The World's Best Wine Destinations

The World’s Best Wine Destinations

Wine-growing regions are attractive for a number of reasons. First and most-obviously, the idea of tasting one of the world’s oldest and most popular drinks at its source is enough to seduce many travelers to take a wine-centered trip. Wine growing regions also boast rural charms and natural beauty, with most found in lush valleys and landscapes that feature lakes, rivers, and mountains or rolling hills. Many small wineries are old, having been in operation for generations, so the ambiance and charm of the properties themselves are part of the attraction.

If you are seeking a wine themed vacation that is centered around some of the world’s best vineyards, these wine destinations should be at the top of your to-visit list.

Bordeaux, France

Bordeaux, France

Photo: Anne C. Berry / Flickr

This is arguably the most respected wine-growing legion in France. Sure, some of the world’s most famous labels have vineyards in this area, but so do a number of smaller, local growers and wine-makers, who produce good table wines for sale regionally and nationally. Wine is a major part of the lifestyle of Bordeaux, so tastings are held all over the place. Certainly, the centuries-old wineries themselves are attractive places to visit, but events also take place in historic chateaus and castles found in this part of France. If you are looking for a wine destination that has great wine and also has an abundance of atmosphere, Bordeaux is the place for you.

Upstate New York, USA

Upstate New York, USA

Photo: visit-fingerlakes / Flickr

One of the most interesting and attractive wine destinations in North America is found in a rather unexpected place. A wine-growing region that surrounds the Finger Lakes of Upstate New York features some of the best small wineries in the United States. This is also one of the most scenic places to visit vineyards. The grape-fields are found on the slopes of green hills, many of which overlook the area’s lakes. There are two well-traveled routes, the Cayuga Wine Trail and the Seneca Wine Trail, both of which pass through the best of the Finger Lakes’ 100-plus wineries.

Tuscany, Italy

Tuscany, Italy

Photo: Michal Osmenda / Flickr

For people seeking a classic wine destination, Tuscany is the undisputed champion. This is where to find the classic wine-tourist experience. Aged wineries are still in operation here, with some winemakers even relying on traditional methods, such as crushing the grapes with their feet, to make their product. Some of the world’s most famous wines, such as Chianti, come from this province of Italy. Amazing castles, farmhouses and wine cellars that are inside of actual caves and tunnels make this the most authentic and atmospheric places to take a winery-focused vacation.

California, USA

California, USA

Photo: jimg944 / Flickr

If you are in the United States, some of the most popular wine-growing regions are found in Central California. Napa Valley is the epicenter of wine-growing in the US. It is also the most popular place for wine tourism, with millions of people (some estimates put the number of annual visitors at over 4 million) coming to the more-than-400 wineries that are found in the valley. Wine growing regions are found all along California’s scenic Central Coast and in the hills around the Bay Area. So if you would like to avoid the crowds of Napa, there are other options in the Golden State as well.

Cape Winelands, South Africa

Cape Winelands, South Africa

Photo: zoe shuttleworth / Flickr

Some of the finest wines made outside of France and Italy are found in the lush, fertile lands of South Africa, just outside of the southernmost city of Cape Town. These vineyards can be easily reached as part of a day tour, with towns like Stellenbosch, a short distance outside of Cape Town, offering great atmosphere and great wine. Wine tourism is growing in South Africa, but it is still very easy to find an authentic vineyard and winery where you can enjoy the unique experience while looking over the amazing landscapes of the Cape area.

Barossa Valley, Australia

Barossa Valley, Australia

Photo: amandabhslater / Flickr

This world-class wine-growing region in southern Australia makes some of the most respected wines in the world. This picturesque area can be easily reached from the city of Adelaide (less than an hour by car), and there is plenty to see and do, with over 150 wineries in the area. Most tourists either sign up for a tour or take a self-guided tour along one of the “wine trails” that the tourist authorities have designed.

Do you have a wine destination that you think belongs on this list? Let us know about it in the comments section below.

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About Josh Lew

Josh Lew has traveled widely in Asia and the Americas. He has contributed to popular travel sites like Gadling and Brave New Traveler and currently writes a weekly travel column for MNN. His work has also appeared on the websites of CNN and Forbes Magazine.

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