10 Unbeatable Travel Destinations for Wine Lovers
People have been drinking wine since prehistoric times, so it's no surprise that it plays an important role in many cultures around the world. For those with a true thirst for travel and a trip that involves meeting real local people and enjoying an authentic experience in some of the most beautiful places the world has to offer, this list offers some unbeatable suggestions.
#1. TUSCANY, ITALY
Fine food and wine are at the very heart of Italian culture, but the verdant hills of Tuscany present some of the best that the country has to offer. The region is home to the world-famous Chianti wine, a traditional type of wine exclusive to a region of the same name in central Tuscany. The most common grape types in the region are the Sangiovese (red) and the Vernaccia (white).
#2. NAPA VALLEY, CALIFORNIA
With the first commercial winery being opened in 1859, California's Napa Valley has grown to become the largest and most famous wine region in the US. Home to over 450 wineries, the region also caters well to visitors with its many luxury resorts, spas and boutique hotels. Dozens of grape varieties are grown in the region, including Cabernet sauvignon, Pinot noir, Merlot, Zinfandel and Chardonnay.
#3. LOIRE VALLEY, FRANCE
France's Loire Valley has a long history of wine-making, spanning back some two millennia. The region spans from near the Atlantic coast to the northern centre of France, and it's divided into three regions. Each region has a unique focus, with Upper Loire specialising in Sauvignon blanc, Middle Loire specialising in Chenin blanc and Lower Loire being dominated by the Melon de Bourgogne grape.
#4. PORTO, PORTUGAL
Porto is Portugal's largest city and also the heart of the country's wine-making region, as well as the namesake of the desert wine. It's one of the best places to combine a city break with enotourism, and visitors will find no shortage of stunning wine cellars under the streets of the old city. However, you definitely shouldn't miss out on a visit to one of the wineries themselves, located in the Douro Valley
#5. COLCHAGUA VALLEY, CHILE
Chile produces some of the best wines in the Americas, and the country has consistently been voted one of the world's best places to travel. Located around half way down the country, near the Argentinian border, the region is home to many upmarket wine spas and a wonderful abundance of top-quality red wines, most of which are made from the Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec or Shiraz grapes.
#6. WESTERN CAPE, SOUTH AFRICA
South Africa's Western Cape is home to the majority of the country's world-famous wine industry, with most production taking place in Paarl and Stellenbosch. Most visitors start in Cape Town where many tours of the wine region start. The wine region stretches more than 200 miles from the city, and you'll find everything here from rich reds from Shiraz to fresh whites from Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc.
#7. BAROSSA VALLEY, AUSTRALIA
Although a relative newcomer to the wine scene, having been obscure until the seventies, Australia is now the world's fourth largest producer. The Barossa Valley, in the south, is one of the country's most important wine regions, and it's also home to the Barossa Valley Vintage Festival, held for a week every two years. The region is most famous for its Shiraz grapes, though many other varieties are also grown.
#8. CAHUL, MOLDOVA
Tiny Moldova used to produce the majority of the wine for the Soviet Union and the Russian Empire before it. Located in the south of the country and sandwiched between Ukraine and Romania, the Cahul region is the country's top wine producer. The local climate favours red wines, particularly of sweeter varieties. Although poor, Moldova remains one of Europe's most authentic and traditional wine regions.
#9. KAKHETI, GEORGIA
Tucked away in the stunning Caucuses Mountains, Georgia is a country that has a vast amount to offer, including some of the world's finest and most unique wine. In fact, they've been making wine there for more than 8,000 years, so they certainly know what they're doing. Kakheti is the main wine-making region, and it's also home to hundreds of endemic grape varieties that are unknown to the rest of the world.
#10. HAWKE'S BAY, NEW ZEALAND
One of New Zealand's oldest wine regions, dating back some 150 years, Hawke's Bay is famous for its Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Chardonnay. The volcanic soil in the region is said to give locally produced wines a distinct flavour, while the dry, warm summers are particularly conducive to forming a highly versatile wine region. There are presently 72 wineries in the region.
The world of wine has so much to offer from sprawling lush vineyards to tiny local vintners, but you'll never be able to visit all of them. Nonetheless, the above suggestions should get you started on the right track, and they do present some of the most unmissable destinations for wine lovers everywhere.