What is your best wine tour destination? If I ask 10 people that question I would probably get ten different answers. What is “best” depends on what you want so in essence a list of “the ten best wine travel destinations” is not a very meaningful exercise. A bit like “the world’s top ten wines”. There’s no such thing, it’s an absurd statement. But it is still fun and interesting, and it can give you some inspiration for where to go and what to explore.
Each year the America magazine The Wine Enthusiast publishes a list of their Top Wine Travel Destinations. Here is their list for 2016, with my comments:
1. Las Vegas, USA
Well, this is perhaps not so much a destination for visiting wineries, but more for drinking wine.
“Bet on finding the world’s most prized bottles in this dazzling desert destination. Without a single vineyard in sight, Las Vegas is still one of the world’ top stops for wine lovers. In addition to one of the highest concentrations of Master Sommeliers outside of San Francisco, Vegas celebrates wine on its own exuberant terms: flashy trophy bottles, whimsical wine tastings and ultraluxurious pairings in some of the nation’s glitziest dining rooms.”
Uhm, well, not sure that makes me want to go there… I think I prefer lots of wineries to lots of master sommeliers.
2. Bordeaux, France
The world’s most famous wine “brand” and wine region is of course on the list. Bordeaux is obviously on our list of wine tour destinations. Read my upcoming post with more on what to expect when wine touring in Bordeaux.
3. Margaret River, Australia
“Bordering the sea, this burgeoning Australian region is awash with great wines. The Margaret River wine region lies on the western edge of Australia, an easy three-hour drive south of Perth. […] Margaret River is lined with pristine beaches and some of the best surf breaks around. In just 48 years, Margaret River has become one of the world’s most renowned regions for Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.”
I have never been to Australia so it is certainly a place I would love to go to. And they do make some excellent wines in Australia of course.
4. Alto Adige, Italy
At the very northern tip of Italy, Alto Adige is an Alpine wine region with Alpine wines. We currently don’t do wine tours to the Alto Adige (it’s not so easy to reach) but one of our most popular destinations is just to the south: the wine tour Veneto with Valpolicella, Soave and amarone. Read more on wine touring in Alto Adige and Vento in an upcoming post.
5. Paso Robles, USA
An interesting Californian choice far from the famous regions near San Francisco, halfway down to Los Angeles.
“Hit the hills for prestigious Californian wines and prime hospitality. Within the last five years, the chasm between Paso Robles’ award-winning wineries and the region’s lackluster hospitality options closed. Today, the former cowboy town is a buzzing hive of wine country tourism, with enough activities to entertain travelers for an entire week. […] Paso Robles combines bucolic estate settings in the surrounding foothills with a vibrant tasting culture downtown. And the amenity upgrades show no signs of slowing.”
I must admit that when I several years ago drove down from SF to LA I passed by without stopping. That was clearly a mistake.
6. Basque Country, Spain
If you go here for the wine, you should probably extend your voyage a bit more than to just the Basque Country along the coast and come to Rioja. Then you can come with us with a wine tour to Rioja. Read my upcoming post with more on what to expect when wine touring in Rioja and the Basque Country.
7. Franschhoek, South Africa
Franschhoek is a fairly small village at the very end of a spectacular valley between mountaintops an hour’s drive from Cape Town. Franschhoek is on our list of most popular wine tour destinations. Read my upcoming post with more on what to expect when wine touring in Franschhoek in South Africa.
8. Alentejo, Portugal
This not very well-know, but very big, part of Portugal is rapidly becoming something of a leading light among the Portuguese wine regions. Alentejo is a favourite destination among the wine enthusiasts who want to discover “the other Portugal”. Read my upcoming post with more on what to expect when wine touring in Alentejo in Portugal.
9. Burgenland, Austria
Austria is not a big wine country counted in volume (less than half the size of Bordeaux) but they make some very exciting wines. We have arranged several wine tours to Austria but, to be honest, it has been challenging to attract customers to come. That is a great pity. We would love to do much more wine travel in Austria, if only we could make some more people discover it as a wine travel destination. Read my upcoming post with more on what to expect when wine touring in Austria.
10. Ashland, USA
Oregon makes some of the US’ finest wine and that’s where you find Ashland.
“Once known for its Shakespeare festival, wine now steals the show in Ashland. The story of Oregon wine no longer begins and ends with Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, as many of the state’s most exciting new offerings hail from Southern Oregon. The region’s six American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) begin at the California border and extend north nearly to Eugene, with many of the 120 wineries clustered around the town of Ashland, famous for its annual Oregon Shakespeare Festival.”
Oregon is unfortunately still a white spot on my wine travel map. I have tasted some wines from this north-western US state and they have been excellent. More cool-climate than further south. One day I need to correct this omission in my explorations, and Ashland is on my list.
Read more about these exciting wine travel destinations in the article on The Wine Enthusiast. They include lots of tips on where to stay, where to eat, and what to do.
And keep your eyes open for the follow up posts on the regions mentioned above here on the BKWine Travel Blog.
So the final and most important question:
Which are your hottest wine tour destinations for 2016? Give us your preferences in a comment!