With millions of people visiting wine regions each year to wander and spit their way through a grape-filled holiday, immersion tourism is on the rise around the world.

From wineries near the towering Andes to famous vineyards in France, tourists are drawn to tasting the best and most famous wines in the world.

These destinations often combine mild climates with stunning scenery, charming villages and popular cities, so there are plenty of opportunities for exploration and discovery between wine tastings, cellar tours and hillside meals.

Whether you prefer the port wines and steep slopes of the Douro Valley, the chateaux and red wines of Bordeaux or the white wines and majestic mountains of New Zealand, the world’s leading wine regions offer something to suit all tastes. Read on to choose the best.

Bordeaux, France

Bordeaux is home to about 7,000 different wineries

(Getty Images/iStockPhoto)

The Bordeaux wine region is named after the main city, although it covers parts of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine administrative region around the mouth of the Gironde River and the Garonne and Dordogne rivers. Divided into two main regions – the Left Bank and the Right Bank – it is said to be home to around 7,000 different wineries, many of which are famous for producing red wines using Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.

Bordeaux is as famous for its elegant chateaux that produce its wine as it is for its taste. In the region, Saint-Emilion and Medoc are perhaps the most well-known, with around 1,300 wineries between them.

Producers here range from the smaller, more modest family-owned variety to castle-like estates complete with on-site Michelin-starred restaurants. Examples of the former include Chateau Venus or Sigalas Rabaud, where your tour guide may be the owner and where a free 30-minute tasting of four wines can be booked in advance. Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey falls into the latter camp, although there are thousands of options (quite literally) in between, offering anything from simple tours of the vineyards and cellars to flights over the local area and tastings paired with tapas menus.

Read more about Food and drink:

Napa Valley, California, USA

Napa Valley combines near-perfect weather with stunning scenery

(Getty Images)

Located about 60 miles from San Francisco, Napa Valley is a relatively young wine-producing region that, despite producing only 4 percent of California’s wine, has developed into a popular tourist destination thanks to its near-perfect weather and gorgeous scenery. One of the valley’s most striking features is its eclectic collection of wineries, with Italian villas like V. Sattui Winery nestled alongside mansion estates like Castello di Amorosa and quintessential American estates like Elizabeth Spencer.

Among the green hills you will find more than 400 wineries, although even in the built-up areas there are a series of “urban wineries” – tasting rooms in the city center that offer the opportunity to taste the products of many different wineries at more convenient times and locations. The most commonly used grapes are Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Merlot, although the climate and soil create a wide range that also includes Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc.

You can access unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows with Amazon Prime Video

Sign up now for a free 30-day trial


Amazon Prime logo

You can access unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows with Amazon Prime Video

Sign up now for a free 30-day trial


While there is plenty to do in the area – from hiking and cycling to golf or spa days – it is the sheer range of winery tours that are the highlight of the area. Most are family-owned, but cater to anything from first-time tourists and casual visitors to wine connoisseurs and those looking for upscale experiences.

Douro Valley, Portugal

The Douro Valley is one of Portugal’s most famous wine producing regions

(Getty Images/iStockPhoto)

The landscape of Portugal’s Douro Valley is markedly different from that of many other wine-producing regions in Europe, with the Douro River serenely flowing through dramatic valleys and green hills home to numerous terraced vineyards. The region is famous for producing fortified and EU-protected wines.

The cities of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia are considered the gateway to the valley, and Pinhao is considered the main city within it. Many choose to go on a river cruise as part of their trip, where you can eat meals on board before touring the wineries (known locally as Thursday). The vineyards in this area offer panoramic views of the surrounding hills, exquisite dining experiences and charming accommodation options alongside the usual tours and tastings.

For some of the best views in the area, head to Quinta das Carvalhas or Quinta do Seixo. Dinner is best enjoyed with a view at Quinta do Crasto, with tastings here and at Quinta do Tedo particularly affordable at around €16 (£13.70). Quinta da Pacheca is perhaps the most unusual of the wineries, where guests can sleep in one of the giant barrels after experiencing grape stomping and a dinner buffet.

Tuscany, Italy

Tuscany is home to some of the most famous wine regions in the world

(Getty Images/iStockPhoto)

Tuscany is as famous for its stunning scenery as it is for its wine production, and this is truly a testament to the quality of wine in a region that is among the most picturesque in Europe. A land filled with sprawling vineyards, dense olive groves and gorgeous villas, this part of Italy is also blessed with history, culture and great cuisine, with cities like Florence and Siena among the most visited in the country.

Tuscany is known as the land of Chianti wines, and the most widely used grape is Sangiovese (although Pinot Grigio, Trebbiano, etc. remain popular). It’s a more refined, traditional region where wine tastings and tours have a suitably rustic charm, whether you’re sipping Chianti at the 1,000-year-old Castello di Neposano or trying dessert wines on the terrace overlooking Florence’s Cathedral at Tenuta di Capisana.

Mendoza Argentina

Mendoza is surrounded by the towering Andes Mountains

(Getty Images/iStockPhoto)

Mendoza the A destination for Argentine wine tourism, nearly 70 percent of the country’s wine is produced by around 900 different wineries (known in Spanish as… Bodegas). As wine regions go, this part of Patagonia is among the most remote, surrounded by towering Andes and filled with flat, green plains. Malbec is by far the most common grape, although you can find Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Criolla as well.

The main sub-regions include Maipo, Luján de Cuyo and Valle de Oco, where the different altitudes (some up to almost 2000 metres) and mountain shelter create the diverse growing conditions that have made the area so popular.

From the futuristic buildings of Anaia and Alfa Crux to the European villas of Finca Desero and the modern estates of the world-famous Salentein, the bodegas in Mendoza are among the most striking buildings in the world.

Some of the tasting and tour options are among the most relaxed on this list – offering wine tastings for as little as £8 – although there are also formal dining experiences where each course is paired with a specific drink. For something on the cheaper side, try Vines of Mendoza or Santa Julia.

Rioja, Spain

Rioja traces its winemaking heritage back to Roman times

(Getty Images/iStockPhoto)

Located within the Spanish province that bears its name, the Rioja region traces its winemaking heritage back to Roman times. It is the country’s prominent wine-producing region, dominated by red wines and the use of Tempranillo grapes. At just over 90 miles east to west, it’s easy to fit visits to several wineries during a visit.

The Cantabrian Mountains and the Ebro River provide a beautiful backdrop to Rioja’s vineyards, which are scattered among quaint villages. Walking around, you’ll see everything from the medieval walls and castles of Sagazzara to the impressive modernist construction of the Marqués de Riscal, the region’s most famous building (designed by Frank Gehry, architect of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao). The aforementioned building is home to a very elegant hotel and was previously voted as the second best winery in the world; A tour and tasting here costs €22 (£19).

The seemingly split metal roof of Ysios is one of the area’s most memorable architectural oddities (a tour here costs around £30), while Bodegas Lecea offers a very different experience with tours of its 16th-century caves.

Marlborough, New Zealand

The Marlborough region accounts for three-quarters of New Zealand’s wine production

(Getty Images/iStockPhoto)

New Zealand’s largest wine region is found at the northern tip of the South Island and is defined by Sauvignon Blanc, although Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes are also common. The area’s natural beauty is reason enough to visit, with the sunken valleys of Marlboro Sound providing a picture-perfect view of the Pacific Ocean. It’s also part of the New Zealand Wine Trail, a 236-mile cycling route that takes riders through four of the country’s wine regions.

Marlborough is home to a relatively small number of wineries – around 148 at last count – and only a select few offer tours and tastings, although the smaller number still offer an impressive selection, including some of New Zealand’s leading producers. Brancott Estate is home to the region’s original Sauvignon blanc wines, while Cloudy Bay is famous as one of the oldest wineries. There are plenty of small, family-owned producers such as Hanz Herzog, while a little research will lead you to particularly scenic areas such as coastal Yealand’s Estate.

Yarra Valley, Australia

The Yarra Valley is located about 90 minutes from Melbourne

(Getty Images/iStockPhoto)

Australia is home to many distinctive wine regions, with preferred location and wine styles being the main factors behind choosing destinations such as the Hunter Valley, Barossa Valley and Margaret River. The Yarra Valley is a good choice for an easily accessible location, with its proximity to Melbourne; Chardonnay, pinot noir and sparkling wines are highlights here.

There are said to be 160 wineries in the valley, and the low prices of many of the tasting venues mean visitors can try several of them on their trip. Some go for as low as AU$5 (around £2.60) at Yering Farm, although the middle ground here is just AU$10 at properties including Many Hands, Maddens Rise and Coombe. There are also often more comfort food pairings – think more pizzas and small entrees rather than fancy red meat dishes.

Read our reviews for The best hotels in Europe

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: