If we are speaking honestly, there are far more than a handful of cities, regions, and countries famous for wine, but that full list would go on forever. Some people dedicate their lives to studying wine production, and structure their travels so that they can sample as many varieties as possible. Whether you’re an aspiring sommelier, or just somebody who enjoys a glass of something full-bodied and flavorful after a long day, here are seven great places for wine lovers.
1. Napa Valley, California
Nothing wine related can possibly be complete without mention of California.
The top wine types to check out here are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Zinfandel.
Arrange for a visit to one of Napa’s many wineries to learn about wine production, and learn which wines pair best with certain meals.
If you’re the active type, do a “Sip and Cycle” tour, which entails biking through the valley, with intermittent stops for lunch and wine.
2. Porto/ Douro Valley, Portugal
Porto is Portugal’s second-largest city, and though often eclipsed by Lisbon in terms of popularity, there is much to be savored here.
Nearby Duoro Valley, which you can visit for a day before heading back to Porto, is perfect for lovers of port wines.
As Travel Awaits explains, “to be a proper port wine, the grapes must be Portuguese indigenous varietals, and they must be grown in the Douro Valley region.”
Port wines are broken down into four classifications: ruby, tawny, white, and rosé (this last one tends to be on the sweeter side).
3. Bordeaux, France
Bordeaux is home to vineyards with history spanning centuries.
According to Visit French Wine, you can sample “reds, dry or sweet whites, rosé, light reds and sparkling whites.”
Your environment can enhance your wine adventure, so why not consider accommodations close to the vineyards?
Near Saint-Emilion, for example, is the gorgeous Château de Pitray, with beautiful interiors and friendly hosts who are happy to arrange tours of the vineyards on request.
4. Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town in South Africa is home to stunning landscapes, and there are many wine estates here.
Love Cape Town suggests Constantia, where you’ll find “world-class sauvignon blancs, delightful reds, and the famous Constantia dessert wine.”
There’s also Durbanville, a good choice if you like “intense, fruit-driven, yet refined wines.”
If you’re looking for a wine route that also offers antique shops, galleries, and restaurants, check out charming Franschhoek.
Argentina’s contributions to the wine world are well documented, particularly its rich, inky malbecs. It is the fifth-largest producer of wine in the world, according to The Culture Trip.
Mendoza is the epicenter of wine production, and the high altitude and sunny weather allow for robust and flavorful grapes to flourish.
There’s also San Juan (Syrah is the most common), Catamarca, Salta, and the province of Río Negro.
6. La Rioja, Spain
Spain produces some robust wines, and La Rioja, a province in the north of the country, consists of “three sub-appellations, Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Baja.”
Factors like soil quality and elevation dictate the flavor of the wines produced.
No trip to Spain is complete without tapas, and La Rioja’s capital city, Logroño, offers plenty of little bars and restaurants with a wide variety of them.
7. Tuscany, Italy
Tuscany ranks as the sixth-largest wine producing region in Italy, and the Sangiovese grape is the most common in the vineyards here.
Some producing areas include the Chianti Classico area, Montalcino, Montepulciano, and, though not as well known, the Maremma.
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Brunello di Montalcino, both with the Sangiovese base, are lusty red wines.
Tuscany offers some great white wines as well, made from Trebbiano and Vernaccia grapes. If you’re into dessert wines, the region produces Vin Santo, often paired with almond biscotti.
8. Willamette Valley, Oregon
Many often overlook Oregon as a contender for great wine, but they hold their own against the world’s best. As one of the Pinot Noir capitals of the world, Oregon Wine Country is home to over 800 wineries and vineyards. Yes, 800.
There are even a few Black winemakers and sommeliers contributing to the progress of the region too.