When you drink good wine and why would you want to drink anything other, you are drinking the taste of a geographical location and culture. And when you get off the train and look up at the town of Montepulciano, that delicious bottle of wine you had back at home last week takes on a whole new meaning. The production of wine brings with it prosperity and with that prosperity comes culture, so it’s no coincidence that visiting the vineyards of the world is not only a fascinating wine tasting experience, it also locates the wine in its social and historical context.
1 – Stellenbosch, South Africa
The Stellenbosch boasts numerous vineyards offering a variety of delicious sparkling options. The scenery is spectacular and the hotels luxurious yet reasonably priced. You can arrange for a car and driver and take a planned tour of the vineyards where you can enjoy tastings and gourmet food and wine pairings. Some hotels will even provide you with complimentary transport to and from the Stellenbosch. While you are there be sure to take time out to enjoy the outstanding wildlife, on a safari, in a shark diving cage or on the back of an ostrich.
2 – Tuscany, Italy
There’s enough variety in the vineyards of Tuscany to keep you sipping for a lifetime and the production of sparkling wines is rich and widespread. As you wander the vineyards, you’ll enjoy a variety of grapes and their blends: Trebbiano, Sangiovese, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and in the hilltop town of Montalcino, centre of the prestigious Brunelllo wine region, you’ll find outstanding sparkling wines, such as Marchesa Clementina. The wine alone would be reason enough to visit the region, but Tuscany is a treasure trove of delights which must not be ignored Sienna, the Piazza del Campo of which Montaigne declared to be the most beautiful public space in Italy. Pisa, with its Pisan Gothic Campo dei Miracoli and that well known tower. The walled town of Lucca with its piazzas and Romanesque churches. Art and outstanding architecture is everywhere. Another great appeal about the destination for us Britons is the reasonable proximity, single trip insurance quotes start from £5 and return flights start from £38.
3 – Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand
New Zealand’s second largest wine region, Hawke’s Bay has been producing wine since the 1850s. There are many who would assert that New Zealand produces the best sparkling wine in the New World and there are certainly great examples to be found in Hawke’s Bay. Beautiful scenery, mild sunny winters and long hot summers make this an appealing destination at any time of the year. As well as wine tasting, you can enjoy gourmet dining, Art Deco and Spanish Mission architecture and a vibrant arts scene.
4 – Mendoza, Argentina
This is the main wine-producing region in Argentina, producing two thirds of all the country’s wine. It has the highest vineyards in the world to which the Malbec grape is particularly well suited. Its 1,500 wineries spread across its three regions welcome visitors so there’s no need to book. As you would expect of an important wine region, Mendoza offers there excellent hotels, fine dining and plenty of opportunity for exercise in the form of white-water rafting, horse riding and mountain biking.