Planning a trip is sometimes as exciting as the journey itself: researching the chosen destination, discovering unique, cannot-be-missed spots, and daydreaming about the smells and flavors we will indulge in, help us anticipate the joy and holiday bliss even before we arrive in foreign lands.
Here’s a short list of destinations to consider if you are already thinking of a wine escapade in 2017:
Don’t just take our word for it: Bordeaux, the quintessential wine city in France, has recently been named the “Number 1 Destination to Visit in 2017” by three -yes, three- renowned international media: famous travel guide Lonely Planet, Los Angeles newspaper L.A. Times and American news channel CNN's Travel section.
A short drive away from fantastic beaches, the highest sand dune in Europe, and world-famous vineyards and châteaux, this bourgeois melting-pot in the southwest of France is the perfect excuse to skip tourist-flooded Paris, and discover the French art-de-vivre with a less hectic pace:
Bordeaux is almost 600 km away from Paris, but don't let that discourage you: as of July 2017, it will only take 2 hours and 4 minutes to get from Paris to Bordeaux on a high-velocity train (TGV), so you can make it a same-day escapade if you are pressed for time. However, try as you may, one day will not be enough to unveil all the secrets and incredible treasures Bordeaux has to offer, so we strongly suggest you extend your stay to at least 3 days, if not a week. Come discover the city, its beaches and vines, indulge in gourmet meals and superb wines, and see for yourself why international media are obsessing over this French enclave.
Miroir d'eau, Bordeaux
This breathtaking valley in northern Portugal is not only listed as UNESCO World Heritage but it is also the oldest demarcated wine region in the world. Accessible by boat, train, car and even helicopter, the Douro Valley is an impossible-to-miss destination on every wine lovers’ bucket list, and it is clear why: the winding river, the glorious landscapes of terraced vineyards, the fantastic local food, the quaint quintas and Porto, lots of it.
Plan ahead so you can do all of these and more!
Granted: some people only think of South Africa as the lush land where savanna animals run free and can be photographed from the safety of a safari jeep. Others, include beaches, rugby, Nelson Mandela and the apartheid in the equation, but more and more, discerning travelers are considering South Africa as a top food & wine destination, and rightly so.
Stellenbosch is a mere thirty minutes’ drive from Cape Town, yet it is already far enough from the hustle and bustle of the city. It is unofficially known as South Africa’s Wine Tourism Capital and its wine route is the country’s oldest. Along this route, there are over 150 wine farms eager to share their best vintages, production’s secrets and stunning landscapes with you. Immerse yourself in the vine life and discover the soul of the region's winelands with unique cellar-door experiences conceived to please the wine lovers and amateurs alike.
For those looking for an original approach to wine tourism, there are several award-winning wine estates that offer typical “Pinotage & Biltong” pairings which combine two South African essentials: their flagship grape -a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsaut- and their dried, cured meat specialty -made of beef, game or ostrich.
If you still feel like a safari cannot be left out of your South African trip, then consider joining a sustainable safari around a large wine estate property to discover their biodiversity program, vines and history.
In this northern Argentinian province, landscapes are unusual and breathtaking: a road trip down the main route will offer memorable sights and stops, like the Quebrada de las Conchas and its incredible Anfiteatro or the Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat). The deserted land is covered in cacti and reddish rock formations that transport you to an altogether different time and place. Alpacas roam freely and locals dress in the typical and colorful clothing of the altiplano (high plain). In the namesake capital city, the High Mountain Archaeological Museum features Incan artifacts and, one at a time, it exhibits the incredibly well-preserved mummies of three young kids that were offered to the gods in sacrifice, by the Incans themselves over five hundred years ago.
Salta, and more specifically, the Cafayate Valley is the land of Torrontés, the only 100% Argentinian grape variety, which produces an incredibly perfumed dry white wine. The country’s most recognized grape, Malbec, is also king in this region that has fantastic sun exposure -Salta is sun-drenched year-round- and little UV protection due to the altitude, which results in thick-skinned grapes and incredibly rich and fruit-forward red wines. The world’s highest vineyards (at 3111 m.a.s.l.), and the oldest working winery in Argentina, are located in the Calchaquí Valleys, in the heart of Salta’s Wine Route. For a pairing made in heaven, match their wines with local specialties such as empanadas salteñas or Argentina’s quintessential dish, a thick, juicy steak.
Salta, Argentina – Photo: Barbara Pintos ©
Penedès is both a Catalonian region and a Spanish wines Denominación de Origen, DO (“Designation of Origin”), and it has long been considered one of the country's best wine-producing regions after Rioja. Its name may not necessarily ring a bell in itself, but its main production certainly will: cava. Yes, Spanish sparkling comes almost entirely from Penedès, one of the most ancient wine making areas in Europe; then, it goes without saying that a visit to this breathtaking region a mere 30 minutes from Barcelona, will be bubble-filled.
Penedès is a magnificent region with fantastic beaches, imposing mountains and seemingly infinite vineyards that make for a singular countryside landscape. Local wineries and cava producers have contributed to bringing international fame to the area thanks to their sparkling wines.
These are but a few of the original activities you can expect to take part in when visiting the region:
Penedès is definitely a memorable destination for fine wine, culture and nature lovers.
Cava cellar in Sant Sadurní D'Anoia, Spain – Photo: Barbara Pintos ©
These 5 incredible destinations around the world should be enough to get you started with your next wine adventure planning.