Lifestyle / Travel

LUXUO Recommends: 5 Enchanting Destinations To Visit For Wine Lovers

When it comes to a wine vacation, majestic vineyards, yummy vibes, and top-notch wine are essentials. Check out LUXUO’s recommendations on the best wineries to visit around the world.

Mar 25, 2022 | By Sng Ler Jun
wine tasting, top wine destinations to visit
Image: Chelsea Pridham/Unsplash

As many began exploring new hobbies (thanks to the pandemic) in the past two years, you may have stumbled into the world of wine. While books and the Internet can help broaden your knowledge in the field, the best way to begin your journey is by drinking.

When it comes to wine, the most important thing is not always about its taste. Sure, drinking wine is part of its enjoyment, but the best wines often speak of the places of their origin. This makes the pilgrimage to its source both a pleasurable and culturally-enriching task.  

Wine tourism is not a novel concept today; wine-producing regions, such as Tuscany and Napa Valley, make great vacations. And with more VTLs opening up, you can expect to visit these gorgeous vineyards soon.  

If you are looking to better immerse yourself in the local wine culture, there is a growing number of wineries allowing visitors to participate in their harvest. If you are lucky, you might also get the rare opportunity to savour wine straight from the barrel, just as it is ageing. Here, some of the world’s most enchanting destinations to visit for wine lovers.

Best Destinations for Wine Lovers At A Glance:

  • Willamette Valley, Oregon
  • Sicily, Italy
  • Niagara Peninsula, Canada
  • Mosel Valley (or Moselle Valley), Germany
  • Shenandoah Valley, Virginia

Willamette Valley, Oregon

willamette valley oregon vineyards
Image: Dan Meyers/Unsplash

Known as the “Oregon Wine Country”, the 150-mile long valley comprises more than 20,000 acres of vineyards and more than 700 wineries. Winemakers within the region have had a long-standing and reputable history of sustainable winemaking practices—think regenerative viticulture. Willamette Valley is also home to some of the best (and most expensive) Pinot Noir in the world.

Some of the best wineries to visit include family-owned Sokol Blosser Winery in Dundee, which is known for their ethereal pinot noir; and Adelsheim Vineyard where their wines, such as Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir, are made from the grapes in their estate vineyard and boast the label’s signature rich fruitiness and long, clean finishes.

sokol blosser wine tasting
Image: Sokol Blosser Winery
sokol blosser winery at dundee
Image: Sokol Blosser Winery
dundee hills estate
Image: Sokol Blosser Winery

The best way to traverse the valley is by car, which makes renting a car and embarking on a scenic road trip a good strategy to conquer the expansive land.

Sicily, Italy

coast at taormina in sicily, italy
Image: Katarzyna Modrzejewska/Pexels

As one of Italy’s top destinations to visit, the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, or Sicily, boasts a dry, warm climate, featuring regular sunshine and moderate rainfall, making winemaking exceptionally suitable. Sicilians are said to have started making wine since 4000 BC. Both its red and white wines are as attractive as they are classy, and the region is also known to have distributed to mainland Europe, China and India.

The past couple of decades saw tremendous changes to the region’s wine culture, with a new generation of producers concocting quality wine with local grape varieties, such as the Nero d’Avola, Frappato and Nerello Masacalese.

antichi vinai valle alcantara
Image: Antichi Vinai
antichi vinai 1877
Image: Antichi Vinai
winery cooking class
Image: Antichi Vinai
antichi vinai bottaia riserve
Image: Antichi Vinai

Make a trip to the Antichi Vinai winery, which is located at the foot of a volcano, Mount Etna. Besides the charming landscapes, the region surrounding the volcano has one of the most fertile soils that can be used to cultivate and grow indigenous grapes. There, you can indulge in a gamut of Etna wines and learn how to pair them with local delights. Alternatively, you can go wine bar hopping. Some of the best Sicilian wine bars include Winery Avola, First Lounge Bar and Vinoveritas Enoteca & Bistro.

Niagara Peninsula, Canada

Kelowna BC Canada vineyard
Image: Danica Stradecke/Unsplash

Canada’s unique climate and fertile soil makes the land highly desirable for growing grapes and producing cool-climate spirits, such as Riesling, Cabernet Franc and even the dessert wine Icewine. Amid its lush, expansive hills, the numerous wineries and vineyards blanketing the outskirts of Niagara Peninsula are bound to impress both the wandering grazer and serious connoisseur.

Be sure to visit one of Canada’s original estate wineries Inniskillin. Established in 1974, the winery’s reputation surged when it won the prestigious Grand Prix d’Honneur award in 1991 for its 1989 Vidal Icewine. For the uninitiated, the Vidal Icewine comes in two distinct styles: with oak ageing for complexity and without oak for fresh fruit emphasis. Otherwise, consider heading down to Château des Charmes, a French-family owned estate winery rooted in sustainability. There, savour the brand’s nonvintage brut sparkling wine and estate chardonnays, ideally from the 1990 and 1991 pours.

inniskillin winery canada
Image: Inniskillin
Château des Charmes
Image: Château des Charmes
inniskillin winery niagara estate
Inniskillin Niagara Estate. Image: Wine Country Ontario

Alternatively, spend an afternoon savouring the unique creations at one of the smaller but independent artisanal wineries.

Mosel Valley (or Moselle Valley), Germany

cochem castle moselle valley
Image: Kai Pilger/Unsplash

Mosel Valley in Germany has plenty to offer. Medieval villages? Check. Fairy tale? Check. Beautiful vineyard vistas? Check. The dreamy town is home to some of the region’s particularly delicate Rieslings, which is known to age well, and develop that aromatics of honey and petroleum (the latter is a classic indicator of German Riesling).  

An interesting factoid: The steep river bank slopes within the region are said to be some of the most labour-intensive vineyards in the world. Apparently, the steep incline allows direct sunlight to hit the vines. As a result, the ‘heated’ soil, which is covered by slate stone, makes it ideal for growing grapes.  

Mönchhof winery in Ürzig
Ürziger Würzgarten. Image: Weingüter
Mönchhof winery in Ürzig
1177 wine cellar in Mönchhof winery. Image: Weingüter

When you are there, visit the modern Moselle Wine Museum, where you get to savour more than 100 wine samples and learn about the region’s wine history. Or head to the former monastery Weingüter Mönchhof in Ürzig to savour wine in a breezy, outdoor setting. Don’t forget to make some space for a pint or two of German beer around the town too.

Shenandoah Valley, Virginia

Shenandoah River State Park, virginia
Shenandoah River State Park. Image: Virginia State Parks

Stretching from the Maryland state line to just south of the city of Roanoke, the rolling hills, expansive apple orchards and local barns at Shenandoah Valley in Virginia are endearing sights to behold. The region is famous for its sparkling wines as well as its scenic drives (apparently commercial trucks are not allowed on the roads) through the valley.

As one of the state’s first farm wineries, Afton Mountain Vineyards grows some close to a dozen of grape varieties and is known for their award-winning red and whites. Besides sitting on the eastern slope of the Afton Mountains (where vines received the best dose of morning sun), the soil in the area is a unique mix of heavy clay and silt, formed as a result of decades of erosions of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The location is also sheltered from excessive rain, while the gentle breeze that flows through the Rockfish and Humpback gaps helped make the conditions ideal for growing grapes. You may choose to even stay within the premises at one of its two guesthouses.

Afton Mountain Vineyards
Image: Afton Mountain Vineyards
CrossKeys Vineyards
Image: CrossKeys Vineyards
Afton Mountain Vineyards
Image: Afton Mountain Vineyards
Rose’ 19 at Afton Mountain Vineyards
Rose’ 19 at Afton Mountain Vineyards. Image: Afton Mountain Vineyards
CrossKeys Vineyards
Image: CrossKeys Vineyards

Located at the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, the area where the family-owned CrossKeys Vineyards resides at was once a thick forest. It was not until 2001 that it transformed into the gorgeous estate winery it is today. With its stunning panoramic views of the valley, the area is popular amongst young couples who want to wed here. Much of the wine here expresses the character of the land beneath and around them. This may be, in part, due to the winemakers’ careful use of oak in fermenting and aging; none of their wines is aged longer than 14 months. To enhance its texture without masking the natural aroma, they also use neutral oak barrels.

Bonus Tips

  • Consider hiring a wine guide:
    Hiring a local wine guide has its perks too. Many of them have connections with the local wineries, and you can always count on them to bring you to only the best haunts favoured by locals. Some may even drive you around the area as you hop from one winery to another. Perfect, if you are travelling with your clique.
  • Reserve in advance:
    Many places still practice Covid-19 regulations and limit the number of pax touring the area. We recommend making an appointment at the winery of your choice to avoid disappointment.
  • Visit three and nothing more:
    Wine lovers may hate us for this, but we recommend only visiting three wineries a day. Drink responsibly. Remember, the goal is to appreciate wine and viniculture so being able to recall the wine notes is a must!
  • Plan non-wine activities:
    Spruce up your vacation with other activities, such as museum hopping or outdoor hikes around the vineyards. Even better, sign up for cheese or olive oil tasting within the region too. 

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