Summer seems to be as ideal of a time to indulge in your wine fervor as any. As is the case with other pursuits wine tourism goes through trending cycles and destinations. We rounded up a vacation spot for every lover of wine and travel. Here are our top five choices.
Viña Haras de Pirque
With massive Andean peaks forming the backdrop, the Maipo Valley ranks as one of Chile’s most picturesque spots. It’s also home to some of the country’s top wines. Cabernet Sauvignon is king here, a persistently sunny climate and cool evenings creating the ideal breeding ground for sumptuous red wines. Around 30 miles from the buzz of Santiago, Maipo’s traditional haciendas, the occasional Chilean cowboy and a countryside pace make the region feel a world away. Maipo is red-wine territory, boosted by gravel terraces, warm days and cool nights that provide the perfect combination for perfumed wines. Puente Alto is the most prominent Maipo subregion. It produces a trio of iconic Chilean wines: Almaviva, Concha y Toro’s Don Melchor and Viña Errazuriz’s Viñedo Chadwick. These wines should be high on your list to taste, alongside other signatures like Viña Santa Rita’s Casa Real, Viña Aquitania’s Lazuli and Domus Aurea. All are varietal Cabs or Cabernet Sauvignon-based blends, for which the valley is best known.
Formerly known as Estremadura, the coastal wine region of Lisboa is reflective of the diversity found throughout Portugal. Today, it stands at the intersection of heritage preservation and welcomed change. The area is named for Lisbon, the closest key city and export hub. Until recently, it was one of Europe’s last great undiscovered regions, but its Instagramable moments, sea-wide vistas, sprawling vineyards and the iconic Belém Tower are now across all social media handles. Lisboa’s position along the Atlantic provides myriad soils, microclimates and topographies that justify nine Denominaçôes de Origem Controlada(DOCs). The appellation’s unique grapes include Ramisco for savory reds and Malvasia de Colares for saline whites. The Serra de Montejunto hills, running north from Lisbon, divide the area. The wet, chilly Óbidos region excels at sparkling wines, while drier Alenquer yields robust, full-bodied reds from Portuguese classics like Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz.
A stone’s throw from Orange County and San Diego, the Temecula Valley sits in western Riverside County. Winegrowing goes back almost 50 years here. The rather warm region is cooled by Pacific Ocean wind and fog that sails through the “Rainbow Gap” of the Santa Margarita Mountains. Today, thanks to more than 40 wineries and their multifaceted tasting rooms, the hospitality industry is thriving, with restaurants, hotels, golf courses, breweries, distilleries and even a casino. You can find almost every familiar variety in California here, from Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon to Syrah, Zinfandel, Grenache and Merlot. Red blends are popular, whether they’re classic styles like Rhône and Bordeaux mixes, or amalgams that break all of the Old World rules.
Le Fraghe Brol Grande
Lake Garda, Italy’s largest lake, is located in the northern part of the country. Ringed by mountains to the north, the area enjoys a very mild microclimate. Besides olive and lemon trees, which are unusual this far north, the region is covered with vineyards and is home to some of the country’s classic wines: red wines from Bardolino, rosatos from Chiaretto and white wines from Lugana and Custoza. With good weather, quaint lakeside towns, ancient ruins, medieval castles and magnificent views, Lake Garda is a haven for those who love good food, great wine, watersports and history. Bardolino is the area’s most famous red wine and it boasts wild berry and floral aromas that translate into juicy red berry and baking spice on the palate.
Under an hour from Lyon, the country’s self-proclaimed French gastronomic capital, Beaujolais is perfect for either a day trip or a longer stay. It’s a pleasure all on its own to get lost on winding roads amid hills and vines. But turn any corner, and you’ll find small, buzzy villages and wineries that welcome visitors. As the quality of the wines has increased, so have the guest facilities. Fine dining and local restaurants abound, as do comfortable hotels with their own restaurants. The north of Beaujolais is the place for the finest wines, which include the Beaujolais cru vineyards and villages of Morgon. For those who like low- or no-sulfur wines, Beaujolais is the place to visit. Further south, in the Pierres Dorées region, the mountains are steeper and the wines more rustic.