These Are the Best Wine Vacations You Can Take
For wine lovers around the world, finding the best wine vacations is nothing less than a spiritual experience. Vineyards are hidden gems, nestled along hillsides or tucked into valleys of serene landscapes and winding vines bursting with pristinely cared for grapes that transform into the delicious nectar that wine connoisseurs and amateurs alike enjoy.
Although winemaking has been around since ancient times, wine tasting tours have only been going on since the mid-1970s. Since then, the popularity and lavish packages associated with vineyards have made wine vacations a popular destination for many.
A Little History
Italy, Armenia, Georgia and Greece hold the earliest winemaking indications, with practices dating back to 7000 BC. While those countries still boast some of the most magnificent wines worldwide, they aren’t the only countries to dominate as the best winemakers in the world. While Italy, Greece, France and Australia are probably forefront in your mind when you think of wine consumption and production, they have some incredibly stiff competition.
The world is spattered with vineyards that not only create full-bodied wines but offer tours and tastings so you can experience the beauty and history first hand. While you may be familiar with the better-known food and wine vacations, some hidden gems make our top three spots for best wine vacations.
Bordeaux, France, has long been known as one of the most beautiful and fruitful destinations for food and wine vacations. France has a rich and diverse history, and the story of Bordeaux wine is no exception. The history of Bordeaux dates back nearly 2,000 years to Roman times, so it’s no surprise that the fruits of their labor make up some of the most delicious wine in the world.
What to Expect
The Bordeaux wine region spans nearly 300,000 acres along the Dordogne River of France. It’s no coincidence that the wines that come from the grapes grown in this area are some of the finest in the world, as the vineyards’ soil offers the grapes optimal growth.
France is easily one of the best wine vacation destinations with its scenic, lush green fields and iconic scenery. If you’re lucky enough to visit during the Bordeaux Wine Festival that takes place alternating years, you will make your experience even better. Add a visit to the La Cite Du Vin museum to your trip to make this a truly remarkable food and wine vacation.
To help you narrow down your initial choices, I’m listing two great vineyards top-rated among wine lovers.
Le Pied à Terre
The Bordeaux vineyard, run by two brothers who have extensive knowledge and experience in winemaking, explains the complicated process in a language that even a novice will understand. The Le Pied à Terre wine cellar is located right near Gambetta Square and offers the unique experience of visiting the blending laboratory where the flavorful wines come to fruition.
Enjoy the Saint-Emilion’s splendor with a walking tour, then partake in a serene biking tour of the countryside. The wine tasting guides will tell you the history of the Saint-Emilion wine country, then enjoy a delicious lunch and wine tasting at the vineyard. This wine vacation destination is a must for anyone who enjoys the finest wine and desires to take a leisurely bike ride through the French countryside.
Cape Town, South Africa
It might be surprising that South Africa’s wine history dates back to the 1600s in Cape Town by Jan van Riebeeck. South Africa doesn’t usually come to mind at the first thought of wine vacations, but aside from its beautiful, mountainous scenery, Cape Town offers a great way to spend the day sipping wine on a wine-tasting tour.
What To Expect
Cape Town offers several wineries that can hold up to any around the world, boasting some of the most fruitful and oldest wineries. Wine fanatics know South Africa’s area as having some of the finest wines, beautiful landscapes and delicious foods. It’s no surprise that South Africa is only continuing to expand in the wine world, creating some of the most delectable and affordable wines.
There are many wine tours available in Cape Town, and I recommend that you book in advance due to their popularity. You will have the specialized services of a wine guide and book through several online sources and the ability to choose from an enormity of different vineyards.
The top wine regions and favorites of tourists in Cape Town include the following areas.
Stellenbosch is one of the most popular destinations for a wine route, with nearly 150 vineyards, some of which have 5-star restaurants, immaculately maintained landscapes and Cape Dutch manor houses. Stellenbosch is a favorite of visitors and locals alike. You’ll enjoy fine dining, finely crafted wines, and tours from experienced vintners.
The landscape of Stellenbosch broadly consists of vineyards and wineries. Take in the pristinely kept orchards across acres of land as far as the eye can see. The vineyards and wineries across Stellenbosch constitute one of the best food and wine vacations in Cape Town.
A charming tram tour is available to guide you through the wine region of Franschhoek. Relax and enjoy the opportunity to explore various wineries at a leisurely pace as you hop on and off the tram whenever you please. Since you only need to take the tram to the wineries, you don’t have to limit the various wines you sample.
The tram tour runs in a loop, allowing passengers to get on and off at any time as they experience a multitude of wine tasting opportunities, lunch or a walk through the magnificent vineyards. When the tourist chooses, they can hop on the tram and go off to another vineyard on the tram’s stopping route.
The lucky traveler learns the history of Franschhoek as they partake in breathtaking views of the vineyards. The tour guide gives an account of the town and wine cultivation along the way.
Napa Valley, USA
Napa Valley is known as one of the most beautiful wine regions with more than 400 wineries. Sonoma County, located about an hour away from San Francisco, is one of the most renowned and beautiful areas for wineries in the United States.
An important date for Napa Valley’s history was in the 1940s when the first vintners realized that they would do well by joining forces rather than going at it alone. Seven vintners started the Napa Valley Vintners trade association in 1944, which began the stunning 550 wineries that you will find in the area today.
What To Expect
Napa Valley has many fine wineries to choose from for the experienced wine connoisseur, but it’s also a great place to visit if you’re only just finding your footing in the wine community. Many stunning wineries offer tastings on tours and even take you through the winemaking process while explaining where they come up with the wine profiling.
With literally hundreds of wineries to choose from throughout Napa Valley, I’ve listed our top choices to help narrow the search. While you shouldn’t limit yourself to these choices, it’s a solid starting point for your wine vacation.
At this gorgeous vineyard, the wine never tastes the same from one year to the next, as it says on their website, but they create the wines with the unique flavors that each new season gives. The flavors of Montenela are unique, and the experience spans over 140 years, with no two seasons ever being the same.
Montenela’s history and respect for the land allow them to produce unique and quality grapes. This encourages them to leave most of the work to the fruit to create the hidden notes and rich flavors within their wine. The vintners are merely the tools by which the grapes make their way to the nectar that many have come to love.
Napa Valley Wine Train
The Napa Valley Wine Train will take you on one of the most memorable journeys you will ever experience. Take a ride in the beautifully refurbished antique train through Wine Country and feast on a gourmet lunch. Since you don’t need to worry about driving, you can sit back, relax and take in the view of endless rolling hills decorated with olive and fruit orchards. You can choose numerous vineyards to visit along the way during this once in a lifetime food and wine vacation.
Choosing Best Wine Vacation for Your Next Trip
With over 40,000 wineries worldwide and more than 250,000 various wines, the options for a wine tasting holiday are overwhelming. I’ve given you three of our favorite destinations, but ultimately, the choice is yours.
One thing’s for sure, with the vast range of wines, cultures and countries that offer wine vacations, the only trouble you will have in finding a destination is that, like the wines that these vintners produce, there are multitudes of unique opportunities.
The best wine vacations are a phenomenal experience to have as a wine lover. Whichever country you choose to visit and partake in a wine tour, you can be assured that it will be a fruitful experience.