Wine tourism has become a popular travel category – these more exotic destinations will give you real bragging rights!
Stellenbosch, SOUTH AFRICA
This is a perfect place to spend a day, picnicking on a centuries-old wine estate, quaffing smooth Pinotage reds from the encircling vines. The surrounding landscape is spectacular with imposing mountains, beneath which nestle dazzling Cape Dutch farms. Wine has been produced here since the 1650’s when the first Dutch settlers recognized its potential. The Coastal Region is the best place for wine lovers to spend some time as it includes big-name locales such as Franschhoek, Paarl and Stellenbosch. All are an easy drive from Cape Town.
Here, where Western Asia meets Eastern Europe, wine production first began more than 7,000 years ago. This is where the very word ‘wine’ is derived: from “gvino”, the Georgian word for wine. Today, more species of grape are grown in Georgia than anywhere else in the world. Visits to wineries here are like stepping back in time to a simpler, but authentic vinicultural experience. For instance, Pheasant’s Tears Winery offers both tastings and horseback riding tours through the vineyards.
Marlborough, NEW ZEALAND
rows of vine in vineyard in New Zealand © Patrik Stedrak
Any visit to New Zealand’s South Island should include time on the Marlborough Wine Trail which is bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the east and imposing mountain ranges to the north and south. A mix of broad alluvial plain and narrow valleys offer a range of terroir, ideal for what has frequently been described as the world’s finest Sauvignon. Marlborough is New Zealand’s largest wine growing area, producing iconic brands such as Cloudy Bay, through to small boutique family producers.
Barossa valley, AUSTRALIA
Less than an hour’s drive from Adelaide, Australia’s most famous wine region invites visitors to linger awhile amongst its many vineyards, which are now complemented by some outstanding restaurants. The vantage point of Mengler Hill provides a fine overview of the valley. Then descend to sample the delights of the many vineyards that welcome travellers to some of the oldest Shiraz vines in the world. Famous brands include Penfolds and Wolf Blass. Every two years the Barossa Valley Vintage Festival adds another reason to spend some leisurely time in this delightful part of Australia.
Organic vineyards near Mendoza in Argentina with Andes in the background © pawopa3336
It’s all about Malbzec here in the foothills of the Andes. With the snow-capped mountains rising to more than 6,000 metres in the background, the vineyards seem to float off into the sky. Mendoza is the place to go: its wines range from the finest Malbecs to simple foot-pressed wines. Best of all, wine tourism is now well-developed, and it is possible not only to tour and taste, but also to eat well and stay in fine fincas, or manor houses.
For the ultimate wine trip, consider Moldova! It’s a landlocked country in Eastern Europe bordered by Ukraine and Romania. Its large wine production is becoming better known in the west, and wine tourism is rapidly developing. One of the star attractions is the world’s largest wine cellar at Mileștii Mici. It is recognized as ‘the largest wine cellar by number of bottles’ by Guinness World Records: underground tunnels stretch over 50 kilometres and are filled with 1.5 million bottles of wine.