I’d highly recommend making a quick stop at Four Pillars Gin Distillery for a quick 10-minute tasting, because it will definitely change your entire opinion of ordering a classic gin & tonic!
The Yarra Valley is less than a two-hour drive from the Victorian Capital of Melbourne, and should be considered a must-do for anyone visiting the state! Trust me – you will not regret it!
Waiheke Island, New Zealand
Thoughts from Tara (Read to Travel) on her visit to Waiheke, 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 best grape growing years.
Map of the best wine regions to visit in the world!
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!
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This post was updated March 2019.