Over the past few years, wine tourism in Europe has grown more and more. Many wineries in Europe have opened their doors to visitors and create wine tours for visitors. Today, a visit to a vineyard in Europe is a proper experience, not only with exquisite wine tastings but also with overnight stayed, harvest events and Michelin star quality food.
Besides the major wine producing countries in Europe such as France, Italy or Spain, there are many other unknown yet regions which grow quality grapes resulting in fantastic limited produced wines. Let’s discover them together.[ez-toc]
Lake Skadar Region, Montenegro
By Erin from Curiously Erin
The Lake Skadar region of Montenegro is one of the best and most underrated wine destinations in Europe. As many of the vineyards are small local producers, very few of these export out of the country, making the tastings here even more special.
Around the northern end of the lake near the town of Virpazar are tiny villages with small family-run tasting rooms. While many require booking ahead or joining a tour, you can also go on a self-guided one by driving or hiring a bike. Keep an eye out for ‘open for tasting’ signs and you’ll likely end up in a few dining rooms. Historically Prince Nikola Petrovic ordered all soldiers in this region to plant 200 vines. So many of these farms have been passed down through generations since the 19th Century.
However, to ensure you’re getting the best drop include on your Montenegro trip a guided wine tour. Lake Skadar Adventure Tours knows the area and has a great relationship with the growers. Their Wine of Lake Skadar Valley Tour will show off the best of the region and a paired meat and cheese platter.
The unique climate and hilly landscapes make the perfect conditions for growing the ancient Vranac grape synonymous with the region. Although lighter to medium-bodied reds make up the majority of vines here, there are also some delicious chardonnay’s worth trying.
To get to Virpazar, Podgorica International airport is a short 45-minute drive away offering daily flights from the UK with RyanAir.
By Daria from Discovery Nut
Switzerland might not be known for its wine and yet, it boasts beautiful wine terraces in the canton Vaud in the southwestern part of the country. One of the most famous vineyards in the area are located in Lavaux, the largest contiguous vineyard and the UNESCO designated site, that remains one of Switzerland’s hidden gems.
Visitors can explore the 800 hectares of vineyard terraces on foot or by bicycle along the road that leads from Lausanne to the famous Chillon Castle. Facing the northern shores of Lake Geneva, these spectacular terraces date back to the 11th century when the area was controlled by the Benedictine monasteries.
The mild climate in the region is perfect for the lush vineyards where a variety of white wines are produced from a grape that’s called Chaseelas. Since the grapes are harvested by hand and produced without heavy machinery, the wine-making process is labor-intense and the wine made here is not often exported outside the region.
Since Switzerland is a well-connected country, you can easily get to Lavaux by train from Lausanne. However, if you are flying, the closest airport to Lavaux is in Geneva.
Best time to visit this sneak destination is late summer and fall when the temperature is crisp and the sun lights up the sprawling terraces along the lake.
By Cindy from Travel Bliss Now
If you’re looking for a truly old-world wine experience, head to the hills in Priorat, Spain. Priorat is small wine region that makes big wines and has yet to be discovered by most tourists. It takes two hours to get there via train or car, going west from Barcelona.
The old vineyards in Priorat line steep, terraced slopes yet all the grapes here are hand-picked. It produces rich, full-bodied wines tasting of sun-dried red and black plumb, black cherry and cassis. Most Priorats have 14.5% alcohol content but are still fresh and well-balanced. They can only be described as luscious.
The best activity in the area is, of course, wine tasting at the many centuries-old cellars. Since not many tourists visit the area, the cellars don’t have regular opening hours. You have to make appointments to visit. However, this guarantees personal time with the winemaker, a tour of ancient cellars and vineyards, and generous tastings.
In this slow-paced region, everything closes midday while the locals enjoy lunch (and wine!). Be sure to book a leisurely lunch in one of the tiny villages like La Vilella Alta.
The best time to visit Priorat is in the spring or the fall as the summer heat is too intense. You will need a car to get around in the region, however, note that the roads are steep and twisty. If you’re taking a day trip from Barcelona, a wine tour is the ideal way to go – no driving and all arrangements for tastings will be made for you.
If you decide to stay longer, there are also plenty of outdoor activities in the area like hiking or kayaking. A fabulous place to stay is Terra Dominicata in Tarragona.
By Eric from Food and Drink Destinations
The Rioja wine region in northern Spain is easily one of the most well known wine regions in the world. Three hours by car from Madrid, the region is set in a breathtaking corner of Spain. Rioja is lined by mountains and criss-crossed by rivers, resulting in fertile valleys perfect for growing grapes. One grape in particular, Tempranillo, reigns over all others. Nearly 88% of the grapes grown in Rioja are Tempranillo. Other varietals include Garnacha, Mazuelo and Graciano.
Rioja is home to some of the most iconic Spanish wine making families, many of whom are fourth and fifth generation winemakers. Rioja wineries like Muga, Vivanco, and López de Heredia continue to produce some of the top wines in the world. Surprisingly, wine tourism has only recently started to take off in Rioja, compared to other wine regions like Napa or Champagne. Many of the wineries are offering tours and tasting that should be booked in advance.
A few wineries are offering unique experiences in addition to tours and tastings. Bodegas Manzanos in Azagra offers tours of their vineyards in former US Army Hummer 4x4s. Other options include Segway tours of the vineyards as well as hot air balloon rides and romantic picnics.
Like most wine regions around the world, harvest time is one the best times to visit. July and August are two of the hottest months in Spain, so best to avoid them. The town of Logrono is a great place to base out of when visiting Rioja. In addition to its central location, it has an incredible food scene, especially for pintxos.
Dealu Mare, Romania
By Corina from Another Milestone
Just 100 kilometers outside Bucharest lays one of the biggest wine regions in Romania: Dealu Mare. To reach this place you can land in Bucharest and rent a car from there. In less than 2 hours you will be in Dealu Mare.
Dealu Mare means in Romanian “the big hill” and as the name suggests it is hilly, sun-kissed region perfect for vine growth. From Ploiesti to Buzau the whole area is covered in vine and several wineries are opened here. In Dealu Mare you will find some of the most flavored red wine varieties in Romania: Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, or Feteasca Neagra. Feteasca neagra is a traditional grape variety that produces tasty red wines as well as roses with the scent of dark berry fruits and ripe plums. It was planted for the first time a thousand years ago by Romanians’ ancestors, the Dacians.
Once you get there you will find several wineries that offer wine tasting sessions, lunch, guided visits in the vine, and even let you pick the grapes in September. For those that love biking, the up and downhill roads will be a great surprise plus they will enjoy the amazing views of Dealu Mare!
Goriška Brda, Slovenia
By Mel from BRB Travel Blog
Slovenia is slowly craving a spot as one of the finest winemakers in Europe.
The Goriška Brda region is one of the 9 wine regions in this tiny country of 2 million people.
Goriška Brda, or simply Brda, is located near the Italian border and it is often dubbed as Slovenia’s “Tuscany”. Winegrowers of this region have won multiple medals and awards in the last couple of years. The typical wines in the area are Rebula (Ribolla Gialla) and Friulano. Roughly 75% of the wine production in the whole country is dedicated to white wines and almost all is consumed domestically. Orange wines are also very popular.
Brda is located at a short 1h30 drive from the international Venice Marco Polo Airport. This wine country is distinguished by sparse small villages, perched on top of rolling hills and miles and miles of vineyards.
I suggest starting your oenophile tour by going to the tourist information office in Dobrovo and ask for the flyer that lists all the wineries hosting wine tastings, opening hours and the addresses (some of the wineries do not have a website). Unfortunately, the website of the region does not have all of this information. Plus, the office inside in the Dobrovo Castle, one of the sightseeing stops!
For a true wine pairing experience, head to Kabaj Morel winery. They produce some of the best wines in Slovenia and have a 5-service wine pairing with their local and seasonal menu. The chef offers traditional dishes from the region with a modern touch. You can stay in their guest house or stay at the San Martin hotel. This hotel offers a terrace with a breathtaking view of the hills and the vineyards. Plus the owner is one of the most reputable sommeliers of the region and offers a great wine list.
Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence, France
By Nadine from Le Long Weekend
The region of Provence is well regarded for its pale pink rosé wines, and the sub-region of Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence is no exception, although it does produce several delicious reds too. The Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence wine region encompasses the southern city of Aix-en-Provence but extends north as far as the Durance River, and west until it meets the vineyards of Les Baux de Provence. It’s the second-largest wine region in Provence and is home to over 70 producers. It should come as no surprise then, that there are a number of ways to experience the Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence wines.
Visit one of the many grand châteaux for a tasting, take a wine tour, take part in a harvest celebration, or stay the night among the vines. Notable visits include the Chateau La Coste north of Aix, with it’s Art & Architecture walk among the vines and several notable restaurants onsite.
Nearby you’ll also find the Chateau de Fonscolombe, a delightfully restored 18th-century chateau that has been transformed into a luxury hotel complete with its own organic vineyard. If you want to see the vines heavy with fruit, late summer is the best time to visit. However, in Autumn the vines put on a show as their leaves turn bright yellow, burnt orange, or crisp crimson.
It’s in late summer through to early October that you’ll witness the annual harvest taking place, and can join in one of many harvest celebrations. To get there, fly into Marseille and travel onwards by car or bus, or take the train directly to Aix-en-Provence from Paris.
Aragatsotn Province, Armenia
By Kristin from Adventures with Ensuite
Not many people know that Armenia is considered the “cradle of wine”. Legend has it that Noah, after landing his ark on Mt Ararat, planted the first grape vines and started making wine. Archaeological finds prove that wine was being made in these valleys over 6,000 years ago.
During the period in which Armenia was part of the Soviet Union the country mainly focussed on brandy. Since independence in 1991 the wine industry has been revived and many smaller wineries have opened.
Most of these wineries are located south and east of the capital, Yerevan. There are two international airports in the country but Zvartnost international airport close to Yerevan is the most convenient.
Public transport is infrequent, therefore renting a car or a taxi is the best way to get around. The drink driving limit is zero so to enjoy your wine tastings a good option is to stay at one of the wineries which also offer accommodation. One such option is ArmAs, a 45-minute drive north of Yerevan. In addition to wine tastings, an overnight stay includes a tour of the vineyards and the factory.
The best time to visit is May to October, although the middle of the summer is very hot with temperatures reaching high 30 degree Celsius. In late September and October the harvest is in full swing and vineyards such as ArmAs will let you help with picking grapes. Autumn is also one of the best periods to see the many other sights this little-visited country has to offer.
Codru Region, Moldova
By Marinna from Irma Naan World
Moldova, a small Eastern European country, is one of the biggest wine producers and its wines regularly get international awards. Here you can taste a variety of wines, including red, white, rose and sparkling (champagne). Producers use mostly Cabernet, Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Riesling grapes, but there are wines made of local varieties like Viorica, Fetească Neagră, Fetească Albă, Fetească Regală and Rară Neagră.
The wineries are concentrated mostly in the central and southern parts of the country, and the most famous ones like Milestii Mici and Cricova belong to the so-called Codru Region and are very close to Chisinau, the capital of Moldova. Naturally, it is much better to stay in Chisinau and go to the wineries on day trips, though some of them, like Chateau Vartely and Castel Mimi, provide accommodation, so it is possible to stay there overnight. Chisinau is easily accessible from many countries in the world, and the only international airport is about 13 kilometers away from the city center.
The wineries offer regular wine tastings, so visitors can enjoy the experience all year round. Usually they include tours of the cellars with thorough description of the wine-making process and traditional food. Visiting the cellars of Milestii Mici and Cricova will be of particular interest, as the former has the biggest wine collection – around 1,5 million bottles (included in the Guinness book), and the underground galleries of the latter with about 1,3 million bottles extend for 120 kilometers!
While it is possible to tour the wineries all year round, it is much better to visit the region in September and October. This is the harvesting season, and some wineries, through prior agreement, allow visitors to pick grapes. But the most interesting event – the Wine Day – happens in Chisinau in October. This is the right time to taste all wines in one place, dance, listen to folk music and eat traditional food.
Douro Valley, Portugal
By Aga from Traveling with Aga
Northern Portugal is home to Douro Valley, the oldest demarcated wine region in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s famous for producing Port, sweet, fortified wine, that is exclusively made from grapes grown in that region. Douro Valley is home to countless Quintas, that range from small, family owned places to big estates. Aside from delicious Port wine, Douro Valley has a breathtaking and unique landscape, which is reason enough to visit.
Even though you can visit Douro Valley on a day trip from Porto, you should plan to spend at least 2 days if you can. Stay at one of the estates, surrounded by the jaw dropping scenery and enjoy wine tastings at different Quintas. I particularly recommend paying a visit to Quinta do Jalloto, a small family run place, located in one of the best locations in the Valley. The views from the nearby viewpoint are beyond spectacular.
Make sure to also take a boat ride down Douro River in one of the traditional, wooden Rabelo boats. This will give you a glimpse at how wine used to be transported from the Valley to Porto back in the day. Not to mention, you will be surrounded by sweeping hills covered in vine terraces, which make for breathtaking scenery.
You can easily reach Douro Valley from Porto, which is also the closest airport, in about one hour. The best time to visit is between Spring and Fall, but keep in mind that summers tend to be brutally hot. The most exciting time to be in Douro Valley is in September during the harvest season. You not only get to see all the activity, but also participate in the harvest by picking and stomping grapes.
Prosecco Hills, Italy
By Emily from London City Calling
Considering the ever-growing popularity of Prosecco around the world, Italy’s Prosecco hills are still a hidden gem when it comes to wine destinations in Europe.
Located only an hour away from Venice by train, the Prosecco hills refers to the region between the towns of Valdobbiadene and Conegliano where the highest denomination of Prosecco is produced; Prosecco Superiore DOCG. The Italian sparkling wine produced within this small area of Veneto is controlled by strict regulations and is considered the highest quality Prosecco in the world.
The beautiful rolling hills of the Prosecco region are perfect for a wine tasting day trip from one of the bigger nearby towns or cities (like Venice) or for an overnight stay at one of the numerous agritourism hotels and charming little B&Bs. The majority of the wineries in the region offer tours of their vineyards and of course all-important tastings. From the larger wineries with impressive modern tasting rooms to the smaller family run wineries who offer tastings within the vines, the Prosecco hills offer something for everyone.
Plus you can make a pit stop at the region’s unique prosecco vending machine which sits on top of one of the hills and dispenses cups so you can enjoy your sparkling wine on one of the nearby picnic benches while taking in the spectacular views.
Moravia, Czech Republic
By Megan from Packing up the Pieces
Nestled in the Southwest corner of the Czech Republic lies the wine region of Moravia. This beautiful region produces over 95% of the country’s wine. Find the region near the Czech Republic’s 2nd largest city of Brno and it continues south to the borders of Austria and Slovakia. Surprisingly, this wine region lies only a little more than an hour from the capital cities of Vienna, Austria and Bratislava, Slovakia, making it an excellent and “hidden gem” itinerary alternative.
The Moravian wine region boasts many of their own local grape varietals and are especially known for their lovely crisp white wines. The most popular grape varietals include Pinot Gris, Riesling, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. However, don’t underestimate their delightful black grape varieties of Pinot Noir and Frankovka, which is the regions most produced, consumed, and beloved grapes.
One of the best places to explore the Moravian wine region is from the hilltop hamlet of Mikulov. In the picturesque village itself, there are a large range of wine bars, family cellars, and the town’s centerpiece: a stunning chateau. The best time to visit the cellars are during the harvest months of September and October, when all you have to do is “knock on the door” to be given a tour. The summer months are beautiful and many of the chateaus and tasting rooms are eager to offer samplings that end in hefty pours.
The nearby villages of Sedlec, Valtice, and Lednice should not be missed and offer the opportunity to sample wines at vineyards, at garden terraces, in wine cellars, palaces, and even an old converted gate house of the Valtice Palace. To truly experience the wine region, rent a bike from Mikulov and follow along on the Mikulov Wine Trail.
By Norbert from France Bucket List
The wines of Burgundy are some of the world’s best wines and a trip to the Burgundy wine region in France is a must for any wine passionate. The main grapes for Burgundy wines are pinot noir for reds and chardonnay for whites.
Burgundy (Bourgogne in French) is part of the administrative region of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, in Eastern France, and it is a great place for a weekend of relaxation, sightseeing, and of course wine tasting. The best way to reach Burgundy is with your own car or by TGV train from Paris.
There are many Burgundy wine routes, best explored on a road trip. The oldest and most famous is the Route of Grand Crus, from Dijon to Beaune or vice versa. Along the way, you can explore picturesque small towns, beautiful châteaux, and of course visit as many wine producers as you want. Usually, wine producers offer wine tastings on-site and they can recommend the best wines for you.
The list of other wine routes in the Burgundy wine region includes the Route of the Grands Vins de Bourgogne and the Route of the Wines of the Mâconnais-Beaujolais. Before starting one of these Burgundy wine routes we recommend visiting a wine museum in Beaune or Dijon to learn all about the Burgundy wines, so you can enjoy the trip even more!
By Kathryn from Sussex Walks
Sussex, on the south coast of England, has in recent years become well known for its sparkling white and rosé wines. It’s a beautiful region with the rolling hills of the South Downs, stunning beaches, and dramatic sea cliffs. Visit in spring, summer, or autumn, and enjoy long walks by the sea or in the countryside, explore historic villages and visit some of the many wonderful vineyards.
The region is particularly suited to Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grape varieties. Sussex has the warmest and driest climate in the UK and a diverse range of soils. Most notably, it shares the same seam of chalk as the Champagne region of France. The chalk and flint make the soil well-draining while the flint also holds the warmth of the sun overnight, keeping the roots warmer than they otherwise might be.
Award-winning producers include Albourne, Nyetimber, Bluebell, Bolney, Oxney Organic, Rathfinny and Ridgeview, but there are many more excellent vineyards to discover beyond these. Wine tastings and tours are available at most of the vineyards. At the highly regarded Tinwood Estate, for example, you can enjoy three glasses of wine with a tour for just £18 per person, while a wine tasting and tour with afternoon tea costs £49 per person. In addition, they host special events throughout the year including their harvesting and lunch experience each October. Tinwood and Oxney also offer high-end overnight accommodation. Being less than an hour’s drive or train ride from London and with the international airport of London Gatwick near Crawley in West Sussex, it’s easy to get there too!
Collio Region, Italy
By Larch from The Silver Nomad
The Collio wine region in Friuli Venezia Giulia is a hidden gem in the wine world. Tucked up in the hills behind Gorizia between the Julian Alps and the Adriatic Sea, the slopes and terraces are filled with vines.
With a mild climate, hot summers and cold and rainy winters, the microclimate created is perfect for the production of great wines. The cooler temperatures of early spring or late autumn are the best for visiting the area.
There are almost two thousand hectares of hillside vineyards growing indigenous grapes such as Ribolla Gialla, Collio, Malvasia, Picolit and Fruilano as well as international varieties incluing Melot, Pinot Grigio and Pino Bianco and Sauvignons. There are four DOC areas which intersect here Collio, Fruili Isonzo, Friuli Collo Orentali and Friuli Grave
The area is very well set up for visitors and includes the 6 Wine and Dine routes through the area. Each route highlights the best of the regions fine foods and wines. The individual routes take you to the mountains, plains, rivers, coast, the Karst plateau and of course the hills where you can sample the delightful wines.
Wine tasting and vineyard tours are available in most of the vineyard, but it is best to call ahead to make a booking.
The nearest airports to the area are Trieste or Venezia (near to Venice) and then Gorizia is about a two-hour drive to the north. You can base yourself here while touring the countryside.
By Alina from The World of Lina
The small and most eastern state of Austria is one of the country’s four main wine regions. It’s very easy to get there thanks to its convenient location near the Vienna International Airport.
Burgenland shares borders with Hungary and many wines from this region have more in common with Hungarian wines than ones from Austria. Unlike in most of Austria’s other wine regions, the majority of varietals used in Burgenland are red. It’s especially famous for the two dark-skinned varietals Blaufränkisch and Zweigelt. Both of them are late-ripening and the wines made of these grapes are known for their spicy character.
Burgenland is a great destination to visit all year round but if you want to experience the grape harvest, try and go there in the middle of September.
Don’t worry if you choose another month, there are a lot of other activities related to wine. For example, you can do wine tasting in one of the typical taverns called “Heuriger”. Many winemakers also offer special tours where you can visit their cellar and learn more about the winemaking process.
For the ultimate experience you can book an overnight stay at one of the many wineries all around Burgenland. The best places to choose from are the villages Rust, Mörbisch and Podersdorf located at Lake Neusiedl.
By Bec from Wyld Family Travel
The Alsace region in France is world-famous for its wine route and it’s fairy tale towns.
While most people flock to the area in summer to enjoy the amazing vineyards mixed with summer sun, you really can’t go wrong visiting the Alsace in any season. Springtime sees the vineyards in blossom with fresh new wines to taste, fall sees an endless supply of colours through the Vosges mountains and in the winter the Alsace comes alive with some of the most magical world-famous Christmas markets.
Fairytale towns like Riquewhir, Eguisheim, Ribeauville and Benheim are surrounded in vineyards as far as the eye can see. Some vineyards have cellar door shops in the towns where you can go below into the cellar cave and taste some of the wines on offer. Above you can purchase the ones you love the most to take home with you.
One of our favourites is the Wolfberger Cellar door in Eguisheim. Not only do they sell amazing wines they have also ventured into liqueurs. At their cellar doors, you can really find something so unique and delicious. There are so many amazing things to do in the Alsace and driving the Alsace wine route really is only one of the true joys of the area.
Strasbourg and Colmar are the larger of the towns in the Alsace region and they are where most people start their Alsace journey, some only staying within these cities but it is out in the regional areas of the Alsace where you will not only get a taste of the Alsace you will get the complete feeling as you see where what you are enjoying really comes from.
Champagne Region, France
By Elisa from World in Paris
The champagne wine region produces the world’s best champagne. The historical region of Champagne is located in the French region of Grand Est, in Eastern France. Champagne is not far from the French capital, actually a day trip to Champagne is one of the best day trips from Paris.
Epernay is the capital of the champagne wine region and most of the tours, private or self-guided, start from here. Stroll through avenue de Champagne, considered the world’s most expensive avenue! Indeed, below its surface, kilometers, and kilometers of the best champagne wine are waiting to be uncorked for a special occasion.
In Epernay, there are many champagne tasting tours. These tours usually include a visit to the cellars to learn the story of the maison and the technique of champagne making and a champagne tasting at the end of the tour. The most popular champagne tours are those proposed by the most famous maisons like Moët-Chandon or Mercier but the tours by lesser-known maisons are good too and don’t need to be booked in advance.
A good alternative to the champagne tours is to visit the champagne producers: they also propose champagne tastings and prices more affordable than in the wine shops of Paris or abroad.
After visiting Epernay head to the small town of Hautvillers. Here, you can visit the tomb of Dom Perignon in the town’s little abbey, do more champagne tastings and shopping.
By Alaine from Travel with Alaine
Saussignac is an underrated region in the South West region of Dordogne. About an hour’s train ride from central Bordeaux. The wine grapes grown here are similar to ones grown in the right and left banks of Bordeaux. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot red wine grapes dominate but Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon white wine grapes are also grown in the region. You may also find that the winemakers in this region produce blends that are typical of the Bordeaux region due to its close proximity.
Chateau Feely is a small vineyard in Saussignac producing organic wines and the owners Caro and Sean Feely conduct wine education classes, wine tours in the local region, as well as invite people to join them in the harvest. They are extremely passionate about winemaking and educating people about organic wine growing and farming practices.
The closest local train station to Chateau Feely is Gardonne station. After booking a wine experience from Chateau Feely, you can communicate with them directly for a pickup and drop-off to and from Gardonne station. This is especially useful if you are taking the train in from Bordeaux. After a full day of wine tasting, walking the grounds, and a beautiful lunch paired with their organic wines, this will be a responsible option since you would not have to drive! Chateau Feely also offers very limited accommodation to pair with your wine vacation but book way ahead in advance because it gets booked up quickly!
The grounds of Chateau Feely are very scenic with rolling hills in the background and surrounded by the vineyard. If you want an educational experience on organic winemaking, a relaxing time, and want to explore the region with wonderful hosts, I highly recommend booking either their 2 day or 5 day wine tours which would include accommodation, wine classes, organic wine growing methods, and tours to the Bergerac region and Saint Emillion. Don’t forget to purchase a couple bottles as a souvenir or order a case to be delivered home (within EU).
By Bilyana from Owl Over the World
When it comes down to wine Bulgaria is a fabulous destination to visit. Bulgaria might not be the first place you’ll think of when considering where to have a wine trip to, but believe me, I am Bulgarian and I am a wine lover, I have traveled to over 30 countries, tried their local wines, and the Bulgarian wine is hands-down one of the best I have ever had.
Bulgaria has a long wine production history dating back to Thracian times.
Passing from one generation to another, it’s a tradition here in Bulgaria to produce your own alcoholic drink. While some people make rakia (local alcoholic drink), others prefer wine.
Some of the best wine destinations in Bulgaria include the Struma River Valley, the Thracian Valley, and the Black Sea region. However, now you’re going to learn about a wine that has its roots high in the mountains, and its history dates back to the near past – raspberry wine!
The raspberry wine production has begun in 2003 with plantations in the area of Trustenaq hut, in the Western Stara Planina (Old Mountain). Both the hut and the raspberry plantations are situated at 1, 130 meters above sea level.
In the beginning, it all started with the production of raspberry and merlot, and after a few years, they added 100% raspberry wine and raspberry rose to their selection.
At the spot, there are no wine tours offered, but you can freely walk around and see the plantation, as well as try as much wine as you like in the hut. A bottle of wine there will cost you between 5 – 7 euros. And while you can visit and taste the wine all year round, the best time to see the plantation is in the early summer.
Getting there as a tourist might be challenging though. The closest airport is Sofia Airport. Once you’re in the city, you can take the train from Sofia Central Train Station to Lakatnik. From Lakatni train station, you have two options: hike or get there by car.
Since the train station is located about 7 km away from the village where the hike starts from, it would be best if you have a car. With the car, you can get to the hut, or you can leave the car in the center of the village and hike from there. Getting to the hut on foot will take you not more than an hour and a half from the village.
If you choose the train, you can also start the hike from the train station. It will take you more time to get to the hut, but then you can deservedly treat yourself with a glass of delicious raspberry wine (or a bottle). You can stay in the hut overnight and not worrying about getting back to the city on the same day.
By Veronika from Travel Geekery<
Kakheti is the most traditional region known for wine-making in Georgia. You can find it in the East of the country, on the border with Russia and Azerbaijan. It’s easy to get to Kakheti from the capital of Tbilisi – it’s about 2 hours drive away.
70% of wines made in Georgia come from the Kakheti region. Wines that you must try when visiting the area include:
· Saperavi, the most famous dry red variety, often made using the traditional Georgian way of letting the wine ferment in a special clay pot called qvevri
· Semi-sweet Kindzmarauli, dry red Mukuzani – both made also from Saperavi grapes
· Dry white Tsinandali from a village of the same name.
The whole Kakheti region is dotted with wineries and vineyards that you can visit and have a tasting at:
Mosmieri Winery features a modern sleek building – it was constructed only in 2015. Here you can enjoy a tasting experience with the view of the mountains around. Mosmieri vineyards are located further away in the Tsinandali village.
Shumi Winery in Tsinandali is surrounded with vineyards and you’re free to roam them and explore the 400 varieties that grow there. Shumi has a large courtyard with plenty of things to keep everyone amused. After a tour of the wine cellar, tasting is carried out outside.
Chavchavdze Estate was a summer palace of a prominent Georgian prince and a poet Alexander Chavchavadze. Nowadays it serves as a museum. A wine cellar is an inseparable part of the estate and you can do a tasting there too.
Khareba Winery is officially the largest winery in Georgia. Established in 1955, it’s built inside a rock and features a series of long tunnels. Tasting is possible too. This experience is a little bit more touristy since Khareba belongs to top tourist attractions in Georgia.
By Lori from Travlinmad
Tuscany, Italy is famous for its dreamy scenery and rolling hills, but it’s the exquisite wines in particular for which Chianti is world-renowned. From everyday table wine to sublime elegant wines, there is a Chianti for every budget and taste. Producers grow a great variety of grapes besides Sangiovese — the main grape in Chianti — which make for interesting wines. In addition to Chianti and Super Tuscans, you’ll also find sophisticated Merlot, Caniolo, and many red blends created by local vintners.
For white wine lovers there is Vernaccia, the crisp white wine of the San Gimignano area of Chianti.
Comprising the wine region of Chianti is the area around Florence in the north, Siena in the south, Pisa to the west, and Arezzo in the east, although not all wine produced here may be called Chianti Classico.
Visitors interested in exploring Chianti have many choices for wine experiences from simple winery tastings to full-day slow travel Tuscany wine tours and culinary dinners, and there are many small boutique wineries worth a visit.
To taste Vernaccia di San Gimignano, try Capella Sant’Andrea winery just outside historic San Gimignano. Podera Erica is another biodynamic vineyard producing Super Tuscans red made solely from Sangiovese grapes. They also produce La Ghiandaia, a marvelous red and one of their flagship blends. If you’re lucky you may be in time to taste Le Columbe, a small batch white made from dried muscat grapes. This is a lovely place to do a tasting and spend the night in their agriturismo.
The easiest way to visit Chianti is to fly into Florence Airport. Unless you’ve booked a private wine tour, rent a car at the airport and spend a few days on your own. Late summer and early Autumn is a great time to visit — plan on at least a week in the region to truly experience the amazing wines of Chianti.
By Elena from Passion for Hospitality
Located in the northeastern part of the Peloponnese 100 km drive from Athens, 2 ½ hours by car, Nemea is an archaeological site of great importance both in ancient and modern Greece. It is here that the Nemean Games were born in 537 BC, attracting visitors from all corners of Greece. According to Greek mythology ancient Greeks would hold the Nemean Games every two years in honor of the king of the gods — Zeus. Athletes, coming from all over Greece, would compete naked and victors were awarded with a crown made of olive tree branches. Mythology also claims that in this same site Hercules executed the infamous Nemean Lion.
Today, Nemea is a compelling winemaking region. It has become a popular tourist attraction in Greece not only for its great archeological interests, but also for the numerous and famous wine vineyards found in the area. Covering an area of 26,000,000 m2, the Nemea land produces a variety of grapes, with the most famous being the red Agiorgitiko. Other grape varieties include Malagousia, Chardonnay, Merlot, Rodites and Cabernet Sauvignon. The unique climate of the area, the different ground elevations and the kaolin soil, produce a wide range of wine types: dry wines, fresh and fruity, mature wine or full bodied wines. The wines produced in the area are famous worldwide.
Wine being a 3,000 old cultural tradition of Nemeans, the dozens of vineyards in the area offer wine-tasting and wine-educational seminars to visitors. The most popular vineyard in the area is the “Domaine Bairaktaris” winery which offers tours of the vineyard, the plantations, the cellars, wine and food tastings. “Gofa” and “Lafazanis” are two different wineries in the area which have been founded over 70 years and passed down to generations, keeping the tradition of excellent wines. “Palivou Estate” winery is also a well-known winery of Nemea, offering once in a lifetime experience. “Constantin Gofas” is also an excellent choice for your wine-tasting trip and once there make sure to ask for Romeo and Juliet.
Nemea is worth visiting at any time of the year. Due to its proximity to the sea, the nearest beach is 20km away, during the hotter months of the year can you think of a better way to relax on your holidays than enjoying the beach and wine? Due to the fact that Nemea is situated in the hills, makes it a wonderful destination to enjoy during the winter months too. The scenery is spectacular, as it snows sometimes and the little rivers get frozen. A perfect opportunity to cozy up on a cold day with wine and food! The best way to get to Nemea is with a car, as there aren’t any nearby airports or ports, except from the ones in Athens. The trip to Nemea is worth the drive as you will have to pass the Isthmus of Corinth which connects mainland Greece with the Peloponnese peninsula. You could also combine your wine-tasting trip with a visit to the beautiful town of Nafplio, the first modern capital of Greece which is situated 40km south from Nemea and offers a wide variety of accommodations that fits all preferences and budget.
By Devashree from Thecrazyindianfoodie
Studded with lush countryside greenery, rolling hills, beautiful towns, exquisite vineyards and delicious food, Kent is the oldest county in England and is just a few hours from London.
You can embark on an incredible culinary journey through the South of England, abundant vineyards that produce some of England’s finest wines.
Your first stop can be to Chapel Down, one of the most well know vineyards in the UK. Here with their in-house sommelier you can walk through the beautiful vineyard, learn about the variety of grapes grown, the wine making + storing process followed by an intriguing wine tasting session of their sparkling and still wines.
Pair some of your favourite Chapel Down wines with delicious food at The Swan Kitchen Restaurant where fresh, local food meets an elegant ambience surrounded by the lush green vineyard.
Next head to Biddenden Vineyards, located outside of the lovely, historic town of Biddenden. This family owned British vineyard is spread across 23 acres of gorgeous slopes and is famous for the Ortega, used to produce a delicious fruity white wine. One of the regions oldest wine makers, their wines, ciders and apple juice made with fresh Kentish apples are a delight to savour. Embark on an interesting wine tour of these vineyards and learn about the 11 grape varieties grown here followed by an exquisite wine tasting session.
You can also visit some other gorgeous vineyards like Hush Heath, The Mount vineyard, Gusbourne, Barnsole vineyard, Squerryes Winery, Chartham Vineyard and more.
The best time to visit is in Summer where the weather is warm and you can walk along the vineyards, experiencing beautiful greenery. You can also visit during harvest season in early Autumn which will have less crowds.
The best way to get to Kent is to fly to London (multiple airports) and drive down a few hours to your favourite vineyard. There are also many trains to Kent from major stations across England.
Val Sugana, Italy
By Amy from Amy’s Guides
Nestled in the Dolomites of South Tyrol, Northern Italy is a magnificent gem worth mentioning. The Val Sugana region is as stunning gastronomically as it is aesthetically. Merely 125 km (78 miles) from Verona, the wineries of Val Sugana offer unique-yet-palate-pleasing tastes for oenophiles and novice wine tasters alike. Fly into Verona and take a train up to Trento for an affordable, simple option; driving by car takes only 90 minutes from Verona.
The local wines of the region are plentiful. The three grapes native to the region include: white Nosiola, red Teroldego Rotaliano, and red Marzemino. However, one grape stands out among the rest: the Trentino D.O.C. Nosiola. One tires neither of the delectable taste nor the tales surrounding the region’s sweetheart vintage, Trentodoc Vino Santo. This white, sparkling wine enjoys a world-renowned signature production method titled the Trentodoc metodo classico (“Trentodoc classic method”). Select vintners even sink bottles to specific depths in Lake Levico during the in-bottle second fermentation. The result? A refreshing, crisp, delightful everyday wine, most similar in taste to its French sister, Champagne.
While there are a handful of independent wineries in Val Sugana, a large number of growers belong to large wine-producing cooperatives. The benefit is wines consistent in taste and characteristics year-to-year. In addition to its three native grapes, Val Sugana is also known for growing Chardonnay, Cabernet, Merlot, Moscato, Pinot Nero, Pinot Grigio and Müller-Thurgau grapes in its verdant soil.
The best time of year to visit this region of Italy is February-May or September-October. For those who don’t mind sweltering heat and humidity or rain showers, this area is worthy of visiting year-round.
To immerse yourself in true wine culture and gastronomic delight, arrange a wine tasting or harvest dinner at a local winery. A boutique winery offering delightful, personalized experiences is Cantina Romanese. Also worthy of a visit is the gorgeous Castel Ivano where you may book a tasting with the Terra del Lagorai Winery, housed within the castle walls. You’ll also find dozens of boutique hotels, B & Bs and overnight experiences in Val Sugana. In short: if your travels take you anywhere in Tirol, be sure to dedicate at least three days to Val Sugana. The tranquility you experience is truly worthwhile and welcome.
By Ucman from Brown Boy Travels
Porto is a real gem of a city when it comes to wine. Located in the oldest wine region of Douro, it is a city that has a lot to offer when it comes to different varieties of wine.
Located in the northern Portugal, Porto has an international airport with extensive connections to Europe and further afield. The best way to explore is a long weekend break in porto during which you can also make a day trip outside the city in the actual Douro region as well.For perfect experience visit in spring or late summer to avoid the crowds.
Porto is a relatively small city and while it may have inspired the Hogwarts uniforms and grand staircases for Harry Potter, it is actually better known for its wine.
Porto introduced the world to Port Wine, a sweet mostly dessert wine. The best varieties come in red but white is also available. Porto is also home to green wines which are the Portuguese version of famous champagne and Italian Prosecco (for non Europeans: according to EU rules only produce from a selected area can be sold as such so bubbly white wine from champagne region is champagne and so on and the same goes for cheese and many other items).
In Porto you can try most of the amazing wines through tours of many wine distilleries on the other side of Douro river in the city of Vila Nova de Gaia (or simply Gaia) right opposite to Porto (yes it is a different city despite there between no distance between the two cities other than the bridges).
There are a lot of wine tasting and tours of the cellars and most of the famous wine families like Ferreira have significant impact on the history of this region and Portugal. Most wineries will take you through the process with tastings at the end. You can also buy wine here and enjoy it on your own time. The best part is the price of these wines and where a bottle will cost you 10-12 euros outside, you can enjoy it for 2-3 euros. In the US the prices are absolutely crazy.
Sitting by the Cais de Ribeira after some Francisinha in the evening watching the sun set over this gorgeous land with a glass of great Port wine is the luxury one can never forget. Porto shall never disappoint if you love wine, that’s a promise.
Moselle Valley, Luxembourg
By Paulina from Paulina on the road
Spend the afternoon exploring the undiscovered, yet remarkable Luxembourgish wine garden that curls along the Moselle like a green ribbon. The Moselle River travels along the border of Germany and Luxembourg. It winds just a little outside of Luxembourg’s capital and the city center. The Moselle Valley along the Luxembourg side is a popular and historic wine region growing wine for thousands of years.
It is located in the southeast of the country touching the German border, people locally know it as Mosel River. The Moselle area is spread in 26 miles from Schengen in the south to Wasserbillig in the north. Travelers can experience the historic taste of Moselle wine by reaching there via a flight to Luxembourg.
Although the valley of Moselle in Luxembourg is popular for its hills and mountains, it marks its name as the birthplace of Luxembourg wines. Moselle is mostly famous for its local white varieties of wine such as Pinot Gris, Auxerrios, and Riesling. Moselle is the land to large plantations of fruit trees for the production of liqueurs, schnapps, and fresh juices.
Travelers go on themed hikes to discover this region. And on the weekend of Pentecost winegrowers, distilleries, and wine cellars between Grevenmacher and Schengen open their doors for wine tasting, with “”Wine Taste Enjoy”” as a motto. Another wine experience you can have in this area is on the second weekend of February when the winter counterparts “”Wine Cheese Enjoy”” takes place. It is a Gourmet event dedicated to cheese and wine specialties.
Travelers can visit wineries in Moselle anytime between late-spring and early-autumn. Before anything else, plan where to stay in Luxembourg so you can have a pre-arranged travel and driver waiting at the hotel. They can take you to wineries in the valley.
By Dzangir from Dr Jam Travels
Karst region is located in the south-west of Slovenia, bordering Italy. The region is easily accessible from airports in Trieste (20 minutes) or Ljubljana (1 hour). From this region’s name after Valvasor’s research in the 17-century name is applied for this kind of landscape in general. This limestone area is rich with caves, sinkholes, and other forms in the ground caused by acid rain.
Red, iron-rich soil (terra rosa) and winds (bora) create specific conditions for a wine produced in this small region, Terran (Refosco grapes). This wine has higher acidity, ruby-red color, high tannins, and fruity taste. It is best served after one or two years in a wooden barrel at 16 degrees celsius accompanied by local prosciutto.
From white authentic wines Malvasia, Vitoska Grganja, or Rebula are found in the region. Since 18-century winemakers have had 8 days (Osmica) to sell wine without taxes. You should check dates for one of 100+ wineries in the Karst wine route. I would suggest, Štoka, Šanjel, or Vinakras. They are suitable for wine tasting, dinner with local food, visiting vineyards and stone cellars.
Once you are in the region you could visit Postojna or Škocjan caves (UNESCO site), Lipica stud farm with famous white horses or the Ferrari villa in Štanjel by Fabiani.
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