Exploring the World's Finest Wine Regions

2023-11-22 00:19:44 - Drany Macley Drany Macley, the senior editor of Vytravels.com, brings extensive journalism background and over eight years of experience in travel writing and editing to the site, offering practical insights and first-hand knowledge through articles on innovative hotels, backed by a BA in Journalism from Ithaca College.

Are you a wine lover in search of new adventures? Look no further! We've compiled the ultimate guide to the best wine regions to visit around the world, and trust us, it's not just about Napa Valley. From the stunning vineyards of Santorini, Greece, to the picturesque hills of the Texas Hill Country, we'll take you on a journey through the hidden gems of the wine world. So grab your glass, pack your bags, and let's explore these enticing destinations and their delectable wines together. Get ready to sip, savor, and discover the true essence of wine in these extraordinary places.

Ica Valley, Peru

Ica Valley, Peru is one of the best wine destinations for 2023.Credit: Leonid Andronov – Adobe Stock

Does Peru produce wine? The answer is quite complex. Peru has a long history of grape cultivation, dating back to the mid-1500s when Spanish settlers started planting vines in the country. Initially, the purpose was to produce wine. However, in 1614, King Philip IV prohibited the import of Peruvian wines due to concerns that they would compete with Spain's own wine industry. As a result, Peruvian producers turned to distilling the wines and created a type of brandy now known as pisco.

Over the past decade, Peru has become a culinary capital, with award-winning bars and restaurants embracing local products, including wine. As a result, more and more producers are rediscovering the art of still wine production and even championing native Peruvian grape varieties. While the famous Pisco Sour cocktail remains a favorite, it's time to shift our attention to the wines emerging from this nation.

The Ica Valley, known as the capital of pisco production, is a stunning oasis in the middle of a desert surrounded by sand dunes and palm trees. Here, visitors can enjoy exceptional pisco and wine from some of the country's most historic producers. There are even tours available that focus on both pisco and wine. A visit to Tacama is a must, as it is considered the oldest vineyard in South America. Additionally, Hacienda La Caravedo, established in 1684, is the oldest continuously operating distillery in the Americas. Both offer a complete experience, including a tour of the facilities and the opportunity to taste their delicious products.

Barossa Valley

Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Originally settled by German Lutherans in the 1830s, the influence of their wine knowledge is still evident in Australia's famous Barossa Valley. With over 80 wineries in the region, many of which have cellar doors open for tastings, Barossa Valley has become a household name in the world of wine. Jacob's Creek, Penfolds, and Wolf Blass are just a few of the well-known names that call this region home.

The Barossa Valley is a must-visit for those interested in wine, regardless of age. Entry is free, and visitors can explore the diverse range of wineries, enjoying tastings and experiencing the unique offerings of each. Whether you prefer red or white, the Barossa Valley has something to satisfy every palate.

Mendoza, Argentina

The rise of Argentina's wine industry has been truly remarkable. Just a few decades ago, their wines were considered subpar, but the country has since modernized its wineries and capitalized on the excellent conditions for growing the Malbec grape. Today, Malbec is synonymous with Argentina, but this country has much more to offer. From Bonarda to Tempranillo to Cabernet Sauvignon, there are several other exciting red varieties. Additionally, the Torrontes stands out as a primary white varietal.

During our visit to Mendoza, we embarked on two full days of winery tours, only scratching the surface of what this region has to offer. Our guide, Ivan, provided us with a wealth of information about the history of the area and the wineries we visited. One notable highlight was our tour with Trout & Wine, a company that keeps its tour groups small, creating an intimate and enjoyable atmosphere. They also have a wine club that ships to the U.S., adding to the convenience.

Willamette Valley, Oregon

For years, I have been a fan of Oregon's Pinot Noirs. So when planning a trip with my girlfriends, I suggested a visit to the Willamette Valley. Known for its picturesque landscapes, this region didn't disappoint. We paired our winery visits with the culinary delights, craft beer, and the unique charm of Portland, as well as some breathtaking waterfall hikes. It truly was an amazing experience. And the best part? The stunning Oregon coast is just a short drive away, making it a perfect addition to the itinerary.

The Willamette Valley has a distinct agricultural and rural feel. The rolling green fields are adorned with wildflowers, creating a bucolic backdrop for the wineries that call this region home. While Oregon wines are well-appreciated, the Willamette Valley remains an under-the-radar destination for wine enthusiasts. Despite some wineries becoming crowded on holidays, there are plenty to choose from, and their spread over a large area ensures a small and intimate feel.

California winery regions that *aren't* Napa

While Napa Valley may be the first place that comes to mind when considering California's wine regions, there are several other areas worth exploring. Sonoma County, stretching from just north of San Francisco to the edge of Napa, offers a wealth of wineries to discover. From Point Reyes/Bodega Bay to the Sonoma Coast, Russian River Valley, and more, this region is brimming with options. In addition to the wineries, Sonoma County boasts a fantastic culinary scene, craft beer, adorable towns, coastal views, and hiking opportunities.

Another hidden gem is the Central California coast, particularly the Edna Valley, Arroyo Grande, and Paso Robles areas. With around 250 wineries to choose from, this region offers a variety of vineyards and wine styles due to its diverse microclimates. The laid-back and authentic wine country experience, coupled with the region's scenic beauty, makes it a fantastic destination. Furthermore, the Central Coast offers beach views, hiking, cute towns, delicious food, and some of California's finest vineyards.

Texas Hill Country, Texas

Texas Hill Country, Texas is one of the top wine travel destinations for 2023.Credit: J. Amill Santiago via Unsplash

While Texas wines may not have gained nationwide recognition yet, Texas Hill Country is making a name for itself as a must-visit wine destination in the United States. Centered around Fredericksburg and conveniently located between Austin and San Antonio, this up-and-coming region offers a perfect stop for your next domestic vacation.

Texas Hill Country wineries have focused on their unique terroir and experimented with grape varieties that thrive in the area. The results speak for themselves. From elegant Sangioveses and Mouvèdre-based blends to bold Tempranillo and Tannat, there is an array of exciting wines to explore.

Visitors to Texas Hill Country can enjoy various wine-tasting experiences. For example, Sandy Road Vineyards offers private treehouse tastings overlooking the vineyard, while Slate Theory provides cave tastings in their underground cellars. The Passport Ticket program allows you to explore multiple wineries at your own pace, with complimentary tastings included in each ticket. October is Texas Wine Month, offering special events to celebrate local wines. After a day of winery visits, be sure to indulge in the local dining scene, including the award-winning Cabernet Grill, which boasts a vast selection of Texas wines.

Niagara Wine Region

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada

The Niagara Peninsula is home to Canada's oldest and most renowned vineyards, making it a world-class wine-producing region. For those looking to explore the region and taste exceptional wines, Niagara-on-the-Lake is the perfect base. Located just a short distance from Niagara Falls, this charming town offers a delightful experience.

The Niagara Peninsula provides a variety of wine-tasting opportunities, allowing visitors to tour vineyards and sample the region's finest wines. Whether you're a wine connoisseur or simply looking to enjoy the experience, Niagara Wine Region has something to offer.

Santa Ynez Valley, Calif.

Santa Ynez Valley, California is one of the best destinations for wine travel in 2023.Credit: Chuck Place – Adobe Stock

While many regions in California are overcrowded or prohibitively expensive (and sometimes both), the Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County has recently become a popular and accessible wine destination. Despite being known as the setting for the controversial wine movie "Sideways" in the charming Danish town of Solvang, the Santa Ynez Valley offers much more than just windmills and Pinot fanatics in 2023.

Santa Barbara County is located along the longest-transverse valley on the Pacific coast, allowing for cooling sea breezes that create an ideal environment for crafting elegant cool-climate wines. While winemakers in the Santa Ynez Valley continue to produce exceptional Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, they are also exploring lesser-known varieties like Syrah, Grenache, Grüner Veltliner, and Sangiovese, resulting in a diverse range of wines to discover.

The towns of Los Alamos and Los Olivos have become popular among tourists with their rustic cowboy charm and aesthetically pleasing tasting rooms, hotels, shops, and restaurants. For the perfect day in the Santa Ynez Valley, start with pastries at Bob's Well Bread Bakery in Los Alamos, and then visit local tasting rooms like A Tribute to Grace, Liquid Farm, Stolpman Vineyards, and Holus Bolus. Explore more local wine and beer selections at Bodega, and for some fun, head to Ostrichland. Finish off the evening with a delicious meal at Pico or Bell's, two outstanding restaurants putting Los Alamos on the culinary map.

If you're looking for a hotel that matches the vintage vibes of your vacation, check out Skyview Los Alamos, a refurbished motel with stunning desert views, a lovely pool, and a great on-site restaurant called Norman.

Auckland, New Zealand

Auckland, New Zealand is one of the best wine travel destinations for 2023.Credit: Sulthan Auliya via Unsplash

Not only can travelers now visit Auckland for the first time in years, but getting there has also become easier than ever thanks to a new nonstop flight route between New York and Auckland launched by Air New Zealand last year. Auckland, located on New Zealand's North Island, is not only an impressive culinary destination but also a great base for exploring the surrounding wine regions.

While in the city center, explore Auckland's diverse culinary offerings and local wines at restaurants and bars like Omni, Cazador, and La Fuente, which specializes in wine and mezcal. Make sure to book a hotel with waterfront views, such as The Hotel Britomart or QT Auckland, which features an expansive rooftop terrace.

In addition to the popular Sauvignon Blanc, the area offers a wide range of wines to explore, including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Sémillon, and Pinot Gris. When it comes to wine tasting, you can either drive about 30 minutes or book a tour to visit some of the quintessential estates in the wider Auckland area, such as Kumeu River Wines and Mazurans. Don't miss the opportunity to take a ferry to Waiheke Island and visit some of the region's best boutique wineries along the stunning beaches and vineyard-covered hills. Book a tasting at Goldie Estate, embark on a guided ebike tour of the farm and vineyards at Man O' War winery, or reserve an exclusive tasting dinner at Tantalus Estate for a complete wine experience.

Santorini, Greece

While Santorini is famous for its whitewashed buildings, blue domes, and rocky cliffs, its wineries often go unnoticed. However, the island has a rich wine history, with vineyards dating back to at least the 4th century B.C. Santorini's vineyards are the oldest in Greece, and its wines have been highly regarded for centuries.

One unique aspect of Santorini's vineyards is the way the vines are shaped. To protect them from the island's strong winds, the grapevines are pruned close to the ground in a coil or basket shape, providing a safe environment and helping retain moisture.

For more information about my visits to wineries in Santorini, click here!

10 of the best wine regions to visit that are often overlooked, under-the-radar wine tourism areas - Santorini's historic vineyards produce great wine

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Hvar, Croatia

Hvar, Croatia is one of the best destinations from wine travel for 2023.Credit: Marcus Löfvenberg via Unsplash

Located off the coast of Croatia, the island of Hvar is famous for its stunning beaches, vibrant nightlife, and abundant lavender, olive oil, and wine. As tourist numbers continue to rise in Croatia's major cities, Hvar offers a perfect beachside getaway.

Despite its small size, measuring just 40 miles long and five miles wide, Hvar has a culturally and historically significant wine industry. Viticulture on the island dates back to at least the 4th century B.C. The local red grape variety, Plavac Mali, dominates the plantings, creating fruit-forward red wines and elegant rosés with a peppery note. The region also produces delightful aromatic white wines from native grapes like Pošip and Bogdanusa.

Wineries are scattered around the outskirts of Hvar city, making it convenient to explore the island by renting a car or booking a boat tour to enjoy the crystal-clear waters and rocky cliffs of Hvar. Visit Vina Tomić for a tour of their newly built winery on a historic property and a guided tasting in their romantic candle-lit cellar. Don't miss the iconic Zlatan Otok winery, where you can wander through the vineyards by the seaside and indulge in local food and wine pairings at their restaurant. Make sure to bring a few bottles home, as Croatian wine can be hard to find in the U.S.

When it comes to accommodations, a range of luxury hotels have opened on the island in recent years. Large groups can enjoy a waterfront villa at Maslina Resort, while couples may prefer to stay at Hvar's newest luxury property, Moeesy, or the newly refurbished Beach Bay, the island's first sustainable hotel.

Loire Valley, France

The Loire Valley, France is one of the best wine travel destinations for 2023.Credit: Dorian Mongel via Unsplash

With its renowned wines such as Cabernet Franc from Chinon, Chenin Blanc from Saviennières, and Sauvignon Blanc from Sancerre, the Loire Valley has long been a popular destination for wine enthusiasts. In recent years, the region has seen a surge in tourism thanks to the opening of new luxury hotels and dining experiences, solidifying its place at the top of French travel itineraries.

The Fleur de Loire in Blois is at the heart of the Loire Valley's new hotel scene, offering a sprawling property with a stunning spa and a fine-dining restaurant helmed by renowned Michelin-starred chef Christophe Hey. The region is also home to charming castles that evoke a Renaissance-era ambiance, such as Château Louise de La Vallière and Château Amboise. For a more rustic experience, consider booking a cozy woodland getaway at one of the newly opened Loire Valley Lodges outside Tours.

Cycling is a popular way to explore the meandering valley, allowing for strategic stops at local producers along the countryside. Alternatively, you can take a boat tour to enjoy the scenery along the Loire, France's longest river. Many wineries require appointments for tastings, so plan your route in advance. Some notable domaines to consider include Domaine Huet in Vouvray, Domaine Amirault in Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil, Domaine Bobinet in Saumur, and the renowned Domaine Olga Raffault in Chinon. For sparkling wine lovers, Langlois-Chateau and Bouvet Ladubay offer fantastic Crémant de Loire selections.

Don't forget to make a stop in Chavignol to try the region's famous Crottin de Chavignol goat cheese. Enjoying Sauvignon Blanc while watching goats roam the vineyards is the epitome of a trip to the Loire.

Provence

Provence, France

Sunny Provence has been producing wine since the Ancient Greeks introduced grapes to the region around 600 BC. Today, Provence is known for its prestigious Cotes du Rhone wines, including the reds of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas, and Beaumes-de-Venise. These wines are produced north of Avignon.

Best for ages: 18 | Free

The beautiful town of Assmannshausen on the Rhine on a beautiful autumn day

Bordeaux

Bordeaux, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

The Bordeaux region is renowned as the world's premier wine region, known for producing stratospherically priced Grand Cru reds. With 8,500 estates (chateaux) to visit, it is a must-see destination for wine lovers. In addition to touring the old chateaux, don't miss the opportunity to visit the open-air markets and indulge in exceptional food paired with world-class wine.

Best for ages: 18 | £40

The wine estate on a summers day

Rheingau

Rhineland, Hessen, Germany

Germany's best wine region, the steep, south-facing slopes of the Rhine, is renowned for producing the finest Riesling wines in the world. This picturesque region, filled with vineyards, is also home to famous Rhineland castles, traditional wine taverns, and numerous hiking and cycling trails.

Best for ages: 18 | Free

view of a neatly planted vineyard with lines of vines. a small town is behind

Germany

Germany is well-known for its beer, but it also produces wine. The country's top wine regions are located in the west along the Rhine River. In recent years, due to climate change, the wine areas in Burgundy, Barolo, and Rhine Valley have been expanding. Germany is particularly known for its white wines, especially the Riesling variety.

Rheinhessen

Rheinhessen is a valley in Germany that produces one-fourth of the country's wine. It is also home to the largest acreage of the Silvaner variety, which is an ancient white wine grape known for its neutral scent.

Pfalz

Pfalz is a key wine region in Germany, located below Rheinhessen and west of the Rhine River. It covers an area of 58,000 acres and is known for producing some of the finest Pinot Noir and Riesling in the country. The region has so many vineyards that there are 600 vines for every person living there.

Nahe

Nahe is a German wine region named after the river that merges with the Rhine at Bingen. It is one of the smaller regions in Germany but focuses on white wine production, particularly Riesling, which accounts for 82% of its wine production. Historically, this region was neglected by Roman viticulturists, but its significance became apparent in the 19th century, and it was officially established in 1931.

Mosel

Mosel is the third most productive wine region in Germany and is located along the Mosel river. It is renowned for its Riesling wines, which are considered some of the best in the world. The vineyards in this region are situated on steep slopes that overlook the river, with inclines reaching up to 75 degrees. The rivers help radiate the sun's heat onto the grapes, and the black soil absorbs heat during the night, creating optimal conditions for grape growth.

Italy

Italy is the largest producer of wine in the world. The country is divided into 20 regions that collectively cover a total area of 1,730,000 acres dedicated to Italian wine production.

Piedmont

Piedmont is the second-largest region in Italy, after Sicily, and is known for producing the signature Barolo wine made from the Nebbiolo grape. The region is located near the borders of France and Switzerland, surrounded by the Alps. Its name translates to "at the foot of the mountains," reflecting its geography.

Barbaresco wine is also made from the same grapes as Barolo. While similar, Barbaresco has a slightly warmer, drier, and milder maritime climate compared to Barolo.

In Piedmont, the combination of cold air from the mountains and the warmth from the Mediterranean creates a fog that blocks out sunlight. This makes areas with high altitudes ideal for viticulture. The Po Valley occupies a large portion of the region, leaving only 30% of land suitable for wine production.

Tuscany

Tuscany is a region in Italy known for its poor soil, which results in the production of mainly red wines. The most prominent grape variety in the region is Sangiovese, which is used in the production of various Tuscan wines.

Italy is also the birthplace of "Super Tuscan" wines, which are unofficially categorized and not recognized by the Italian wine system. These wines are typically blends inspired by Bordeaux wines. The creation of Super Tuscans dates back to 1971 when producers wanted to produce higher-quality wines outside the regulations of the time. Eventually, regulations changed to accommodate and classify Super Tuscan wines under new regulations, and one of the pioneers of this style, Sassicaia, received its own designation "Bolgheri Sassicaia."

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Sicily

Sicilian wine has been produced in the region for thousands of years. The forgiving climate of Sicily allows for high yields and bulk wine production, which was historically shipped to Europe and other regions to enhance weaker wines. Marsala wine, a fortified sweet wine, was particularly popular in Sicily. However, the region has now expanded its wine varieties to include grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, and Chardonnay.

Spain

Located in a valley in North Central Spain, Rioja is considered one of the top wine regions in the country. It is divided into three sections: Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa, and Rioja Baja. Each section has different geographical features and soil compositions. The region is influenced by the Cantabrian Mountains, which provide moderation.

The wines produced in Rioja were once referred to as "Vin Joven" or young wines. They are made in various styles, with different aging periods in barrels and bottles. The highest-quality style is called "Gran Reserva," which spends a minimum of 2 years in barrels and 3 years in bottles. White wines from the region must age for 4 years, with at least 12 months in barrels.

Portugal

Portugal offers a variety of wine-growing opportunities due to its temperate maritime climate and diverse terroir. The country produces an annual average of 500 to 600 liters of wine.

Duoro Valley is home to Portugal's most famous and widely copied wine, Port, which is a fortified sweet wine. The valley also produces other wine varieties such as White Port, Pink Port, Tinto Douro, and Douro Branco.

Puglia, Italy

Puglia, Italy is one of the best destinations for wine travel in 2023.Credit: Alessio Roversi via Unsplash

Puglia, located in southern Italy, has gained attention as a wine destination in recent years. While Puglia is known for its iconic white trulli houses, handcrafted orecchiette pasta, creamy burrata cheese, and high-quality olive oil production, it is now recognized for its wines as well.

Historically, Puglia was primarily known as a bulk wine producer, with many vineyards sending their wines to northern Italy. However, in the late 1900s, producers in Puglia began bottling and labeling their wines under the region's name. Marchesi Antinori played a significant role in this transformation by founding the Tormaresca winery in 1998. Today, visitors can enjoy unique Negroamaro rosés, lush Primitivos, and deep Aglianicos while exploring the region's picturesque coastline and savoring local cuisine.

To make the most of a trip to Puglia, it is recommended to drive between vineyards or book a guided tour. Notable vineyards to visit include Tormaresca's Bocca di Lupo vineyard, the historic Leone de Castris estate, and Polaverna, where guests can experience a tasting highlighting the distinct soil types of Puglia.

Borgo Egnazia, a renowned hotel, has put Puglia on the map for travelers. In addition to luxury amenities, dining options, and wellness activities, the hotel also hosts various festivals throughout the year, celebrating the region's rich traditions.

Setúbal, Portugal

Setúbal, Portugal is one of the best wine travel destinations for 2023.Credit: Carolina Contreiras via Unsplash

Portugal has become a popular travel destination, with cities like Lisbon, Sintra, and Porto attracting visitors from around the world. The country's wines have also gained recognition for their quality and value. While regions like the Douro Valley, Vinho Verde, and Alentejo have become well-known, there are still hidden gems to discover, including the Setúbal Peninsula.

The Setúbal Peninsula is located just a short drive from Lisbon and is known for its fortified wines made with Moscatel grapes. Moscatel de Setúbal offers complexity and affordability, although it often remains overshadowed by renowned fortified wines like Port and Madeira. The region also produces excellent dry wines, including aromatic whites made from Moscatel and bold, juicy reds made from the native Castelão grape.

Exploring the Setúbal Peninsula can involve visiting local wineries such as Quinta do Piloto and the historic estate of José Maria da Fonseca. In addition to wine experiences, visitors can enjoy the region's beautiful beaches, natural landscapes in the Serra da Arrábida, seafood specialties, the tangy Queijo Azeitão cheese, and historic sites like the Castelo de Palmela.

France

France has a long history of winemaking, dating back thousands of years. It is the largest consumer of wine per capita in the world and is home to over 200 different French wine varieties. Each year, France produces an impressive 50 to 60 million hectoliters of wine, which equates to 7 to 8 billion bottles!

Rhône Valley

Stretching for approximately 150 miles, the Rhône Valley is a region with diverse soil that is perfect for growing a wide variety of wine grapes. One of the most prominent grapes grown here is Syrah, which can be found in both the northern and southern parts of the valley. Wines from the northern area tend to have a more savory profile, while those from the south specialize in fruity Grenache-Syrah blends or white Marsanne blends.

Bordeaux

Located in southern France, Bordeaux is one of the most famous wine regions in the world. It boasts 290,000 acres of vineyards, which are divided by the rivers that flow through the region. The Gironde and Garonne rivers create a left bank, while the Dordogne river forms a right bank. The area between the two rivers is known as "Entre Deux Mers," which translates to "between two seas." Bordeaux is known for producing predominantly dry, medium- to full-bodied red blends.

Burgundy

Burgundy, located in eastern France, is known for focusing on two main grape varieties: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. These two grapes make up 98% of the region's wine production. The winemaking process in Burgundy is highly collaborative, with negociants purchasing grapes or wine from smaller producers to further age and produce their own wines. Additionally, groups of grape growers have come together to establish wineries for collective use. It is less common for producers in Burgundy to own both vineyards and wineries due to the high cost of building and maintaining wineries.

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Champagne

The term "Champagne" is often used to refer to sparkling wine from around the world. However, in the European Union, it is illegal to label any product as Champagne unless it originates from the wine region in Northeast France. The Champagne region is slightly cooler than other French wine regions, making it ideal for producing sparkling wines. Some of the grape varieties used in Champagne production include Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay.

Loire

The Loire Valley, located in western France, is known for its wide range of wine styles. This region produces 4 million hectoliters of wine per year. Some of the notable wines produced here include sparkling Vouvray, tannic red Chinon, and light Muscadets. While the Loire Valley offers a variety of wines, its primary emphasis is on white wines such as Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc, which make up the majority of the region's production. Cabernet Franc is also grown here.

South Africa

With a wine-making history of over 300 years, South Africa is known for producing exceptional wines. The Mediterranean climate in regions like Stellenbosch has allowed the country to establish some of the finest vineyards in the world.

The majority of South Africa's wine industry is located in the Western Cape region. Notably, the Stellenbosch and Paarl regions are renowned for their Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards, which are often used in Bordeaux blends.

Australia

Australia, known for its top-quality vineyards, is located "down under." One of the most popular wines from Australia is the Shiraz, which refers to the Syrah grape varietal. One advantage of Australia's isolation is that its vineyards have been spared from grape phylloxera infestation, making the vines among the oldest in the world.

The Barossa Valley, located in South Australia, is the largest of Australia's three main wine-growing regions. It is home to over 80 cellars and is particularly known for its warm-climate grape varieties, such as Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.

USA

California

California is the largest wine-producing state in the country, with a vast coastal area that spans ten degrees of latitude. This geographical diversity allows winemakers in California to select from a variety of different territories, resulting in a wide range of wines. With numerous grape varieties grown in the state, Sonoma County is known for its sparkling wines, Pinot Noir, and Zinfandel, each tailored to specific climates. The Napa Valley region has become a popular destination for French Champagne houses due to its diverse microclimates for winemaking.

Oregon

Oregon is home to some of the world's youngest vineyards, with the most notable being the Willamette Valley. This region is particularly renowned for its production of Pinot Noir. The 150-mile valley was once a seabed that had its soil enriched by the Missoula Floods. With its dry and warm summer tempered climate, the Willamette Valley is ideal for growing the delicate and cool climate grapes necessary for producing high-quality wines.

New York

New York is home to the oldest continuously operating winery in the United States and is the third-largest wine producer in the country. The state offers multiple areas suitable for wine production. The Finger Lakes region is known for its Riesling wines, while Long Island vineyards excel in producing Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc.

Beaujolais

Lyon, Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes, France

Just north of the culinary capital, Lyon, lies the stunning Beaujolais region. Covering 14,500 hectares of peaceful hills, this area is home to 12 appellations, known for producing well-known wines such as Fleury, Brouilly, and Morgon. The picturesque rural setting allows visitors to drive along a 140km circular wine route, stopping at various wineries for tours and tastings.

Best for ages: 18 | Free

Rioja

La Rioja, Spain

Bordering the beautiful Basque Country in northern Spain, Rioja is a globally recognized wine region. Renowned for its rich and robust red wines, as well as lesser-known white wines, Rioja offers visitors the opportunity to explore its vineyards and enjoy the dynamic gastronomy of nearby San Sebastian.

Best for ages: 18 | Free

Slovenia

By a stroke of luck, Slovenia was my first winery visit in early 2014, and it sparked my love for wine tourism. Slovenia offers underrated and off-the-beaten-path wine regions. On a visit to the coastal town of Piran, we drove up into the hills for an afternoon of Slovenian wine. We had the pleasure of visiting Rojac, a family-owned winery run by Sonja and Uroš. We toured their facilities, tasted their wines, and learned about their lives. It was an intimate and authentic experience that truly captured the essence of Slovenian wine culture.

If you're interested, you can read more about our visit with the Rojac family at their winery [here](https://www.onegirlwholeworld.com/europe/slovenian-wine-rojac-winery/).

10  of the best wine regions to visit that are often overlooked, under-the-radar wine tourism areas - visiting a family-run winery in Slovenia

Slovenia is worth a visit not only for its wine but also for its beautiful scenery. It's a hidden gem that combines the best of Austria and Italy. Don't miss out on exploring this incredible wine destination!

If you're interested, you can also check out my entire 3-day Slovenia road trip itinerary [here](https://www.onegirlwholeworld.com/europe/what-to-do-in-slovenia-itinerary/).

Piran, Slovenia

You might also be interested in my travel FAQ about things you might not know about your credit card. Check it out [here](https://www.onegirlwholeworld.com/travel-tips-tricks/best-credit-card-benefits/).

Kakheti, Georgia

Kakheti, Georgia is one of the best wine travel destinations for 2023.Credit: Lera Borisova via UnSplash

Skin-contact wines, amphora aging, and low-intervention winemaking techniques. All of these current wine trends can be traced back to the ancient winemaking practices of Georgia. It's no wonder that the region is currently so popular. Georgia has a winemaking history that spans over 8,000 years and is often referred to as the "birthplace of wine." Georgian wine is rapidly gaining popularity, with exports growing at record-breaking speed each year. In fact, there has been a 7.81 percent spike in exports to the U.S. Georgia's popularity has also led to an increase in tourism and immigration, which has bolstered its national economy. If you're a fan of amber wine, now is the time to visit Georgia before prices start to rise.

There is no better place to immerse yourself in Georgian wine than Kakheti, the country's premier wine-producing region. Located an hour's drive from Tbilisi in eastern Georgia, this warm-climate region is home to the iconic native grapes, Saperavi and Rkatsiteli. The region is known for its famed amber wines, which are made from local white grapes fermented in clay amphorae called qvevri. This unique process gives the wines a savory and complex profile, as well as a distinctive amber color. The qvevri winemaking tradition of Kakheti is even listed as a UNESCO World Heritage tradition, and many wineries allow visitors to observe this ancient technique.

Some must-visit properties in Kakheti include Vazisubani Estate, Kardanakhi Wine Factory, and Akido. These wineries offer guided tastings surrounded by stunning vineyards. If you're interested in natural winemaking, Pheasant's Tears winery and restaurant is a great place to visit. For larger groups, the estate's newly opened restaurant, Crazy Pomegranate, curates private wine pairing dinners using ingredients from its farm. If you want to explore Georgia's unique cuisine, book a local cooking class where you can learn how to make khachapuri and seasonal dishes in the middle of an organic garden.

When it comes to accommodation, Kakheti offers a range of options. From sprawling historic estates to quaint inns with local character, there is something for everyone. Consider staying at Lost Ridge, which functions as an inn, a craft brewery, and a horse ranch for a truly unique experience. Alternatively, Tsinandali Estate is a landmark in Georgia. Originally built in 1886 and once owned by Prince Alexander Chavchavadze, this recently renovated hotel also houses the A. Chavchavadze Museum. Guests can explore vineyards, taste the wine, and even tour Prince Alexander Chavchavadze's personal wine cellar, which holds over 15,000 bottles dating back to 1814.

Whether you're a seasoned wine connoisseur or simply enjoy a glass now and then, these wine regions are sure to leave a lasting impression. From the stunning Ica Valley in Peru to the picturesque Loire Valley in France, there is a destination to suit every wine lover's taste. Indulge in the rich and robust flavors of Argentina's Mendoza region, or explore the unique vineyards of Santorini in Greece. Whether you choose to sip your way through California's lesser-known winery regions or venture to the rolling hills of Tuscany in Italy, one thing is for certain - these top wine regions will provide a wine-tasting experience unlike any other. So pack your bags and raise your glass, because these wine regions are waiting to be explored.

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