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Top Wine Regions in the World

Editor’s Note: the top wine regions of the world may be somewhat debatable, but true wine enthusiasts know that all the fertilizer, love and care won’t allow second-rate vineyards and wineries to compete with those in the best wine and Champagne grape growing areas of the world. This guest post from contributor TrekityGal helps explain what makes these wine regions great for romantic getaway travel — along with some useful tips to best take advantage of your vacation there. Enjoy!

Napa Valley California Wine Region (Jennifer Miner)

Picture it…Green rolling hills blanket the landscape, the warm sun kisses your shoulders, and a sweet and fruity white swishes around your mouth.

Ahhh, wine tasting. It’s a wine wonderland and the ultimate adult playground.

So, listen up ladies…

Whether you’re looking for a girlfriend getaway or are dropping hits for a romantic trip with your man, these five wine regions should be on the top of your list.

Napa Valley, California

 

As a California native, I’ve tasted wine in Napa more times than I like to admit. Napa is most famous for Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Zinfandel.

Location

Napa Valley is conveniently located an hour and a half northeast from San Francisco Airport.  You can either drive through the city and over the Golden Gate Bridge (plan for traffic) or zip through Oakland (faster route).

When to Go

The best time to visit Napa Valley is from April to June when the weather is near perfect and the vines are bright green or September to October when the vines are turning a beautiful autumn color and it’s crush time.

Where to Go

Start your route at the Downtown Napa visitor center where you can pick up free wine tasting coupons. At $10-25 a tasting, these can save you some serious bucks. Then head north on Highway 29 or the Silver Oak Trail towards Calistoga.

Favorite Wineries (South to North)

  • Silver Oak (Taste a $100+ bottle of wine for $10.)
  • Duck Horn (Sip delicious red on a nice porch overlooking a vineyard.)
  • Mumm (For some bubbly.)
  • Sterling (Take a gondola to the tasting room at the top of the hill for amazing views of Napa Valley.)

Print the Napa Valley Wine Map for the main wineries in the region.

Duckhorn Winery
Photo credit: Terence Yi

 

Mendoza, Argentina

Back-dropped by the Andes in the East, Mendoza is covered by Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo and Chardonnay vineyards that account for two-thirds of Argentina’s sweet, delicious wine.

Location

Mendoza is located in the eastern portion of Argentina, 745 miles (1,195 km) from Buenos Aires. Flights and buses depart daily.

When to Go

The best time to visit Mendoza is from September to November (Spring) or March to May (Fall) as the weather is pleasant and not too hot or cold.

Where to Go

To test the waters and wine, check out Vines of Mendoza Tasting Room  for an overview of Mendoza’s wines. From there, you can sample local wines and decide if you want to visit their tasting rooms.

The most popular regions are Maipu and Lujan de Cuyo. You can get there on a wine tour (somewhat limiting) or wing-it on public†transportation.

Tip

Most wineries are closed on the weekends so plan your trip accordingly.

Sunrise in Mendoza
Photo credit: tony.bailey

 

Champagne Region, France

In 2009, my girlfriend and I were in France on a business trip. We decided to take a trip to Champagne for the day and it was literally the best thing we did in all of France. The sparkling wine from Champagne is out of this world!

Location

From Paris, you can take a quick and beautiful two-hour train ride east to Reims (or Rheims).

When to Go

The best time to visit Champagne is April, May, September or October. Summer in Paris and surrounding areas is peak-season and the crowds are ridiculous.

Where to Go

Head to the city of Reims as four of the best wineries are within walking distance. Be sure wear comfortable shoes or take a taxis if you get too tipsy.

Favorite Bubble-ries (is that a word?)

  • Mumm
  • Veuve Cliquot
  • Taittinger
  • Pommery

Check out a Google map  for a great walking tour to these four wineries.

Bacchus
Photo credit: EverJean

 

Barossa Valley, Australia

The Barossa Valley in southern Australia is known for their award winning Shiraz, but Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Mataro, and Merlot are common as well.

Location

Barossa Valley is located 830 miles (1,340km) west of Sydney and 37 miles (60km) northeast of†Adelaide in southern Australia. Chances are you’ll catch a connecting flight from Sydney to Adelaide.

When to Go

The best weather in Barossa Valley is from September to November (Spring) or March to May (Autumn). †The colors in Autumn are brilliant and every odd year (e.g. 2013, 2015, etc) there’s the Barossa Vintage Festival at the end of April and beginning of May.

Where to Go

Keep in mind that roughly only half of the wineries in Barossa Valley have tasting rooms that are open to the public. Some wineries include Cellar Jacob’s Creek, Peter Lehmann, Saltram, Henschke, and St Hallett, just to name a few.

To help plan your†itinerary, check out the Barossa Valley maps.

Tip

Head up to Mengler Hill for amazing views of the valley.

On The Farm - 059
Photo credit: Kyle Taylor, Dream It. Do It. World Tour

 

Stellenbosch, South Africa

Stellenbosch is know for their world-famous Cabernet Sauvignons, Merlots, Pinotages and Shirazs.

Location

Stellenbosch is conveniently located just 45 minutes from Cape Town. If you want more freedom, consider renting a car and driving yourself. Some of the guided tours from Cape Town are limited.

When to Go

The best time to visit Stellenbosch is during the summer (November to April) when the weather is warm and beautiful. Generally, the harvest happens in February and March.

Where to Go

Some great wineries and tasting rooms in Stellenbosch are Tokara Estates, Rustenburg, Rust en Verde, Warwick, and L’Avenir. Boekenhoutskloof and De Trafford are further out, but worth a visit.

For more information, visit the Wine Route.


Photo credit: warrenski

That wraps up the top five wine regions around the world! Start sipping, enjoy yourself and drink responsibly.

TrekityGal Darcie Connell is the co-founder of Trekity.com, a cool new travel site, and TravelBloggerAcademy.com, where regular people can learn how to start travel blogging.

 

29 Responses to “Top Wine Regions in the World”

  1. 1
    Amy Anderson says:

    Mmmmm…. wine. Never even thought about wine in South Africa!

  2. 2

    I think about wine all over the world. Hee hee! Hope you enjoyed it.

  3. 3
    Adam Costa says:

    I’m thinking about wine right now ;)

    My favorite region thus far is Napa, but totally stoked to check out Mendoza, Argentina in a few months.

  4. 4
    Mama Bub says:

    Well, there’s another reason to add a trip to Australia to our MUST DO list.

  5. 5
    Nancy Todd says:

    Love your list. The Penedes wine region outside of Barcelona produces really great wines also!

  6. 6
    Desiree Eaglin says:

    I love wine tasting! Great pics and advice too, thanks!

  7. 7
    Mariano says:

    Mendoza is the center of Argentina’s wine industry and accounts for approximately 70% of the country’s total output. Nearly all the major wineries are concentrated in this province. Its signature grape is the Malbec. The climate and terroir in Mendoza are the ideal setting for the full expression of this grape variety. The beauty of Mendoza’s downtown is phenomenal. What is most peculiar is its network of water canals that have transformed what was an arid region into an awesome spectacle of blossoming trees that completely surround the city.

  8. 8

    Love Napa Valley, it’s Disney for me!

  9. 9

    I just read today that the new hot spot for vineyards is BAJA CALIFORNIA! Can you believe? That’s practically in my own backyard.

  10. 10

    What a wonderful description of all these places – I’m bookmarking this STAT! The only one of these I knew anything about was Napa. Can’t wait to add the other locales to my life “to-do” list!

  11. 11
    Jeremy Branham says:

    I knew France and Napa would be on here. I would add an underrated wine region to this list as well – Hungary. Great wine growing region and while not as popular as others, definitely worth sampling if you are close to Budapest.

    • 11.1

      Wow… excellent tip! My best-friend is Hungarian and we spent a month there back in 2000. Sure wished we had gone wine tasting. Next time. Thanks!

  12. 12
    Jamie says:

    I’ve actually been to 3 of the 5! (that never happens so this is kind of exciting for me)….I’ve heard of Argentina wine country and would love to go!

  13. 13

    One can dream…. in the mean time, Temecula or Santa Barbara are my local go-to wine regions. If I can’t make it there, I can always pick up these delicious bottles at BevMo and travel there in my mind.

  14. 14

    Pics alone make me want to visit these wine growing regions. Went wine tasting in the Douro Valley, Portugal last year – magic! Can recommend a trip. Start in Porto with visit(s) to famous port lodges then by car, train or boat along River Douro Valley to wine growing region. This is one of the small wineries: http://theonlinetraveljournal.com/douro-valley/quinta-vale-d-maria/

  15. 15
    Caryn B says:

    Sending to my hubby : ) Great photos and having been to Napa, we are anxious to visit the others you featured : )

  16. 16
    Sandra Foyt says:

    You’ve given me another reason to return to my homelands of Argentina. But I’d like to add that the Malbec is especially tasty with a churrasco.

  17. 17

    I love Mendoza! I spent a year there in my 20′s and it is an amazing place.

  18. 18

    Now that’s a list to fill senses eh? Thanks for putting it together. I don’t think there’s a single vineyard or tipple I’d turn down in any of those regions. Sideways? I definitely wouldn’t be upright!

  19. 19
    Aimee says:

    What an excellent description of these locations and what a fantastic adventure it would be to travel to all of them. I love that you have specified which vineyards to visit when travelling through these regions. I travelled to the Barossa Valley with my girlfriends last November. It was fantastic and we were considering going back but reading you’re blog has convinced me to add France and the Napa Valley to my bucket list!

  20. 20
    Rebecca says:

    Great list of the best wine regions to vist! Will be forwarding this to our travellers looking for a great getaway. Glad to see more options than the typical California aka Argentina and South Africa may not be something people would think of!

  21. 21
    Thomas says:

    When in Napa you must stay at the Napa Inn

    http://mail.bescover.com/napa/napa-inn

    It is romantic and luxurious, and they have candlight breakfast. I definately recommend it!

  22. 22
    Bescoverer says:

    This looks so great! If you are looking for some great hospitality in your travels, you should check out Bescover.com. It has the best Bed and Breakfast in your area.

  23. 23
    Jacqueline says:

    The article on was very helpful for a first-timer making plans to visit Napa Valley for wine tasting. I will make sure to get the wine tasting coupons at the visitors center as well. Great tip! Thanks.

  24. 24
    brandy bell says:

    great round up, Darcie :) sounds like one of the better ways to see the world!

  25. 25
    Peggy says:

    Mendoza is a great area – not just wine tasting but also white water rafting, horse riding and camping out in the great Argentinean outdoors. Absolutely fabulous! http://takingtotheopenroad.com/2012/02/04/mendoza-hostel-lao-horse-riding-and-wine-drinking/

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