Travelling, tasty food and a good glass of wine always go hand in hand on my travels, therefore it is about time to write something about this as well. To be clear, I´m no wine expert so don´t expect a very ? Post, I´m solely writing it for the love towards exploring new places and tasting wine in some of the best wine regions the world has to offer, especially since I´m sure there are lots of people like me. And who knows, maybe you get some ideas for your next trips. So, in this post I´m presenting you my very own personal list of the places (in random order) which are awesome to travel to if you are a wine lover and a passionate traveller. I´ve had the chance to visit some of them, yet others are still patiently waiting to be visited.
DOURO VALELY, Portugal | the oldest protected wine region in the world
Not too far form the beautiful town of Porto in northern Portugal, there lies a wonderful and also THE OLDEST PROTECTED WINE REGION IN THE WORLD, the Douro valley. In fact, its hilly vineyards along Douro river are so special, they have made their way to UNESCO´s World Heritage list and the whole area is one of the best you can visit in the whole country. Besides the world famous PORTO WINE there is a whole bunch of other red and white ones so you have a lot to choose from if you wish to do (you basically have to) a WINE DEGUSTATION. From Porto, you can arrive BY BOAT, the drive is at most scenic, or WITH A RENTED CAR.
I suggest staying in a traditional QUINTA for a couple of nights and visiting some of the local WINERIES and the really nice WINE MUSEUM. For those who are more on the sporty side, it is possible to RENT KAYAKS and go down the river. This is a great destination to prolong your weekend city trip to Porto for example, or a must stop while road tripping Portugal – this is what we did back in 2016 and it was awesome. You can read the full post by clicking the button below.
MENDOZA, Argentina | the largest Argentianian wine region close to teh Andes
The most known and THE LARGEST WINE AREA IN ARGENTINA is located on a spectacular site at the edge of the ANDES which make a stunning backdrop during wine tasting. Besides sipping wine here is so much more you can do in terms of sightseeing and sports activities, you can really come for a week and will not be bored, especially if you are a nature lover. The city of Mendoza and the province of the same name are about a 1000km west from Buenos Aires, close to Chilean border and are world known for its 1500 yo WINE-MAKING TRADITION with the most known grapes being MALBEC. The area is also known to be a great FOODIE DESTINATION so there you go, there really seems to be something for everyone. This area is divided into 2 parts, Maipu, Lujan de Cuyo and Vale de Uco, which are connected with a WINE ROUTE called CAMINOS DE VINO. You can rent bicycles and stop at wineries along the way for example. The best months to visit are OCTOBER and NOVEMEBER and the rest of our winter months when there is summer in South America. You can include Mendoza into your longer trip through Chile and Argentina or fly into Mendoza international airport from many different laces in the continent.
SAINT-EMILION, France | Unesco´s wine region close to Bordeaux
Picking out just one wine are in France is basically mission impossible and it actually deserves its own post so here I´ve decided to present one of the most known parts in BORDEAUX WINE REGION – the beautiful Saint-Emilion, which is also on UNESCO´s World Heritage list and is located next to DORDOGNE RIVER and LIBOURNE city. The most known wines coming from here are MERLOT, CABERNET FRANK and CABERNET SAUVIGNON.
There seems to be a flood of WINE CELLARS in Saint-Emilion so there is enough to keep you busy for days, but the actual countryside is beautiful as well so do take your time for exploring a bit around. It is easy to combine your stay with visiting the city of Bordeaux, either as a weekend getaway or during a longer road trip along the French Atlantic coast. Soon more on the blog about these places as well.
BAROSSA VALLEY, Australia | the oldest Australian wine region
It´s been many years form my visit down to Australia and I was travelling in totally different areas back then so the next time I´ll make sure to visit the west and the south coasts, of course stopping by at AUSTRALIA´S OLDEST AND MOST IMPORTANT WINE REGION, Barossa, conveniently located close to ADELAIDE city. Amongst South Australian wines, SHIRAZ is the most known and it´s the jewel of Barossa valley as well, but we can also find good CABERNET, RIESLING and some more Mediterranean wines. The start of wine making dates back to the middle of the 19th Century when mostly Germans inhabited this area which is nowadays home to over 150 WINERIES and all the other infrastructure needed for a perfect relaxed holiday. The best time to visit are European winter months when there is summer time down under.
MADEIRA, Portugal | one of the most unique islands in the world and the fmaous Madeira wine
This little PORTUGUESE ISLAND in the Atlantic ocean is a true gem and one of the most DIVERSE AND UNIQUE ISLANDS on this planet. Its fauna is simply amazing as the island has a special climate plus it used to be an important stop for sailing ships and boats on the way between Europe and South America. Besides wild beaches, almost tropical forests, high mountains perfect for hiking, lovely villages and great restaurants, there is another thing the island is famous for – the MADEIRA WINE. They have been making it since the 16th Century and it does resemble the Port wine from Douro valley a little bit, yet it is still different and unique.
Madeira wine nowadays is a FORTIFIED WHITE WINE, available in either more sweet or more dry varieties. It is different from other wines due to the unique TERMIC AGING PROCESS, called ESTUFAGEM, which happens in the barrels and makes sure the wine gets a specific taste and becomes basically indestructible at the same time. You can visit Madeira in any time of the year, I suggest you make your base in FUNCHAL, the island´s largest and capital city and rent a car for day trips around the island. We spent 6 amazing days here with my girlfriends a few years ago, you can read the full post by clicking the button below.
MOLDOVA | the largest wine cellar in the world and one of the best hidden gems in Europe
Ever heard of Moldova? It is a very interesting little country stuck between Romania and Ukraine in Eastern Europe. Although it is still pretty much unknown to most of the people, I´m sure many of wine lovers are aware of its existence, since Moldova has a VERY LONG WINE MAKING TRADITION, dating back to at least 3000 years BC. And not only that, the grapevines cover about 7% of all farm land, which is the highest density in the world and Moldova also has THE HIGHEST WINE PRODUCTION PER CAPITA as well. The country, which is btw also the poorest in Europe, is independent since 1991 but still has close connections to Russia and its neighbours, so most of the export happens in that direction. This might change in the following years though as they are trying to improve more and more and orientate towards the west as well. Sounds like paradise? I´m sure it is, it´s been on my list for a while and I can´t wait to explore it one day – preferably during a ROAD TRIP through Romania, maybe Bulgaria and Ukraine as well. It seems to be one of those rare hidden gems left in Europe if you are looking for undiscovered places with no crowds and I can´t wait to drive into THE WORLD´S LARGEST WINE CELLAR, MILESTII MICI which is home to over 2mio bottles .
WAIHEKE ISLAND, New Zealand | wonderful wine region on an island close to Auckland
New Zealand wines are not something I normally come across in supermarkets back home in Slovenia nor in Germany to be honest. So before travelling to New Zealand I had no expectations and basically no clue what´s going on there. I ended up being positively surprised about the wine scene down there and even though this country has a much SHORTER WINE MAKING HISTORY as most of the other places on this list, they still have lots to offer. Probably, the most known wine region have to be MARLBOROUGH, CENTRAL OTAGO and HAWKE´S BAY, but I´m choosing the wonderful island of WAIHEKE, which is one of my all time favourite places and I can seriously even imagine living there.
Waiheke is a smaller island located in AUCKLAND BAY and it´s a great weekend getaway for city people as well as a popular day trip for travellers. It really has a little bit of everything, from awesome sandy beaches to lovely ice cream shops, art galleries, stunning tropical forests and of course, VINEYARDS, accompanied by almost 30 WINERIES. The local people are at most relaxed and friendly and there´s just this great overall vibe. Surely, I didn´t have the time to visit all of the wineries, so I can recommend MUDBRICK, CABLE BAY, MAN O´WAR and BATCH, but I´m sure you can´t really go wrong with any of the others as well. Amongst wine sorts that grow here PINOT GRIS, CHARDONNAY, SYRAH and the so-called BORDEAUX BLENDS (Merlot and Cabernet) are the most common.
NAPA VALLEY, USA | the most iconic wine region with over 400 wineries in the USA
Napa valley in California is without a doubt the most known wine region in the US and at the same time one of the most prestigious ones in the whole world. The valley is divided into almost 20 subregions, each with its own specific characteristics regarding the soil and climate. Overall there are over 400 WINERIES here and all the necessary tourist infrastructure as well – you can come here with the so-called WINE TRAIN, take a BALLOON RIDE over the vineyards and do many more interesting things besides sipping wine while enjoying stunning views. The most known wine sorts over here include CABERNET SAUVIGNON, followed by CHARDONNAY, MERLOT, PINOT NOIR, SAUVIGNON BLANC and ZINFANDEL (I especially love this one and I always have a bottle or two at home).
Geographically Napa valley is only a few kilometres north of SAN FRANCISCO, but also not too far from SACRAMENTO, making very easily accessible. If you are ever in San Francisco you should definitely add a few extra day and drive up there or include it into your USA road trip itinerary.
GORIŠKA BRDA, Slovenia | one of Slovenia´s most picturesque wine regions
Being Slovenian, I simply have to include one Slovenian wine region and I have to go with my favourite one, GORIŠKA BRDA, close to the Italian border. Despite being a small country we actually have quite a few awesome wine destinations, but this one is also the most developed in terms of tourism. Not only is the landscape wonderful, the wines and culinary experience is exactly fitting my taste as well, plus you can find lots of LOVELY PLACES TO STAY that have pools and enough privacy for a relaxing getaway weekend.
The white wines that grow over here are the local REBULA, followed by CHARDONNAY, SAUVIGNON, PINOT GRIS amongst the white ones and MERLOT & CABERNET SAUVIGNON amongst the red ones. There is lots of wineries to choose from and you can easily combine your visit with exploring the beautiful SOČA VALLEY, KARST, VIPAVA VALLEY or parts of Italy, especially Venice is not too far for example.
LA RIOJA, Spain | the “Spanish Tuscany” in the north of Spain
In the north of Spain, between Bilbao and Saragossa, we can indulge in one of internationally most known Spanish wine regions, LA RIOJA, which is often called „THE SPANISH TUSCANY“ as well. Regarding the altitude, climate and soil conditions, the area is divide into 3 SUBREGIONS: Rioja Alta (the oldest grapes close to Haro toen), Rioja Alavesa (geographically in Basque country) and Rioja Baja (in the SE close to Calahorra town). RIOJA WINES are based on TEMPRANILLO, GARNACHA TINTA, MAZUELO and GRACIANO red grapes and VIURA, MALVAZIJA IN GARNACHA white grapes. I´ve never travelled in these parts of Spain yet, but it´s on my list, possibly together with French Pyrenees and Spain´s northern coast.
RHEINGAU, Germany | a smaller but lovely wine region along the river Rhein
Germany might be more famous for its beers, but trust me, there´s a lot going on in terms of wine producing as well. The most known might the the MOSEL VALLEY but here, I´m choosing a much smaller, but a very attractive region called RHEINGAU. This area includes the towns of Rüdesheim am Rhein, Oestrich – Winkel and Eltville and all the hills along the RHEIN RIVER. It is also conveniently located very close to Frankfurt and Mainz which makes it easily accessible for many travellers who are either visiting Frankfurt or are on a longer road trip through Germany or on the way to other EU countries around.
The landscape is really picturesque and I especially recommend staying in RÜDESHEIM, visiting some of the many WINE CELLARS and WINE SHOPS in this lively town. The most common wines over here are PINOT NOIR and RHEINGAU RIESLING and the best thing to do is to RENT BICYCLES and cycle along 120km long WINE ROUTE passing wonderful castles, monasteries, gardens, charming villages and more. There are also lots of WINE FESTIVALS held in the area so check online before arriving. This is definitely one of those parts of Germany which will not disappoint.
MAIPO VALLEY, Chile | “SA Bordeaux” close to Santiago de Chile
Just slightly south from Chile´s capital city SANTIAGO, the country´s MOST KNOWN WINE REGION, also called the “Bordeaux of South America” is located. First vineyards were established already in the 16th Century but the turning point was the 19th Century when French grapes from around Bordeaux were brought to the country. Today, this area is divided into 3 parts: Alto Maipo (the most prestigious area on high altitudes along the Andes mountains), Central Maipo (an area with a mild climate near Buin and Paine towns) and Maipo Bajo (the lowest parts close to Isla del Maipo and Talagante). The most known wine produced here is CABERNET SAUVIGNON, followed by CARMENERE, MERLOT, SYRAH, CHARDONNAY and SAUVIGNON BLANC. When visiting Chile you might fly into Santiago or visit it during your trip and while there you should definitely jump over to Maipo for a couple of days as well.
TUSCANY, Italy | idillyc landscapes, Tuscan villas and tasty wines
Italy does have lots of great wine regions but TUSCANY has to be one of the best and definitely most known ones, therefore deserves to be on this list. It is also quite close to my home country, Slovenia, that´s why I´ve visited it already as well. Because Tuscany is quite large actually and geographically diverse, the taste of wines can be quite different. The wines in this region are CHIANTI CLASSICO, CHIANTI RUFINA, BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO, VINO NOBILE DI MONTEPULCIANO, VERNACCIA DI SAN GIMINIANO, MORELLINO DI SCANSANO and BOLGHERI and the main grape is SANGIOVESE. There exist also blends with Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah though.
Besides, did you know ITALY PRODUCES THE MOST WINE IN THE WORLD? Followed by Spain and France. And Tuscany belongs to the very top wine destinations in the world. It´s a wonderful place for a ROAD TRIP or a romantic WEEKEND GETAWAY and there are loads of marvellous TUSCAN VILLAS with pools and lush gardens to choose from.
STELLENBOSCH, South Africa | volcanic island
The history of South African wines dates back to the 17th Century, but they became internationally known and popular only in the last 40 years or so. Today, wine making is an important branch in South Africa where there are many wine regions throughout the country. Here I´m presenting an area I´ve visited during our awesome trip from Johannesburg to Capetown, STELLENBOSCH. Stellenbosch has a very important historical background with being the 2nd OLDEST SETTLEMENT, just after CAPETOWN. It is also the home of one of the best UNIVERSITIES FOR VITICULTURE in the world.
Stellenbosch is located in scenic setting just behind Capetown, not too far from CAPE PENINSULA which is one of the best places to visit in South Africa. There are over 150 WINERIES where you can indulge in WINE TASTINGS. The most known wines from this region are CABERNET SAUVIGNON and PINOTAGE (a mix of Pinot Noir and Cinsault), which is also a NATIONAL GRAPE of South Africa. Otherwise, you can also find Merlot, Shiraz, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Travelling Sout Africa is a great adventure and the area around Capetown and the Cape peninsula with Stellenbosch wineries is well worth visiting.
This list seems to be quite a good start, don´t you think? Still, I can´t wait to add a few locations soon, plans that include travelling and wine never run out. For those of you who are asking which wines are my favourite: from the red ones it´s Malbec, Syraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel and from the white ones it´s definitely Chablis and Pinot Grigio. I also like an occasional glass of a good rose wine. Now, if someone has other interesting ideas about lovely wine destinations, please share them with me.
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