10 Top Places for Wine across the planet
There are thousands of great wine places in the world, from the local wine bars to the wine tasting in a Tuscan agriturismo, and selecting only ten is not an easy task – so I included some of the best regions to visit, diving in to the more specific places giving you a local feeling.
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For this reason, you won’t see some of my favourite wine bars in the list, such as Terroirs in London, but you will still catch the New York skyline because of the closeness to wineries in the state. It seems that no matter where I look, there will be something left out - so in the end I decided to give you areas worth a visit because of fame, beauty and of course the wine experience, often accompanied by a nice meal. There are of course also some great lesser known wine regions, such as Turkish Öküzgözü, which has more quality than fame - but those I save for another day, to give you a chance to discover some lesser known wine places across the world
1. Tuscany, Italy
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To me, going to Italy is like going to another era - there is so much history, culture and beautiful nature in almost any place you visit that you never want to leave. Driving through Tuscany and staying at the agriturismo’s with local wine tasting is one of the experiences I would include in almost any travel list with great places to visit, giving it a well-deserved first spot in this list. I would definitely recommend a wine tour if it’s your first trip, but also try to have enough time to drive around by yourselves, and don’t miss giving a visit to Montalcino, both for the Brunello vineyards and cellars combined with the unique surrounding landscape, and to see the medieval city of Siena where you can easily relax and feel the wings of history.
2. Bordeaux, France
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This is of course another predictable choice, but we all know no serious wine or wine travel list would be complete without mentioning Bordeaux. The locals of the area are rightly proud of their wine production and of their region, and aren’t difficult to ask for tips on where to go and which vineyards to visit and wines to try. With such wineries as Chateaux Margau and many more chateaux spread over this most famous wine region, none should leave without a lifted spirit. My top vineyard recommendation would however be Chateau Mouton Rothschild, where you usually don’t have to book far in advance, they have one of the greatest red wines in the world, all accompanied by a nice museum.
3. Northern California, USA
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I am always torn between recommending Sonoma or Napa for people who only have time for one, so ended up recommending them together - after all, one can easily be reached from the other, and of course you can include San Fransisco without too many extra hours on the road. If you have limited time, go to Napa Valley to enjoy the amazing scenery as a backdrop to both large and small wineries. Napa Valley is known as the American capital of wine, but Sonoma is a runner-up to that spot and well worth a visit. Have a tour on the Napa Valley Wine Train if you don't mind the crowds. Also, don't miss a visit to Sterling Vineyards for a friendly reception and nice samples of the local wines.
4. Stellenbosch, South Africa
The Stellenbosch region has a Mediterranean climate and scenery reminding of Napa Valley, but with fewer people bumping into you. One of the most beautiful wine regions in the world also has some of the greatest spots for drinking wine. I would recommend going to Waterford Estate for some great wine and chocolate pairings, don’t miss the amazing views with your wine tastings at Ernie Els, and go to Ken Forrester Vineyards for a more family friendly visit, with their lovely cottages by a crystal clear dam, horses to ride and a praised restaurant from which you can enjoy the scenery and some of the best wines of South Africa. For Stellenbosch, as with much of South Africa, there’s so many places to visit that it could make an article by itself – just like most of these places.
5. South Australia
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Australia is a country of great spaces, and driving around in wine country down under will most probably show you a few things you never experienced before. All the Australians I know love to travel across the planet and discover new places, but this doesn’t mean that they don’t have anywhere to visit in their own country. The region gives you eye candy everywhere you go, with mountains, valleys, hillsides full of grapevines, sheep on the road and unique foods. Besides this, for the lover of a Cabernet Sauvignon the South Australia wine region has many award-winning wines – and Barossa Valley stands out as a destination, especially if you want quality wine and views and feel that you are in the capital of Australian wine making.
6. New York, USA
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Considering places to travel, I find that New York has some great vineyard as a state, while New York City features world class wine bars and restaurants to mix your rural holiday with a big city visit while keeping within the wine topic. Although I enjoy for example Paris or Milan more as a city to visit, New York does have everything within a fairly short drive. The state includes the oldest still operating winery in the nation - Brotherhood, 86 new wineries opened between 2000-2009 and there are multiple wine trails to follow. After visiting the wineries you can continue your wine journey in the city, with a number of wineries and excellent wine tasting experiences at for example The International Culinary Center, and of course great wine bars such as Terroir. Visit North Fork for great scenery and 18 vineyards with short distances between them.
7. Rioja, Spain
There are many parts of Spain that are great destinations, but when it comes to wine there is one standing out well above the rest. The Rioja region is named after the river Rio Oja flowing through the Oja province and has a beautiful backdrop with 57 000 hectares of vineyards across the region. Visit Bodegas Darien or Finca Valpiedra for a good experience, or simply take a relaxing guided wine tour. Also, while in Rioja, don't miss the stunning architecture of wineries such as Ysios, Marqués de Riscal and Bodegas Baigorri.
8. Marlborough, New Zealand
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With hundreds of vineyards, you can easily explore the Marlborough area by car, with a guided tour or even bicycle. The area is famous for some great Sauvignon Blanc, some saying it’s the world capital of the varietal,, but there are also many other wonderful white wines to accompany the vast variety of seafood in the area. I recommend getting on a bike, cycling around to visit wineries such as Clifford Bay Estate and have the delicious smoked salmon for lunch and moving on to Herzog winery before dinner to have a chance to mingle with the chefs and perhaps learn a thing or two about cooking.
9. Baden, Germany
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This northern German region has great hospitality and a multitude of relaxing little restaurants which serve local wines paired with the most suited available food. This is one on of my favorite areas in northern Europe, where a Pinot Noir “aristocrat of red wines” is accompanied with several varietals of white wines, with the Pinot Gris and Muller Thurgau grapes thriving in the area. Many Germans I know visit Baden instead of going abroad for a nice and relaxing holiday, and in the southern part you can also visit the beautiful Bodensee (Lake Constance in English), or you can visit excellent wineries such as Rolf Willy for some great red wine, with nearby small towns Lauffen with a completely walled old-town and relaxing little Besigheim for some local wines.
10. Central Valley, Chile
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Chilean wines have been coming for a number of years now, and the country is well worth a visit both for the wine and the nature. One of the best known vineyards is Montes Wine in the sub-region Colchagua Valley, situated in the south part of the almost 700 kilometre wide Central Valley region. The Colchagua area is actually mentioned by many as one of the greatest overlooked wine destinations in the world, and was a driving force in remaking the Chilean wines from cheap table wines to the premium wines that are now coming out of the country. Enjoy the views of both architecture and nature at Clos Apalta Winery, or visit the Vina Estampa Winery for even more architecture, award winning wines, live music or taking part in the harvest
About the blogger:
Emil Hunefalk is a wine lover and constant Traveller , founder of WineTravelr.com, a wine site for wine afficionados. Check it out for excellent tips and wine destinations in the world.
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