For some travellers, one of the best ways to experience new countries and cultures is by indulging in local food and wines. Some of the most memorable holiday experiences are created around local cuisine and wine. Gastronomic tourism allows you to experience local culture through great food and wine, all the while enjoying beautiful surroundings and creating memorable holiday experiences. More specifically, vinitourism allows travellers to combine the pleasures of travel with the joys of fine wine, so if your idea of the perfect holidays is touring wineries in Bordeaux or Napa Valley, read on. For those vinitourism enthusiasts, here is a list of my favourite wine-producing regions around the world.
In the eastern foothills of the Andes Mountains, close to the Chilean border, is Argentina’s wine growing region of Mendoza. If you enjoy Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo and Chardonnay then you should consider staying in a Mendoza holiday rental in spring (September to November) or autumn (March to May). During the week you can take a guided tour of the wineries, or get a map, hire a car and explore Argentina’s most important wine-producing region at your own pace. Most wineries are closed on weekends.
Italy has several fabulous wine-producing regions, but my favourite is without a doubt Tuscany. Extending from central Italy to the Mediterranean coast in the west, Tuscany serves up some fantastic wines. The vineyards here are notable for Sangiovese grapes that produce Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. You’ll also find Vernaccia, Cabernet franc, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot noir and Sauvignon blanc here. There is also an excellent desert wine, Vio Santo, which is a blend of grapes from different parts of Tuscany. The best time to visit the rolling hills of Tuscany is from September to October when the harvest is taking place and there is plenty to see and do. Just take note that most Tuscan wineries are not open to the public. You have to arrange a private wine-tasting, or join a tour.
Barossa Valley, Australia
35 miles northeast of the city of Adelaide, you’ll find Barossa Valley, one of Australia’s oldest wine regions. The region is famous for its very distinctive Barossa Shiraz, a full bodied red wine with notes of chocolate and spice. Although you can take an organized wine tour of the region, the best way to explore the wineries is to get a winery map from Tourism Barossa and hire a car. Just be sure to call ahead to check if they’re open, and make sure your route includes a drive up to Mengler Hill, which has some spectacular views of the valley. The best time to visit Barossa Valley is September to November (Spring) or March to May (Autumn).
Cape Winelands, South Africa
The Cape Winelands area of South Africa includes the Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek valleys. Located approximately 30 miles from Cape Town, the Cape Winelands are famous for its beauty. The Mediterranean climate and variety of soils in the area make it the perfect region for viticulture, and has helped South Africa gain recognition is one of the world’s top 10 wine-producing regions. Chenin blanc, Sauvignon blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and South Africa’s signature Pinotage are popular grapes grown in the region. The best time to drive the Stellenbosch Wine Route is November to April when the weather is delightfully warm.
Douro Valley, Portugal
Portuguese wine tasting holidays are an ideal way to combine gastronomic tourism with culture and sunshine. Portugal’s Douro Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the wine industry is flourishing, making it the perfect place to taste some of Portugal’s best wines. The steeply-terraced vineyards are planted with a wide variety of grapes and as a result the region produces a wide variety of wines, from Bordeaux style claret to rich Burgundian style wines. The region also has a sterling reputation for its Port. September is the ideal month to visit Douro Valley. You’ll avoid the summer crowds, and you’ll get to watch the harvest.
If you want more ideas for wine tasting holidays around the world visit our travel guides.
So what are your favourite wine regions?