Follow your palette around the globe for a unique wine break in in one of the world’s top wine destinations. No need to book blindly, we’ve plucked the seven best of the bunch!
Sonoma Valley, California
Skip the been-there-done-that Napa region and head for Sonoma Valley for a more intimate wine break. It’s not just the deliriously rich Pinots that will warm hearts; the charm of the local residents will really bowl you over. With its happy-go-lucky approach and live music sunset sessions, a gander through the Gundlach Bundschu Winery will fulfil your California dreamin’ no end. The local restaurants hit the mark in the food-stakes too. Be sure to soak up your Chardonnay intake with an impromptu feast at The Girl and Fig, a relax-and-put-your-feet-up bistro with wow-factor charcuterie boards to match the heaven-sent wine list.
It’s not surprising that Expedia have included Reims in their guide to the world’s best sparkling wine regions. A wine trip to Reims fizzles with glamorous promise. Moët de Chandon, Veuve Clicquot… It’s like flicking through the drinks catalogue of an awards ceremony. Once you’ve swooned over the Champagne headliners, be sure to fold some culture into the mix. The Reims cathedral is an architectural wonder and the small town of Metz is great for museums and art galleries.
If Malbec is your poison, Mendoza is your dream wine destination ripe for the picking. Whether it’s eating, drinking or partying, nothing is done in moderation here, so expect to eat dinner at 10:00pm and come home bleary eyed at dawn. Save some energy (the daily siestas definitely help) for a dose of exploration — on horseback or on foot — through the bodegas, with the dramatic backdrop of the Andes as your compass. After a few days doing red, move onto sparkling white wine. Start with Cavas Rosell Boher and Bodega Cruzat, standout vineyards with an innovative approach that manifests in the adventurous grapes.
Western Cape, South Africa
Don’t allow South Africa’s limited export selection fool you into believing their offering is bargain basket fare. The complex and layered social history bleeds through the country’s hearty Shiraz and Pinot Noirs like nowhere else. Geographically speaking, you don’t have to venture too far from Cape Town to feel truly immersed in the aromatic flavours of the fragrant soil. Many wineries can be found just a 30-minute drive from the city. The region has clocked onto wine tourism too, providing cosy bed and breakfast accommodation and all the creature comforts you’d expect in a European winery. Treat yourself to stellar mountain vistas at Stellenbosch and marvel at the sustainable wine production values at Simonsig Wine Estate, which provides leadership training for its employees.
Germany has more than hops to get excited about, it’s a serious contender on the wine front too. Put their grapes to the test with an expedition from Frankfurt to Esslindon, where you’ll find the oldest Sekt (sparkling wine) producer in Germany. Kessler shifts over 1 million bottles of crisp bubbles worldwide, and it will take only one sip to see why. Once you’ve whet your appetite, seal your enthusiasm for the northern European grape with stopovers in Stuttgart, and its neighbouring Weingut Bergdolt winery. Seriously gut stuff.
King Valley, Australia
We can’t help but fall in love with the maverick wine farmers in Oz who consistently wield the most dramatic varieties of grape. For the most superior Prosecco, bookmark the Yering Station Winery, an hour’s drive away from Melbourne. This 43,000-acre vineyard is ripe for exploring the best sparkling wines, as well as mind-blowing Shiraz, Chardonnay and rosé. The hot days and cool nights mean you aren’t limited to the warmer Southern European varieties either, there are plenty of cold climate specialities to sample too.
Wine flows through practically every aspect of Italian culture making it a must-do destination for any global wine enthusiast. It’s best to think of region in a plural sense when you come here, because there is almost too much ground to cover. So once you’ve roamed Venice’s meandering streets hit the road and head further north for a special wine tasting at Bortolin, a forward-thinking winery which combines ancient tradition with cutting-edge production technology. Next, break up the countryside scenery with a stopover in Milan, before visiting Cantina Contratto for a flute of Prosecco fit for a king (the owners supply to the royal family and Vatican).