Wine is the ultimate equalizer; it brings people from all walks of life together. Oenophiles (stemming from Greek for the love “philia” of wine “oinos”) congregate in droves to sample, taste and talk about the beloved nectar. There is a whole culture based on the mighty grape so it makes sense then that there are vacation hot spots for the world’s wine connoisseur’s. I could go on but for now, I’ll put a cork in it and fill you in on 5 of the top rated destinations to put on your bucket list. Wine puns are in such pour taste, aren’t they?
Greece (Greek Macedonia & Thessaloniki)
Our first pick goes to the country that gave us the oenophile name; Greece. Santorini and Crete are obvious hot spots, however, it’s Greek Macedonia, located in the north of the country in the mainland, that will impress even the most experienced sommelier. Macedonia grows some of the best grapes on the planet due to its unique soil makeup and the weather. Greek varieties such as Assyrtiko and Agiorgitiko can be tongue twisters but have earned their spot on many a North American wine list in recent years.
The ancient port city of Thessaloniki, has been growing a local native variety called Xinomavro for thousands of years and has quickly earned it some serious credentials among wine aficionados and collectors; some spending thousands on a bottle. Makes sense since this region was making wine when Rome was still a superpower.
Both Greek Macedonia and Thessaloniki have multiple wine routes to explore, that also offer great accommodation, restaurants, and cultural landmarks,
Moldova (Chisinau and area)
Moldova lies nestled between Romania and Ukraine. The country’s capital, Chisinau, is just a two-hour flight from London, Milan, and Vienna. In 2018 Moldova’s tourism board saw a much-needed spike in tourism due in large part to (you guessed it) wine tourism. Despite it’s proximity to some of the world’s hottest vacation destinations, Moldova is one of the world’s best-kept secrets when it comes to tourist destinations.
Wine is like water in Moldova, in fact, the international airport in Chisinau is named after fermented grape juice. Moldova is home to the world’s largest wine cellar, spanning 150 miles in length and houses over 2 million bottles. The site is so big that it hosts an annual 10-kilometer wine run. If that doesn’t keep you busy enough, Moldova has 112 thousand hectares of vineyards between 4 wine regions; Valul lui Traian (southwest), Stefan Voda (southeast) and Codru (center) and northern Balti. All are within a 1 – 2-hour drive from the capital and boast over 50 varieties of grape with ten percent of those being indigenous to Moldova.
Uruguay (Maldonado region)
Uruguay is a wine-lovers paradise. Despite the fact that it is South America’s fourth-largest producer of wine, Uruguay doesn’t receive the attention that Argentina and Chile do. The Maldonado region is home to coastal villages and miles upon miles of stunning beaches, that compliment the wineries and wine tours in the area. You can also combine a trip to Maldonado with a visit to Buenos Aires, which lies a short ferry ride across the Río de la Plata. The area offers up some of the best varieties in Uruguay that have been compared to the top producers in Argentina and Chile and boasts world-class food pairings at nearby luxury hotels and restaurants.
For those very unfamiliar, Uruguay offers a unique Latin American-European culture—with strong Italian and Spanish influences. It has a mild climate and the lowest level of corruption and poverty in South America. Because of its stable democracy, it is known as ‘the Switzerland of the Americas’ and is considered one of the best ex-pat places to live.
France (Beaune & Reims)
No wine list would be complete without France being included. Among some of the best wine producing regions, is the charming walled town of Beaune. Beaune is surrounded by the vineyards of the famous Cote d’Or appellation, famous for its Pinot Noir-based wines. November is a great time to visit as the town is filled with fellow wine lovers, professionals, and connoisseurs for the annual Hospices de Beaune Wine Auction. Although it is highly recommended that you make an entire wine pilgrimage to the country of France itself, Beaune offers several wine-tasting rooms where you can sample the best wines from the region.
Reims is a 35-minute train ride from Paris and lies in the heart of Champagne. If you like sparkling wine, this is THE place. Reims is home to 10 of the world’s great champagne houses that offer tasting experiences ranging from a simple sampling of wines to four-course dinners down in their caves. Each course is paired with a different cuvee of their champagne. Reims also boats a very unique wine bar called The Perching Bar, where you climb a rope bridge into a tree house that serves only champagne.
Thailand (Various regions)
One would not expect to find Thailand on the wine lover’s bucket list but the truth of the matter is that Thailand has become a foodie mecca. Home to restaurants owned by some of the top chefs in the world, Thailand’s wine scene is like the food it serves; hot.
The soil in Thailand is not optimum for wine grapes and their beloved vines (it’s all about the vine). But with the help of some very dedicated viticulture (the science behind vine growing) there are 3 well-established vineyards that have begun to create a buzz for Thailand in the world of wine:
They say everything happens for a reisling so perhaps this is a sign that its time to get in touch with our travel experience specialists and book your next getaway!