First up is choosing the region you want to explore — and the options are endless.
Celebrity chef José Andrés has said, “Every time I open a bottle of wine, it is an amazing trip somewhere.” And while we agree that vino allows us to travel through our palates, nothing matches the experience of taking a trip to explore one (or more) of the world’s wine-producing regions, filled with stunning landscapes, lessons in viniculture, luxurious accommodations, incredible food pairings, and, of course, plenty of tasting.
First up is choosing the region you want to explore — and the options are endless. (For instance, within Italy alone there are 20 different wine-producing regions.) Decide on the country you’d like to visit first, and then plan out the trip from there, determining the wine region, the sub-region(s) and appellations, and, finally, the specific wineries you’d like to visit. For inspiration, here are primers on three under-the-radar regions, perfect for fall and winter getaways.
Elgin Valley, South Africa
Veer a bit off the beaten track in South Africa’s Winelands (just an hour from Cape Town) to find this lush orchard- and vineyard-filled region that produces cool-climates wines. Situated at the base of the Hottentots Holland Mountains, the region’s higher elevation and more gravely soil lead to crisp sauvignon blancs and earthy pinot noirs.
Where to stay: Delaire Graff Estate
This sprawling Relais & Chateau property is located on its own vineyard, so you don’t even have to leave to start sipping local wines. All accommodations (lodges, to be specific) feature private plunge pools, many with views of Table Mountain. While you’re just under an hour’s drive to the wineries of Elgin Valley, with an art-filled wine lounge, sculpture garden filled with more than 350 indigenous plants, full-service spa and two restaurants complete with Winelands vistas, you may not want to leave the estate.
When to go: September to November
Wineries to visit: Almenkerk Wine Estate; Oak Valley Estate
Italy’s largest island has been producing wine for thousands of years, but it wasn’t until more recently that its indigenous grapes became the stars of local wine production: namely Grillo and Nero d’Avola. Grillo produce white wines with notes of white peaches, citrus and hints of aromatic herbs, while Nero d’Avola result in structured, full-bodied, ruby red wines with healthy acidity and tannins.
Where to Stay: Country House Villadorata.
Formerly an 18th-century winepress, the three-residence property is situated on a 22-hectare organic farm, home to olive, almond and citrus trees, along with vineyards cultivated using biodynamic methods. After a day of hotel-arranged wine touring, enjoy the bottles you bring back on your residence’s private pergola looking out over the Sicilian countryside.
When to go: July to November
Wineries to visit: Planeta
Australia’s smallest state has a lot going for it: jaw-dropping scenery (complete with a whopping 19 national parks), incredible hiking trails and a booming food and drink scene. It’s also an up-and-coming wine region. Thanks to Tasmania’s nippier climate (it’s located below mainland Australia and records some of the chilliest temperatures in the country) and distinct terroirs, the island is producing some heavy-hitting cool-climate chardonnays, pinot noirs and sparkling wines across its 230 vineyards.
Where to stay: Saffire Freycinet.
This 20-room boutique retreat on the east coast of Tasmania is tucked into the landscape, which consists of quiet bays and pink granite mountain peaks. Dine at on-site restaurant Palate, where you’ll enjoy multiple courses matched with wines made just a few minutes away.
When to go: December to February
When to go: Freycinet Vineyard; Jansz