Mr S and I absolutely love incorporating wine tasting or visiting a vineyard during a trip. Personally I love exploring the cellars or strolling through beautiful vineyards before returning to the house to sample some of their delicious wines along with a cheese plate and a view of the scenery. Now full disclosure, I’m no expert but I’ve put together my top ten wine regions for a combination of fantastic wineries, scenery and quality of wine.
1. Champagne, France
Of course, I had to start with my spiritual home and all time favourite tipple, Champagne in France! The home of the finest bubbly is a must for all lovers of the grape! It’s only around 45 minutes from Paris by train to the key areas of Reims and nearby Epernay where the champagne houses are located. I’d highly recommend a visit to Maison MUMM for a tour and a tasting which leads you through the champagne making process via an atmospheric visit to the cellars before ending at a museum dedicated to champagne.
I also visited the beautiful Perrier-Jouët cellars but sadly they are not open to the public, instead a great alternative is the Veuve-Cliquot House. Though I didn’t visit myself I’ve been told the grand architecture makes it a spectacular house to visit as well as seeing the caves and former Roman chalk mines.
2. Tuscany, Italy
Is there anything better than tasting wine under the Tuscan sun with a trip to Chianti? The majority of the wine produced in Chianti is red, and it is one of Italy’s most famous and loved wines. I’d highly recommend a visit to Badia a Passignano, a beautiful and vast wine estate owned by the Antinori family. Here you can enjoy a tour of the vineyards and cellars followed by a sampling of their finest wines over a Michelin-starred lunch.
A short drive from the Antinori estate is small family-run boutique wine estate called Podere Campriano. The two couldn’t be more different as with only five acres of land, the latter is teeny in comparison. We loved the personal feel of the place, beautiful views and excellent wine!
If you’re visiting Chianti, I’d recommend staying in nearby Florence, either at the grand palatial Four Seasons Firenze, or the beautiful and more intimate Il Salviatino in the hills of Fiesole.
3. Rioja, Spain
A visit to Rioja could form part of foodie tour to the Basque country encompassing a Michelin-starred restaurant in Bilbao and gastronomic capital, San Sebastian. Rioja is the most well-known wine region in Spain and it spans a vast 75 miles.
But a visit to Haro Station allows you to visit seven world-class wineries all two minutes walk apart! Actually Haro has the highest concentration of esteemed hundred-year old wineries in the world.
Our favourite bodegas were La Rioja Alta and R. Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia, and I was surprised to learn that Rioja isn’t all about red wine, white and sparkling wine are also produced in the region.
4. Lavaux, Switzerland
I’d never tried Swiss wine before visiting Lavaux during my trip to Lausanne but I was blown away by the beauty of the region and how delicious the wine is. Swiss wine is actually a well kept secret as they don’t export it to other countries – as they told me, they like to keep it for themselves!
With 14 villages spread along the 40 kilometres, it’s an UNESCO world heritage site with plenty of beautiful viewpoints to stop and have a glass of wine. I visited Cave de Moratel, a small family run vineyard with an exquisite chalet in the hills with an incredible view.
I stayed nearby at the Hotel Royal Savoy Lausanne and it was an easy boat trip to Cully and the wine regions from there.
5. Vienna, Austria
Vienna is the only world capital to produce large quantities of wine within the city limits. There are actually 700 hectares of vineyards with 2.4 million litres of wine being produced every year, 80% of which is white wine! Heurigers or wine taverns on the outskirts of the city offer wine from their vineyards accompanied by home made food.
We visited Weingut Wieninger, a beautiful family-run winery in Stammersdorfer which was about a thirty minute drive from the city centre and we were treated to a tour of the cellar and PLENTY of wine!
Another option for oenophiles in Vienna is visiting some of the world’s most beautiful wine cellars. I’d recommend a visit to the wine cellar at the Palais Coburg hotel which is renowned as the most beautiful in the city and was constructed from 16th Century historical ruins.
If you need somewhere to stay in Vienna, I couldn’t recommend the Hotel Imperial Vienna enough!
6. Provence, France
Think of rosé and I immediately imagine the rolling hills and Medieval villages of beautiful Provence in South East France. In fact 88% of the wine produced is rosé! Funnily enough I’m generally not a fan of pink wine as I find it too sweet, but I loved it here!
In Provence we visited small family run vineyard called Mas de la Dame, run by sisters Caroline Moissoffe and Anne Poniatowski, it has been producing wine and olive oil for four generations.
With wine being produced for 2,600 years, Provence is actually one of the oldest wine producing areas in France.
7. Napa Valley, California, USA
Moving out of Europe, Napa Valley truly is my spiritual home, a place that’s home to the most incredible wine and food and the most beautiful climate. There are 522 wineries so it can be hard to choose but we visited two beautiful vineyards which we loved.
There’s Frog’s Leap in Rutherford, based in a historic Red Barn producing all sorts of delicious wines including a classic Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
And Spring Mountain, a beautiful privately owned estate with a gorgeous setting in St Helena. You can book into either of these for a tasting and tour. I’d highly recommend a stay in beautiful Calistoga Ranch, and if you can get a booking, dinner at The French Laundry.
8. Yarra Valley, Melbourne, Australia
If you’re staying in Melbourne, I recommend a day trip to the beautiful Yarra Valley to try the famous Pinot Noir produced in the region. We visited four vineyards on a tour with Australian Wine Tour Co, Yering Station, Balgownie Estate and Yering Farm and my absolute favourite the Domaine Chandon Vineyard owned by Moet and Chandon.
9. The Winelands, Cape Town, South Africa
If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know South Africa is my favourite place on earth and what could be more perfect than a trip to the Winelands! It’s only around a 45 minute drive from Cape Town, and Franschhoek, Stellenbosch and Paarl house some of the major wineries with the most incredible scenery!
Vineyards that I recommend include Moreson, Haute Cabriere and La Petite Ferme where we also had a fantastic lunch. We got drunk at Moreson and ended up getting several cases of wine sent home!
For somewhere to stay, go for total opulence at La Residence or modern luxury at Delaire Graff Estate, both hotels have their own vineyard! If you can, get a booking at The Tasting Room, one of South Africa’s best restaurants.
10. Marlborough New Zealand (the dream!)
One for the wish list! My favourite wine of all time is Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough in New Zealand. Not only am I dreaming of trying the wine at its origin but also seeing the beautiful surrounding landscape.
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Those are my top ten of the world’s best wine regions. Have you been to a wine region? What’s your favourite?