If you are a foodie who likes to taste the terroir whilst on holiday, then don’t miss out on these six destinations every wine connoisseur needs to visit.
Marlborough, New Zealand
Situated in the largest and leading wine growing region in New Zealand, The Marlborough Lodge is a South Island boutique hotel that’s the stuff of oenophile dreams. Part of the extensive grounds is home to a vineyard – growing the world-famous Marlborough sauvignon blanc grapes – and the hotel’s head gardener can take you on a tour that’s a wonderful introduction to the region’s most famous tipple. For real insight though, there are numerous experiences on your doorstep, including tours that stop at up to eight wineries to give you a real taste for New Zealand wines; cycling tours that take you off the beaten track into the stunning countryside; and private tastings for those with a nose for the finest grapes.
Once known as the ‘vineyard of the Soviet Union’, Moldova has a brilliant wine scene. Wine lovers will find countless delights here at producers such as Purcari Winery, where the conditions are particularly good for viniculture and similar to those in the Bordeaux region. At the turn of the century some 250 hectares of vineyards were replanted at Château Purcari and in 2012 Icewine was introduced to the collection. Here you can take a tour of the cellars followed by a tasting and lunch in beautiful surrounds, sampling varieties such as Rosu de Purcari and Negru de Purcari – known as ‘the Queen’s wine’, as the 1990 vintage is said to be a favourite of Queen Elizabeth II.
Franschhoek, South Africa
Wine production in South Africa dates back to 1659 and today wine is made in more than 340 cellars here, with five main ‘winelands’. One such is Franschhoek, first settled by French Huguenots in the 17th century who brought their wine making skills to the region, establishing wine estates and giving everything French names. This Franco-influence is still enjoyed today, with French food and wine-making traditions living on. Set in a valley about an hour from Cape Town, it’s a must-stop for any oenophile in the Rainbow Nation.
For a few nights of luxury, Virgin Limited Edition’s Mont Rochelle is a 26-room hotel on its own wine estate, home to shiraz, merlot, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and cabernet sauvignon varieties.
Douro Valley, Portugal
Surrounded by ancient vineyards – this area is the oldest demarcated wine region in the world – a stay at Six Senses in the Douro Valley offers a wine-lovers’ experience bar none. From the beautiful chandeliers made of wine bottles to the unique Wine Library & Terrace; this is the place to sample some of the world’s most rare and entrancing vintages. In fact, it was recently named Best Vineyard Hotel in AFAR Magazine’s Travelers’ Choice, and with a wine programme far surpassing a sommelier-chosen list, it’s not hard to see why. Highlights include the daily tastings and 24-hour wine dispenser, as well as a schedule of activities such as Wine With A View – a vintage boat trip past vineyards on both sides of the river.
Luján de Cuyo, Argentina
The heartland of the malbec grape, Luján de Cuyo is a must-stop on your adventure through Argentina. Take a Wine Experience day tour for expert insight of the region, including visiting some of the most important wineries the area is home to. With a small group of other wine-lovers, you’ll stop first at Bodega Achaval-Ferrer at the edge of the Mendoza River where the peculiar winemaking methods make for a dynamic and interesting visit. Next up is Bodega Casarena where the focus is on demonstrating how wines evolve during the winemaking process. The final stop – and the setting for a gourmet three-course lunch – is Bodega Finca Decero with its impressive views of the Andes Mountain Cordillera.
A country with over 8,000 years of viniculture, holidays in Georgia are enhanced by the sumptuous local wines and cuisine (think hot baked cheese bread and hearty vegetable stews) that accompany each day, and for a wine experience that’s truly unique, make a stop on your tour for wine tasting in Kakheti. On the popular Discover Armenia and Georgia Tour from Regent Holidays you’ll do just that, first driving through the twisting gorges of Lori province to the UNESCO-listed monasteries of Hagphat and Sanahin, spectacularly located on either side of a deep gorge, before crossing the Georgian border to the Kakheti region and Sighnaghi Royal Town. Here you’ll experience dinner and a wine tasting at the Pheasant’s Tears – a famous producer of traditional Georgian wines.