Usually reserved for the holidays and special occasions, effervescent sips have made their home in gatherings all year long. But true sparkling wine lovers know that the best bubbly is acquired by traveling to its place of origin and enjoying each glass against the backdrop of the terroir from which it came.
Plan a trip to these prime spots for sparkling wine paired with amazing food and luxurious accommodations.
A trip to Barcelona is not complete without standing shoulder-to-shoulder, clinking glasses and sharing tapas in local cava bars. However, the best way to learn about Spain’s fruity, méthode champenoise (traditional champagne method) sparkling wine is to take a trip to its source. The Penedès, an hour’s drive or train ride southwest of the coastal Spanish metropolis, produces a wide variety of wines, but is best known for its production of cava, made with a blend of parellada, xarel-lo and macabeu grapes.
Be sure to plan a visit to Cavas Codorníu, where Spain’s oldest family business has made vino for more than 450 years and bottled the country’s first sparkling wine in 1872. Marvel at the modernist work of architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch, take a train through the underground galleries and pedal through the vineyards on electric bikes with Montserrat Mountain as a backdrop.
End your picture-perfect day with an aperitif in the modern, white-washed space dedicated to Anna de Codorníu, the first cava made with chardonnay, alongside chips, olives, cheese and minifuets (Catalan sausage).
However, if you can make it back to the city before falling into a champagne-induced coma, you won’t regret a few nights at El Palace Barcelona. This Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star example of tasteful opulence not only spoils with velvet drapes and crystal chandeliers in its rooms but with live jazz and colorful drinks at the inviting Bluesman Cocktail Bar Barcelona, too.
Undoubtedly the most famous region for producing sparkling wine, Champagne is just about an hour and a half (by car or train) northeast of Paris, which means it is possible to get a taste of the country’s famed effervescence with a day trip from the City of Light to Reims, the Champagne capital.
Alternatively, should you plan to stay and sip awhile in Reims, you can settle in at the exquisite Domaine Les Crayères. The turn-of-the century property, housed in a historic French chateau, is nestled on more than 17 acres of lush vegetation just minutes from prestigious wine producers that cellar their vino in the famous crayères of Reims (chalk caves dug out by the Romans).
Book dinner at the beloved Le Parc, where chef Phillippe Mille’s culinary creations are accompanied by more than 600 champagne labels curated by acclaimed sommelier Phillippe Jamesse.
Tour the quarries of Ruinart, the region’s oldest champagne house, before ending with a glass of its vintage brut rosé.
At nearby Taittinger, learn about the environmentally friendly techniques used on the family’s 700-plus acre vineyard, one of the largest operations in the region, before strolling the caves and enjoying a creamy chardonnay-forward Comtes de Champagne.
Okanagan Valley, Canada
Some of the best bubbles in North America can be found in Canada. Producers in the East are making excellent traditional method champagne in Niagara and Nova Scotia and, on the opposite coast, British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley has also become a top destination for sparkling wine.
Head to Kelowna to visit Summerhill Pyramid Winery, Canada’s largest biodynamic and organic vineyard that finishes its wines in a one-of-a-kind pyramid cellar built according to sacred geometry.
After a tour, tasting and exceptional lunch at the Sunset Bistro overlooking Okanagan Lake, head to Tantalus Vineyards to try the blanc de noir and unique brut crafted from an old vines riesling. Learn about the winery’s non-interventionist commitment to sustainability and experience a honeycomb tasting from the neighboring apiary.
If you like how the tannins tickle your tongue, you can purchase a few bottles at the onsite shop. (Note: While Tantalus wines can also be found at stores and restaurants around BC and Alberta, many other top Canadian pours are only available for purchase at vineyards where they are made.)
After your vino adventure, check into the nearby Sparkling Hill Resort, a crystal-encrusted wellness retreat owned by the Swarovski family that’s just north of Kelowna.
For a bite and some sips, head to Delta Hotels Grand Okanagan Resort, a lakeside property with beautiful views in downtown Kelowna. Enjoy wood-fired bread and pizza, fresh shareable “social bites,” 2,800 bottles of local wine and creative cocktails crafted by the restaurant’s bar chef at Oak + Cru Social Kitchen & Wine Bar.
You can also dine at RauDZ Regional Table, a cozy but refined neighborhood spot where the food and drink menus are orchestrated with total allegiance to local products.
Finger Lakes, New York
Those searching for a sensational stateside sip should look to New York’s Finger Lakes, where winemakers are crafting high-quality bubbles using riesling, chardonnay and pinot noir grapes in both traditional and ancestral methods. The region, which is a five-hour drive from Manhattan, is best explored by car, since the 11 lakes span a massive 9,000 square miles. Additionally, we recommend visiting just one or two spots at a time for an enjoyable experience.
On the western slopes of Seneca Lake, Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard uses indigenous yeast to craft some of the most esteemed wines in the region, including a blanc de blanc, blanc de noir and a cuvée brut, which can all be sipped in the tasting room.
Don’t miss some of the region’s smaller wineries, too, like Heart and Hands Wine Company on Cayuga Lake. The local producer is committed to creating sustainable and food-friendly bottles like sparkling riesling and brut rosé. Choose from several different educational guided flights in the cozy tasting room.
Afterward, settle in at the charming Inns of Aurora, where four well-appointed properties offer distinct settings complemented by original art and antiques. The hotel also arranges various experiential culinary experiences, including a garlic farm visit, a wine country getaway, a private vino tasting catered to your preferences and a Finger Lakes Foodie package consisting of an in-depth sampling of locally made products like cheese, sausage, honey, beer, wine and spirits.
This year, Israel celebrates its 70th anniversary and an ever-growing wine industry, now 300 vineyards strong across five different regions. Situated in the north of the country, the Galilee (which is split into two parts: the Upper Galilee and Golan Heights) features higher-altitude and cooler-climate vineyards, which produce fine sparkling wines using the traditional method.
At Golan Heights Winery, Yarden Blanc de Blancs has gained worldwide recognition for its aromatic, elegant interpretation of sparkling chardonnay. Explore the vineyards on an all-terrain vehicle before experiencing a tasting in the oak barrel cellar.
Neighboring Pelter Winery invites you to a tour of the unspoiled kosher vineyard and distillery and to taste the family-run operation’s wines, spirits and homemade goat cheese.
After traversing the picturesque countryside, check into the plush Cnaan Village Boutique Hotel & Spa for a weekend of relaxation and sleek suite accommodations.
Make dinner reservations at Villa V, a nearby restaurant serving elegant Euro-Mediterranean fusion with a stunning view of the Sea of Galilee.
Visitors to Venice will find that bacari (wine bars) are as essential to Italian culture as tapas bars are to Spanish social life. A trip here wouldn’t be complete without hopping to several of the city’s historic bars to snack on cicchetti washed down with prosecco.
But for a unique excursion, flee the crowds to Veneto, the region responsible for crafting the signature Italian bubbly made in the Charmat method of forcing carbonation into stainless-steel tanks. Driving less than two hours north of Venice, you’ll reach the hills between Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, where the best prosecco is made.
Visit PDC Cartizze, the only vineyard specializing in the organic production of grapes and DOCG Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze, the grand cru of prosecco.
After an educational tour and tasting, take a scenic drive up to Ca’Salina, a family-run winery perched on a hilltop with beautiful peeks onto the surrounding sloping vineyards.
Once you’ve had your fill of prosecco, check into Cà del Poggio, a boutique resort overlooking the hills of Feletto. Try the seafood specialties at the renowned onsite restaurant.
German sparkling wine — called sekt — is produced throughout the country in a variety of different styles. Get back to basics with a visit to Weingut Fitz-Ritter, the first winery in Pfalz (and second in Germany) to use traditional bottle fermentation to produce sparkling wine, starting in 1837. Experience a vine-to-glass tour of the organic winery followed by a cellar tasting of riesling sekt brut, chardonnay crémant brut and more.
At nearby Weingut Reichsrat von Buhl, arrange a three-course, wine-paired cooking class after a cellar tour and tasting of selections like the Reichsrat von Buhl rosé prestige.
Finally, unwind in a plush suite at the Hotel Deidesheimer Hof, a charming property overlooking the market square of Deidesheim. Borrow a bike to explore the German Wine Route while taking in the views of the Pfälzerwald (Palatinate Forest). Complete the experience by booking a contemporary meal in the Schwarzer Hahn restaurant in the hotel’s historic cellar.