From the rolling hills of Germany’s Mosel to the sandy shores of central California’s San Luis Obispo, the world’s major wine-growing regions make excellent destinations for a vacation. In addition to a beautiful backdrop, vino-focused enclaves allow you to immerse yourself in the native wine culture, experience the harvest firsthand and chat with local vintners. Plus, when you return home, you’ll be able to dazzle friends with newfound knowledge and a few fresh bottles.
Sound enticing? Here are four of the globe’s most significant wine hubs to visit now.
From the Mendocino Coast to the Santa Cruz Mountains, there are plenty of places to wine taste around the Golden State’s northern reaches. By far the most famous of these regions, of course, is Napa Valley. With more than 400 wineries to choose from, Napa is known for its cult cabernet sauvignons, renowned sparklers, full-bodied chardonnays and everything in between.
At Quintessa, taste a Bordeaux-style red blend that reflects the 280-acre property’s diverse landscape. You might recognize this revered Rutherford winery from Amy Poehler’s Netflix movie Wine Country.
In Carneros, savor a lush pinot noir and lovely chardonnay while wandering through a striking sculpture garden featuring works from talent like Keith Haring, Ai Weiwei and many more at The Donum Estate.
Sparkling wine lovers should book a tasting at Domaine Carneros. Helmed by longtime winemaker Eileen Crane, the French-inspired chateau makes a variety of bubbles, from classic brut rosé to a luxurious blanc de blancs.
Forbes Travel Guide Recommended Napa River Inn is conveniently located in the heart of downtown, making it easy to travel up or down the valley. It’s also steps away from tasting rooms, restaurants and wine bars. Enjoy classic California cuisine at Compline and then walk to Cadet Wine & Beer Bar for more local sips after dinner.
South of France
France is home to some of the globe’s most revered wine-growing areas, including Bordeaux, Champagne and Burgundy. But a hidden gem can be found south of Provence in Languedoc, a winemaking region with the largest number and variety of vineyards in the country. From fruity, salmon-hued rosés to complex, hearty reds to light and effervescent bubbles, Languedoc offers something for everyone.
At Tourbes’ Domaine Montrose — a charming, family-owned operation that dates back more than 300 years — taste a superb rosé blend of grenache noir and blanc, roussanne and syrah. An hour away, enjoy more pink at Château Puech-Haut, where you can check out a unique collection of more than 100 painted wine barrels as well. This classic chateau also makes incredible red blends like Prestige Red, a noteworthy mix of black grenache and syrah grapes.
Languedoc’s celebrity winemaker is Gérard Bertrand, a rugby-star-turned-vintner whose côte des roses is one of the top-selling rosés in the United States.
Get to know Bertrand and his wines by staying at his recently renovated Narbonne hotel, Château l’Hospitalet. The 38-room boutique property sits on a sizable biodynamic vineyard and provides an assortment of tasting experiences that explore the surrounding regions.
If you want to combine your wine-tasting escape with the glitz and glamour of a grand European city, head to Barcelona, where you’ll toast to Sagrada Familia designer Antoni Gaudí’s otherworldly architectural feats with cava, a Spanish sparkling wine made from three native grapes: macabeo, xarel-lo and parellada. Cava is mainly produced in Penedes, an area just south of the city that’s easily accessible by a 35-minute train ride.
Your first stop should be Codorníu, a historic, family-owned estate that was founded in 1551. Although cava wasn’t made here until 1872, the vineyard is now one of the largest producers in Spain, bottling more than 15 varieties. A visit to its facility is like stepping back in time with a tour of the massive cellar and sips of the brand’s popular labels like Ars Collecta Grand Rose.
After Codorníu, head into town to Solà Raventós, a small producer run by a family committed to the craft of aging cava. The vintners’ four-year-aged brut nature is a crisp and lively sparkler that pairs wonderfully with fuet, a local salami.
Back in Barcelona, bask in everything the city has to offer by staying at El Palace Barcelona, a Four-Star property known of its old-world opulence. Continue your wine-tasting adventure with dinner at Denassus, a hot new restaurant (the chicken and cheese croquettes are to die for) in the Poble Sec neighborhood from two well-known sommeliers, Sergi Ruiz and Alejo Mailan.
Argentina and Chile are the most common wine-tasting destinations in South America, but for a unique experience, head to Uruguay‘s up-and-coming vino region, Maldonado. Nestled in the hills close to popular coastal destinations Punta del Este and Jose Ignacio, Maldonado boasts seaside breezes and cool temperatures perfect for growing rich red tannat and dry white alboriño grapes.
Savor new-world pours at Bodega Garzon, a gorgeous three-year-old winery from Argentine billionaire Alejandro P. Bulgheroni. The luxurious tasting room features outdoor water elements, stunningly landscaped vineyard trellises, a bar and a dining room helmed by celebrity chef Francis Mallmann.
Make a weekend of it with a stay at Mallmann’s nearby Garzón Hotel and Restaurant, a delightful bed and breakfast with a pretty patio pool and airy interiors.