From the top tipples in Europe, to the finest wines worldwide, we have explored the best wine destinations in the world, not to be missed by any budding wine connoisseur…
Seeing soft rolling hills dappled in a gently rising mist are how most mornings begin in the emerald-green region of Tuscany. One of Europe’s best-known wine destinations, the Chianti wine-producing region is postcard-perfect, with rolling olive groves, rustic stone farmhouses and Renaissance villas intertwined in the region’s landscapes. Wine-tasting is simply unmissable here, with vintners serving the finest Pinot Noir and Sauvingon Blanc in undeniably beautiful settings. Round off your Tuscan trip with a taste of the freshly grown produce – choose to sit back and indulge in an authentic Italian taverna, or immerse yourself with a cookery lesson before sampling your crafted cuisine.
Douro Valley, Portugal
The UNESCO World Heritage-listed Douro Valley is one of the world’s oldest distinguished wine destinations. Famous for producing sweet-tasting Port, the Portuguese valley is abundant with 18th and 19th-century Quintas (wine estates) and sprawling green vineyards. Savour the delicate flavours of a wine-tasting session with vintage varieties, or explore the landscape’s seemingly endless vineyards, where you may have the chance to join the grape harvest if your visit is well timed. When you aren’t sampling a tipple, admire the region from the comfort of a boat or train. The glistening Douro River flows through the heart of the valleys, with boat trips lasting from hours to days, while the 130-year-old railway route provides staggering vistas from every angle.
Napa Valley, California
Napa Valley has all of the charming characteristics you may expect of a world-famous wine region: hillside château wineries, perfectly lined vines and sloping green hillsides, with the added attraction of renowned restaurants and the famous Napa Valley Wine Train, which transports visitors on a 36-mile round-trip from Downtown Napa to St. Helena. From classic Cabernet Sauvignon to the perfect Pinot Noir, when you aren’t tasting fine wines at one of Napa Valley’s 400-plus wine estates, indulge in the region’s gourmet culture, with artisan bakeries, rustic cafés and Michelin-starred culinary institutions dotted between the sun-drenched scenery.
Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand
After being devasted by an earthquake in 1931, the Hawke’s Bay region has rebuilt itself as New Zealand’s Art Deco capital, but the landmark buildings aren’t the only attraction. A province famous for producing divine red wines, along with stunning Chardonnays, travellers flock to the orchards, vineyards and cellar doors for a taste of New Zealand’s internationally renowned wines. With abundant flat roads and scenery to take your breath away, cycling tours are a popular way to visit the region’s wineries, with plentiful chances to pop into a local artisan café for a light lunch along the way.
Franschhoek, South Africa
Located only a short drive from Cape Town, yet a world away from the buzz of the city, the pretty town of Franschhoek – which translates to ‘French Corner’ – is a must-stop destination for oenophiles visiting the Cape. While you may be happy to sip your way around the region’s wineries, perhaps by boarding the iconic Franschhoek Wine Tram, make sure to spare a moment to visit the gardens of Babylonstoren. The eight acres of formal gardens provide an oasis of calm – stroll from the peaceful lotus ponds, beneath the apple and pear trees, through the zesty citrus block and into the Greenhouse, a contemporary restaurant serving fresh, picnic-style cuisine and refreshing, ice-cold beverages.
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