If you know your pinot grigio from your chardonnay, why not consider going on a wine vacation? Not only will you be able to sample fine wines at their place of origin, but you can also do some traveling and explore stunning destinations. We’ve rounded up the top destinations for wine vacations, from the sleepy Spanish region of La Rioja, through to the volcanic island of Santorini, here are our top picks:
1. La Rioja, Spain
If you’re a “deep red” drinker, you absolutely need to head to the region of La Rioja, in Northern Spain. Rioja wine is made in La Rioja and it’s one of the world’s most delicious types of red wine, thanks to its deep, fruity flavor. In the region of La Rioja, there are over 500 wineries set within an incredibly picturesque region that’s filled with sleepy villages and rugged green mountains. Some of the top vineyards include Bodegas Muga, Bodegas López de Heredia Viña Tondonia and Bodegas Marques de Riscal. We recommend renting a car, and driving through the region. Northern Spain is relatively off the beaten track, so you’ll find cheap accommodations and a completely untouristy atmosphere. If you need a place to crash after sampling too much Rioja and tapas, check out all accommodation options in La Rioja.
(Read more: Wine Vacation Destination: La Rioja)
2. Santorini, Greece
The island of Santorini in Greece is known for its dramatic volcanoes, cliff-side white houses and blue-domed churches. It’s also a fantastic wine-vacation destination — because of its volcanic terrain the wine produced has a distinct and unique flavor that’s hard to find anywhere else in the world. There are tons of wineries on the island, alongside great restaurants, or tavernas, that serve their own house blend. The top wineries to visit on the island include Santo Wines in the town of Pyrgos and Domaine Sigalas in the popular town of Oia. If you’re considering a trip to the island, we’ve rounded up 5 jaw-dropping places to stay in Santorini — including your very own former wine cellar that has since been converted into a romantic cave that you can stay in.
3. Mendoza, Argentina
Argentina’s famous Mendoza wine route is arguably one of the most scenic wine destinations in the world. The area has incredible Andean Scenery, with snow-peak mountains, a rugged landscape and bare-back horse riders galloping through the valleys. Mendoza is known for its delicious Malbec wine and Vino Patero, which is when the grapes have been pressed by foot, giving the wine a distinct flavor. Some of the top wineries to visit include Familia Zuccardi and Bodegas López vineyard. The Mendoza wine route has become increasingly popular with backpackers exploring South America — if you’re traveling in Argentina it’s a must-visit destination! From cheap hostels to cute cabins that you can rent, we have every type of accommodation option in Mendoza.
(Read more: Wine Vacation Destination: Mendoza)
4. Douro Valley, Portugal
The Douro Valley in Portugal is known for its fruity port, which is a sweet red or white dessert wine. The Douro River Valley is one of the world’s oldest winemaking regions, with wine production dating back to the Roman era. It’s a stunning area to explore by car as the wineries are located amongst steep, winding roads. Some of the top wineries to visit include Quinta Roeda, which dates back to the 16th century, and Quinta das Carvalhas. Find a place to stay in the town of Porto, near to the Douro Valley.
(Read more: Wine Vacation Destination: Douro Valley)
5. Bordeaux, France
For many, Bordeaux is the wine capital of the world and the area is famous for its production of delicious red wine, with over 80 percent of its products being of the red variety. The area is best explored on a bike, and you can slowly make your way from one winery to the next. Top wineries include Château de Pitray and Château Mouton Rothschild. We have tons of amazing options for places that you can stay in Bordeaux, from a room in a chateau, through to a cheap hostel.
(Read more: Wine Vacation Destination: Bordeaux)