A foodie’s guide to top European destinations
28 February 2024
There is something incredibly special about sampling wine in the very place it comes from. It gives you a sense of connection to the land you stand on, and often tastes at its best when served with produce that comes from the same area. Another pleasure of visiting winegrowing regions comes via the necessities required for vines to flourish: the land is often gently undulating, attractively corrugated by the stripes of vines, and the climate is usually balmy and pleasant with low rainfall. Some winegrowing regions benefit from ancient vines dotted with historic winegrowers farms, while others are newer, shaking up the world of viticulture with their modern procedures and innovative techniques. These five wine destinations are among our favourites. Bottoms up!
The Winelands of the Western Cape are historic, scenic and productive. Enjoy a leisurely couple of days getting acquainted with some of South Africa’s finest wine estates, as well as the beautiful wine route and some elegant Cape Dutch architecture. It’s known as a ‘new world’ winegrowing area, but it’s one of the oldest of the new world nations – the first vines were planted in the mid 17th century. Expect rich, smooth reds with a high alcohol content from the sweet grapes and warm climate; the most popular grape varieties are Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. The whites, such as Sauvignon blanc and Chenin blanc, tend to be fresh with pronounced minerality.
Have a look at the Cape Town and the Garden Route itinerary idea for more inspiration!
It’s almost impossible to visit Georgia and not experience its wine culture to some degree, as wine is firmly intertwined with Georgian history and national identity. This is a country with one of the oldest wine traditions in the world,and viticulture here is at least 8,000 years old. Traditional winemaking methods have been listed by UNESCO as a part of the global cultural heritage worth preserving, and so far the processes are still very simple and natural. Most producers are growing grapes on a relatively small scale, using methods that would elsewhere gain the label ‘natural wine’. The wine producing areas in Georgia cover most of the low altitude valleys and the land behind the coast. The mountainous fringes are too high to support vines.
Have a look at the Georgia’s Foodie Highlights itinerary idea for more inspiration!
The central region of Chile is the major wine growing zone, which was expanded significantly in the late 20th century by an influx of French vintners who relocated to Chile and brought their expertise with them. There is an abundance of vines in the foothills of the Andes and along fertile valleys, all profiting from the sunny climate and the moisture drifting off the Pacific. Chile is now producing some great wine, and touring the winelands which run in a band heading south from Santiago to Victoria is a pleasurable way to explore this area.
Have a look at the Chile Deluxe itinerary idea for more inspiration!
Much like the country where they are grown, Argentinian wines tend to be bold and bursting with life. There has been a major overhaul in the winemaking industry in Argentina in the last quarter century and the resulting product is much improved, with some complex and refined wines now available. The major winegrowing region in Argentina centres on Mendoza, a delightfully scenic city on a plateau in the foothills of the Andes. As the crow flies, it is relatively near to Santiago, Chile, but the soaring Andean peaks lie in between. Mendoza wine is irrigated by the mountain meltwater which has long been used by the population of the area to supply water to their crops. As the first region to be planted with vines by the conquistadors, Mendoza has a brilliant winemaking heritage which can be experienced in the atmospheric bodegas, accompanied by some of Argentina’s most fabulous food.
Have a look at the Taste of Argentina itinerary idea for more inspiration!
The wine industry is still in its early stages in China. Research suggests that China is actually one of the oldest wine producing nations in the world, but it has never been a place where wine became a widespread and popular drink across all demographics. Viticulture on any significant scale is very new in winemaking terms, and the products are improving year on year, helped by the input from vintners of old world wine regions. Winemaking takes place in many areas of China, but the Ningxia, Shaanxi and Xinjiang regions are the best known. Touring these areas is not the same as spending time in a long established winegrowing country, as the procedures are modern and industrial and in some places the climate isn’t quite right, meaning that vines have to be buried in winter to ensure they survive the harsh cold. Wine is taking off in a big way in China, however, and it’s fascinating to find out about a wine industry in its infancy. Sampling Chinese wine is equally interesting, as results are getting better and better every year.
TravelLocal’s hand-picked partners are experts in all things China. They can arrange trips to China’s wine regions or to add fine Chinese wines to the Beijing Cooking Tour itinerary.
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If wine is your priority, there are plenty of destinations to fit the bill. Our local experts in China, Argentina, Chile, South Africa and Georgia are all on hand and ready to help curate your perfect trip.
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