Wine is a product like no other. It can tell the story of a region, it can encapsulate the unique features of its climate, the stories of those who made it and their craftsmanship. The following premier wine-producing regions offer extraordinary landscapes, intriguing history and the best wines in the world. What more could a wine-loving traveller ask for?
France is one of the first countries that comes to mind when you think of good wine. And there is one place in particular that stands out – Bordeaux. Located in the southwestern part of France, Bordeaux is one of the largest wine regions in Europe. It grows both white and red grapes and some of the most famous and expensive wines are produced here: Château Lafite-Rothschild, Château Margaux, Château Latour, Château Haut-Brion and Château Mouton-Rothschild.
One place that should not be missed in Bordeaux is Saint-Emilion, a medieval town, very well preserved, listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999. It is surrounded by over 5000 hectares of vines, beautiful chateaus and vineyards.
Piedmont (Piemonte in Italian) gained a well-deserved place among the world’s finest wine regions. Located in northwest Italy, at the foot of the Western Alps, Piedmont is home to well-known and respected wine names such as Barolo, Barbaresco or Barbera d’Asti.
Piedmont is often described as the “Burgundy” of Italy, because of its small, family owned wineries, picturesque sceneries and a clear focus on quality. The region’s most widely planted grape and one that is largely known for its quality is Nebbiolo.
This region is famous not only for its wines, but also for its outstanding gastronomy – Piedmont is home to the famous white truffle. This is one of the reasons why gourmet travellers and wine enthusiasts travel here from all over the world to simply delight themselves with local food and enjoy a glass of fine wine.
The Alentejo region in Portugal is known for having good wine all year long. However, in order to live the full experience, it would be best to visit during Festa da Vinha e do Vinho (Festival of the Vine and Wine), which takes place every November.
There are more than 250 wine producers in Alentejo so you will have plenty of wines to choose from. Aside from vineyards and wine tasting, you can also discover more about the local history and culture by visiting Redondo and checking out Enoteca and the Museum do Vinho.
La Rioja, Spain
La Rioja is a wine region in northern Spain. The most abundant red grape here is the Tempranillo and in terms of white grapes, Viura dominates the region’s vineyards.
The region is divided into three parts, each with a distinct personality. Rioja Alta is known for the oldest vineyards and the town of Haro, where a famous wine festival takes place. Rioja Alavesa is part of the Spanish Basque country and lastly, Rioja Baja, located in the south east, is a vast and arid region, well-know for being the place were the largest dinosaur footprint in Europe was discovered.
Besides the great wines, this region is a delight due to its beautiful medieval villages, endless vineyards and olive groves and clear blue skies.
This list wouldn’t have been complete without Tuscany. Located in the heart of Italy, this place is best known for its scenic landscapes, artistic heritage and amazing cities such as Florence.
The countryside, however, is where the real charm lies. Rolling hills, vineyards, medieval stone towns create a perfect picture, one that will surely be hard to forget, especially if celebrated with a glass of Tuscan wine in hand.
This Mediterranean region has long been a producer of wine and there are notable names that originated here: Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Vernaccia di San Gimignano and the dessert wine Vin Santo.
If you plan to travel in the area, make sure to also check the Tuscan Archipelago, a region surrounded by crystal seas and sandy beaches.
Although best known for its beautiful beaches and picturesque villages, Santorini is also Greece’s most prominent wine region and also home to the oldest vineyards in Europe.
The island’s flagship grape is Assyrtiko and there are three classifications of the wines: Santorini, Vinsanto and Nykteri. Santorini contains at least 75% of Assyrtiko grape, while Visanto wines are made up of natural sugar and acids of the late harvested grapes, that have been sun dried for over 2 weeks and Nyketeri wines are made from grapes that are harvested at night, in order to avoid hot temperatures.
Santorini produces a variety of red and white wines, but the most famous is the white wine called Vin Santo, labeled Vinsanto so as not to be confused with the Tuscan wine.
Just imagine enjoying a glass of your favourite wine, while overlooking the clear blue waters.
Champagne is one of the most popular wine regions in France, with a long history in the wine industry. Because of its cold climate, the grapes often don’t ripen fully, therefore they have a certain sharp acidity, ideal for making sparkling wine.
However, Champagne doesn’t only produce sparkling wines, but also a few still ones. The most famous are the pink wines, which are made with red grapes such as Pinot Noir and Pinot, Moët & Chandon or G.H. Mumm.
While you are here, visit the oldest champagne house still in operation, Gosset, which was founded in 1584 and explore some of the wine cellars that were dug below the city centuries ago.
The climate in Catalonia, Spain is perfect for growing abundant vineyards. The sun shines all year long here, even in winter. During summertime, the temperature is moderate and rainfall is usually consistent around spring and fall.
Aside from the expected wine tasting sessions, festivals, food and wine classes, endless strolls to vineyards, and visits to wineries, the magnificent landscapes, beautiful beaches and all the historic architecture, ensures you will have plenty of options and things to do.
Catalonia is home to the sparkling Cava wine, first invented in 1872.
Romania is well known for having a multitude of grape varieties grown across its 33 DOCs. Romanian autumns are long and gentle, allowing grapes to ripen slowly and concentrate good flavours. Situated on the same latitude as Bordeaux, the climate is drier and more continental, as the Black Sea does not have the same influence over Romania as the Atlantic Ocean does in Bordeaux.
The wine grape assortments of Romanian wine growing regions encompasses a large number of varieties for white, red and aromatic wines.
Each wine growing region has its own, traditional varieties, but they also cultivate international grape varieties, such as Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Riesling italic and Pinot Gris for white wines and Cabernet Sauvignong, Merlot and Pinot Noir for red wines.
Rhineland Pfalz, Germany
Rhineland Pfalz is one of the largest German wine regions, located in central south-west Germany. The word Pfalz is a derivation of the Latin word palatium, meaning palace. No wonder that this place is blessed with idyllic river landscapes, mountains and of course, great wine. Pinot Gris is one of the main varieties of wine. Other varieties include pleasant, mild white wines rich in bouquet and full of body, that are produced from Riesling and Müller-Thurgau grapes or deep-coloured and quite complex red wines, made from Dornfelder grapes.