The tremendous advantage of wine tours is that they combine tasting delights with history and nature. Routes wind across solitary valleys, through cute little towns and past traditional cellars to give you a vivid taste of what they call the culture of winemaking, with all its accompanying spirit and beauty.
Stellenbosch, Western Cape, South Africa
Stellenbosch is undoubtedly the prettiest little town in the Western Cape province. Situated about 50 km (30 mi) east of Cape Town, it is known for its vivid palette of colors, charming Cape Dutch architecture and the best quality wine in the whole of South Africa. Thanks to the efforts of 3 major producers, a fabulous wine route was founded in1971 and has been promoting its members ever since.
Today there are over 200 grape producers who offer daily wine tasting, cellar tours and sales, as well as romantic little restaurants, vibrant student life, and cute picnic facilities for you to take in the spirit of Cape Winelands, one of the less known but most adorable wine tour destinations in the world.
Marlborough, New Zealand
Marlborough is the largest wine producing region in New Zealand, accounting for as much as 79% of the country’s total production. With over 9000 hectares of vineyards and a host of gourmet eateries, Marlborough will definitely please those for whom the delights of the palate are dearest. But there is something in the region that rivals the wine, namely the Marlborough Sounds. You’ll have a hard time deciding whether it’s the award-winning Sauvignon Blanc or the awe-inspiring network of sea-drowned valleys that makes a greater asset to this wine tour destination.
Valle del Maipo, Chile
A Mediterranean-like climate and the vicinity of the Andes make the Maipo Valley a perfect place to develop a diverse culture of vinification . In fact, it is he oldest wine-producing zone in Chile, with vineyards stretching eastwards from Santiago to the Andes and westward to the very coast.
Boasting some of the word’s best reds, Maipo will spoil you with anything from Cabernet Sauvignon to Merlot, but also extremely praised Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Apart from wine, the visual attractions abound. Tiny villages clinging to the mountainsides, snow-capped peaks and the shimmering Maipo river add a great deal to the wine tour adventure.
La Rioja, Spain
Ever since the Romans, who made wine making a vital part of theirculture, La Rioja has been a significant element ofSpain‘s history. Today, the region pays homage to its heritage andancient wineries still exist all over the area, boasting thebest-quality Crianza,Reserva and Gran Reserva However, you’re in for a great surprisewhen you land in Elciego and see the cutting-edge hotel nestled inthe oldest bodega of the region and designed by Frank Gehry. Thearchitectural marvel is as great a tourist magnet as the wine itself.
Marqués de Riscal Hotel. By Fallrod
Valle de San Millán de la Cogolla, La Rioja. By Cenobio
France is a country full of passion, which naturally extends to culture, food and wine. This is particularly true in Bordeaux, where the outstanding architectural ensemble, best quality reds and whites, as well as food to please the most demanding palates reflect the love of elegance, good taste and sophistication. With 60 appellations and more than 8,500 producers, Bordeaux has anything to spoil a wine-enthusiast, from candle-lit dinners in romantic châteaux to private chauffeur-driven tours around charming Medoc or St. Emilion.
Saint Émilion. By Seracat
Mosel River, Germany
There’s a fairytale-like quality to the Mosel Valley in western Germany, with its cobbled streets, romantic villages, vine-covered slopes, enchanted castles above and the steamy river down below. Bernkastel-Kues and Cochem, adorable old towns, are two pearls not to be missed by any means, and if it’s only wine you’re af
ter, experience the warm hospitality and the best of whites at Weingut Rademacher, a family winery with guestrooms overlooking the vineyards.
Barossa Valley, Australia
Climb up the Mengler Hill and take a look at the hectares of vineyard stretching across the Barossa Valley, where each season of the year brings a different coat to the rolling hills. Then make yourself comfortable at a winery of your choice and sample the crisp rieslings, soft chardonnays and rich shiraz that the region prides on. Little cottages, baaing sheep, fine restaurants, old churches, magnificent wineries and traditional music await you in a tranquil rural setting, where you’re bound to experience the best of South Australia‘s hospitality.
Milestii Mici, Moldova
While the appeal of most wine tour destinations consists to a large extent in their fabulous landscapes, it is the underground marvels that make Milestii Mici, Moldova, a “must do” point on the list of every taste traveler. 250 km (155mi) of corridors, with tunnel streets named “Cabernet”, “Shardonait”, “Feteasca”, “Sauvignon” etc., form a bottle-filled network of an underground wine city with the largest (2 million) wine collections in the world.
Tours end with lunch and wine tasting in a candle-lit, traditional room, to the sound of violin and accordion. Oak tables, cold stone walls, dim light and Moldovian folk songs make for a really authentic feeling of an emblematic Moldovan wine cellar.
Napa and Sonoma Valleys, California, USA
California is synonymous of sun and wine. The almost symbolic Napa Valley is one of the major wine regions of the world, and the bountiful presence of gourmet restaurants, clubs and spa-treatment makes it a sought-after holiday destination. More than five million visitors flock to Napa each year, making it one of the most popular tourist attractions in Northern California and crowding its roads on summer weekends.
Sonoma is Napa’s peaceful little sister. Its valley is what some visitors hoped the bustling, tourist-packed Napa would be: peaceful, sleepy, and romantic, with the combination of a rich European heritage and the fresh vitality of the USA. Accommodation is cheaper and things are less hectic here, so if you’re in NorCal purely to take delight in its wine, Sonoma will perhaps be a better choice. Cooking courses, horseback rides and balloon trip are also available if you please.
Tuscany, a large region in Central Italy, is an exciting vacation destination that provides an exhilarating range of attractions and activities. Soothing views abound at every turn, picturesque vineyards adorn the rolling hills year-round and wineries of every type dot the landscape. Whether you are wine tasting, dining at fine restaurants, marveling at the rich artistic legacy of Florence, Siena and San Gimignano, or just letting your hair down at quaint bed & breakfasts, Tuscany is your green spot of heaven on earth. Our picks for breathtaking wine tours are the regions of Chianti and Val d’Orcia.