5 Essential Wine Regions around the World—and a Bonus 5 that May Surprise You

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By Suzanna Hayes-Goldfinch

If you dream of traipsing through vineyards and delicately sipping on glasses of wine as you discuss the nose of your beverage, perhaps with a small sample of cheese to help bring out all the flavours of your drink, then you’ll need to know the best places to visit.  

We’ve picked out some of our favourite wine regions around the world so you can enjoy the delights of wine tasting (and guzzling if you prefer), direct from the producers. Some of these destinations you may have heard of; some might be a little more niche. But they are all great places to try new wines. 

Domaso, Italy 

You can barely move an inch in Italy without tripping over a grapevine, so the country is an obvious first choice for wine connoisseurs. But while the hordes of tourists head off to Prosecco-land, why not visit Lake Como instead and the family-run vineyards in Domaso? You’ll need to take a ferry over the lake to get there, and then you can enjoy a cellar tour, learn about wine production and sample the lakeside fruits for yourself. 

Alsace, France 

Again, it’s difficult not to be tempted by the allure of Champagne when in France, but if bubbles aren’t your thing, Alsace is a beautiful alternative. The 170km wine route can take you on a magical tour through various vineyards, with castles, churches and quaint villages adding interest along the way. We recommend taking a few days in this region, cycling between vineyards and then going back to your favourite at the end. 

Napa Valley, USA 

You can’t talk about wine regions without giving special mention to Napa Valley in California. With over 400 vineyards to tempt you, you could easily spend a month in the area and still not try every wine variety. California’s climate makes for a long growing season that creates lots of different types of wine, so whether you prefer your drinks dry, medium or sweet, you’ll find one to suit somewhere! 

Ribera del Duero, Spain 

Spain is full of incredible wine-growing spaces, but Ribera del Duero is where you’ll find all the best reds. This region has only recently begun to make its mark on the international market, but is now considered one of the top places for Spanish wines. And with such paradisical surroundings, a visit is surely needed. Because this region takes you slightly off the beaten tourist track, you’ll need to book appointments for most of the vineyards here. This adds to the feeling of exclusivity that you get when you’re there. 

Swan Valley, Australia 

There are lots of vineyards along the rivers in Australia, but one that is often overlooked on an international scale is the Swan Valley near Perth. It’s one of the closest wine-regions to a capital city in the world and the country’s oldest, but it’s expanded to include coffee, honey, chocolate and cider production too, so any day out here will tantalize all your tastebuds! Make sure you visit Lancaster Wines and the Edgecombe Brothers winery. 

Tarija, Bolivia

Known primarily for its large Salt Flats, Bolivia has hidden its secret wine troves for several centuries, found in the high altitudes of Tarija for. With grapes growing in altitudes of 1600 to 3000 meters (5,249 to 9,842 feet), wine from this region grows under a unique climate given its closer proximity to the sun and cooler temperatures. You’ll find a unique journey of Bolivian culture and tradition interspersed with your tasting here.

Gobi Desert, China 

One of the world’s most interesting wine regions sits on the edge of the Mongolian desert. The extreme weather conditions here mean the workers have to bury the vines every winter so the sand can protect them from strong winds. The intense solar radiation makes for a deeper, darker red wine. This region has led to a boom in the Chinese wine market, so that it can now almost rival some of the more well-known exporters. 

Stellenbosch, South Africa 

If you’ve yet to try one of the wines from Stellenbosch, then a trip is seriously in order. These wines are typically found in Michelin-starred restaurants and airport lounges, so you know you’re getting something a little bit special directly from the source here. You can attend custom tasting events at some of the bigger wineries like Ernie Els Wines and the Simonsig Wine Estate and you will be mesmerized by the beautiful mountainous scenery and incredible Dutch architecture of the region. Stellenbosch also has a fascinating history to discover while you’re there. 

Casablanca Valley, Chile 

 No visit to Chile is complete without a trip to one of the major wine regions of the country and Casablanca Valley is a real treat. It is responsible for most of Chile’s exported white wines, with Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay grapes loving the granite clay soils and sea breeze that sweeps the Valley. If you prefer red wine, head up the slopes where the warmer temperatures are great for Malbecs. Most of the grapes used were originally exported from France, although you’d be lucky to find them in Europe anymore, making this a unique place for wine lovers. 

Rheinhessen , Germany 

If you are partial to a Riesling, chances are you’ve tasted one of the many German wines already but enjoying them in their native surroundings is something you must do at least once. This region of Germany is home to the iconic Liebfraumilch and lots of other well-known varieties, but there’s also a few less common wines that you’ll definitely want to try. This region sits alongside the Rhine River, with the steep banks making the perfect home for all kinds of grapes, and it is one of the oldest wine-making areas in the country, so it has a long, interesting history and the people there know how to make the best wines. 

These wine-making regions are all in the top ten wine-producing countries, which account for 80% of wine production worldwide. So, if you can’t find what you want in one of these destinations, then it might not yet exist!

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