Great Wine-Tasting Destinations

Great Wine Tasting DestinationsEnotourism – travel based on visiting vineyards and tasting wine – started about 40 years ago with Napa Valley’s marketing effort to bring visitors to the region, but there are other great wine-tasting destinations across the country and around the world.

California Destinations

Since Napa Valley defined enotourism in the mid-70s, it still leads many lists as a wine-tasting destination. If you opt to visit, perhaps you want to schedule a longer trip than you may have envisioned. Napa Valley Vintners lists 491 wineries on its site. If you’re retired with all the time in the world and money is no object, perhaps you could visit them all.

For a shorter, more realistic winery-based trip, WineSearcher.com conducted a TripAdvisor survey for the best winery tours in the U.S. Napa holds six of the top ten slots including Pride Mountain Vineyards, 2000 feet above sea level with a great view of Mount St. Helena. Jarvis Estate goes in the opposite direction – a 45,000-square-foot cellar tunneled into the Vaca Mountains.

The TripAdvisor survey includes two Sonoma wineries, and WineEnthusiast ranks Sonoma as number five on its list “10 Best Wine Travel Destinations 2014,” and suggests it’s the perfect destination for great food, great wine, and gorgeous surroundings. “An hour north of San Francisco, with an enviable coastline to the west, Napa Valley to the east and rugged Mendocino County to the north, there’s no better place to indulge your hedonistic tendencies.” Napa did not make the WineEnthusiast list for 2014, nor did it rank on Business Insider’s “10 Wine Tours You Can Take on a Budget,” while Sonoma captured that fifth spot.

Head south from San Francisco and land in Paso Robles with more than 200 producers. Travel + Leisures’s wine writer, Bruce Schoenfeld touts the area and the Wine Wrangler tour, discovering a few great, very small wineries that he would have otherwise overlooked. Head north from San Francisco and land in the Anderson Valley and Mendocino for an off the beaten path winery area.

Other U.S. Winery Destinations

Of course, there are more places that support grape growth than California. The TripAdvisor survey included Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin and Peconic, New York, located on the North Fork of Long Island. Schoenfeld also included Long Island on his list of top wine tours.

How about Moab, Utah? Sunset.com lists it first in its “Top 15 Secret Wine Country Escapes.” Plan to visit Arches National Park while you’re there and do some biking as well. Besides other California locations, there are a number of northwestern areas included throughout Oregon, Washington, and Idaho.

WineEnthusiast includes Texas as its leading U.S. wine destination, noting that Texas is the fifth largest wine producer in the U.S. Hill Country in Texas is the spot to visit.

International Wine Destinations

Like California in the U.S., France tends to lead the list of international wine destinations. Also like California, touring every winery might be impossible without unlimited time and money. However, there are “virtual” tasting trips offered without ever leaving Paris. Or drive an hour east of Paris to Reims and enjoy Champagne. (Learn more about Champagne from an earlier blog.) Schoenfeld also touts a few wine tours in France by French Wine Explorers with the caveat that the tour is truly about the wine, leaving little time for other sightseeing opportunities.

The Aegean Islands, Greece, leads WineEnthusiast’s list: “All three islands have excellent choices for lodging and fine dining, and the network of ferries and short-hop flights make visiting one or more of these convenient and simple.”

Mexico shows up on a number of lists as a great destination for wine tasting, specifically areas in Baja California, including Valley de Guadalupe.

There is no shortage of great wine, and there is no shortage of great wine-tasting destinations. Grab a map and start planning your trip.