Traveling for wine is becoming more popular as many travelers seek something a little more from their travel experiences. The concept of “wine tourism” is just as popular as adventure tourism or ecotourism to the right kind of travelers. And, finding the best wine tours is an important part of the travel research process. Please want to go wine tasting while traveling and they love wine tasting tours, whether half day, full day or multi-day.
Sure, a trip to the wine store is easy and convenient, particularly if you are looking to pick up a few bottles for your wine fridge at home. But wine tasting when traveling opens up a whole new world. One where it’s possible to try different types of wines, many of which you may never have heard of before. And, the best wine tasting tours even offer a chance to meet the winemaker, a truly special experience.
Recommended Wine Tasting Tours
This comprehensive post includes our recommendations, along with recommendations from some top travel bloggers, about the best regions to taste wine when traveling.
A few things to note. First, there are wine tours of every type, variety, and budget. It’s possible to wine taste by private jet. Or, it’s possible to do a Google search for “wine tasting near me” to find great wines close to home. But, in this post, we share recommendations for amazing wine tours, all over the world. And, our expert wine travel bloggers share recommendations for wine country destinations on 6 continents! (Perhaps someday we can do a post on the best wine tours in Antartica…)
At the end of this post, we include a detailed comparison table for recommendations on top wine tours around the world.
Mendoza Wine Tours
Talek over at Travels With Talek recommends Mendoza Argentina, particularly for Malbec lovers. People who love Mendoza, love wine. Wine lovers travel to Mendoza to visit the wineries and experience the wine culture in general. But once there, Mendoza beguiles with its expansive parks, stunning architecture, charming boutique hotels, and fabulous cuisine. And, we agree with Talek, having traveled to Mendoza 3 times.
Wine is a big deal in Mendoza. The industry has been around for more than half a millennia. Tender loving care of the precious vines landed Mendoza in the position of the 5th largest wine producer in the world. Along with that position came the coveted award, 8th Wine City of the World in 2005. Since then, it’s been named as one of the Great Wine Capitals of the World and offers some amazing Argentina wine tours.
Mendoza’s top wine is Malbec. This grape came from France where it had a second-rate reputation, hence the name “Malbec” which means “poor taste.” Once in Mendoza, the perfect-for-Malbec soil and weather ensured the vine flourished and produced the top wine it is today. The wineries and the city’s various tourism associations make it easy to visit. Renting a car is the most popular option but with hundreds of wineries, you’re more likely to maximize your visit with a guide. Options that are growing in popularity for visiting the Malbec wineries include horseback riding and bike wine tours. Or, opt for the hop-on-hop-off winery tour bus to partake with wild abandon. No one wants to be tipsy on a horse.
Where to Stay in Mendoza
Virginia Wine Tours For Wine Lovers
Maggie from Pink Caddy Travelogue surprised me with her recommendation for one of the best wine tours. When it comes to the best wine tours in the US, everyone talks about the California wine country and California wine tours. But, Maggie recommended the Virginia wine country for great wine tours.
Virginia’s wine industry was once home to only hobby viticulturists and small-farm vineyards. But things are changing, and fast. In 1980, Virginia was home to only a handful of wineries. In 2005, that had grown to 100. Today there are over 300, making it the 5th largest wine producer in America. Virginia’s early vintages showed clear evidence of the region’s youth and inexperience in winemaking. It is now taking its place on the world’s wine stage. Virginia’s best winemakers are those obsessed with their vineyards. Their focus is on terroir-driven wines. The talk in Virginia is all about growing conditions rather than what happens in the wine cellar.
Virginia is broken up into several viticultural areas, with Loudoun County being the largest. Since it’s only 50 miles from Washington DC, it’s a convenient day-trip for tourists to the city. Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Loudoun’s acres of sprawling horse estates and rural backroads provide a respite from the bustle of the Beltway. The fact that it’s home to several award-winning wineries is a major bonus.
Maggie recommends two of her favorite Virginia wineries to visit, Tarara and Linden. Most Virginia wineries don’t require reservations. Wine tastings range from $5-20. Hours are usually 11-6 on the weekends, but just be sure to check the specific winery’s webpage before showing up. It’s still a good idea, though, to look at Virginia wine tours to make the most of the experience. Or, check out more recommended Charlottesville wineries.
Czech Wine: Yes That’s a Thing!
Everyone knows that the Czech Republic is known for beer. But, after touring some lesser known European wine regions, it seemed fitting to explore a Czech wine region and to see what it is all about.
It’s surprising because Czech wine has a long history, dating from the Roman times. But, much of the wine production ceased during Communism. It’s only been the last two decades that the wine industry has had a bit of a renaissance. The Czech red wines might not be the best-tasting wine, but the white wines, and particularly the sparkling wines are pretty darn good.
Wine is grown in both Bohemia (where Prague is located) and Moravia (where Brno is located). It’s easy to drink Czech wine anywhere in Moravia, including Mikulov and Brno, as restaurant menus offer great selections of local wine, often at very good prices. There are also many vinoteka, or wine bars, sprinkled around the region. And, there is the National Wine Centre in Valtice.
Czech wineries have open cellar days, in April, September, and November. It’s also possible to take bike tours that guide you through the vineyards, along the Moravian wine trails. There is also a wine market in Valtice in May.
Otherwise, it is a lot more difficult to winery hop for Czech wine than it is for Californian wine. There are over a thousand winemakers in the Moravia wine region alone. Similar to the Emporda wine region in Catalunya and the Bologna hills in Italy, many of the wineries are small, family-owned operations. They are more focused on making wine or make wine on the side of their main business. As a result, it’s hard to taste wines by just showing up at a Czech wine cellar. In this case, it’s best to book a wine tour.
Bordeaux Wine Tours
Our friend Jennifer, from Luxe Adventure Traveler, recommends Bordeaux as a top wine travel destination. This is no surprise as she lives in Bordeaux. And, we agree with Jennifer! We had an amazing time ourselves exploring Bordeaux, one of the most famous French wine regions.
With over 7000 châteaux, the interactive La Cité du Vin dedicated to all things wine, and countless wine bars serving up some of the region’s best bottles. It’s easy to see why Bordeaux is the World Capital of Wine. What isn’t always easy is picking a château to visit. Many aren’t open to the public for visits. Others don’t offer a visit in English. And the selection that is open and speaks English is still an overwhelming list to choose from.
Jennifer suggests visiting at least one châteaux on both the Left and Right Banks. Château Kirwan is located on Bordeaux’s famed Left Bank and is one of the 1855 classified châteaux. Only 30 minutes drive from Bordeaux, this third-growth 1855 Grand Cru Classé château is family run. The château grounds are stunning. And you have a unique opportunity to include a tasting of a special vintage, such as a vintage from your birth year or a year of a special anniversary during your visit.
On the Right Bank, head to Château Cantenac. The family-run Saint-Émilion Grand Cru château is incredibly charming. And the wine tasting tour is guided by one of the family members for a truly special look into their winemaking process and family home. Château Cantenac produces a wonderfully affordable wine you’ll definitely want to bring home as a souvenir or wine gift from your trip to Bordeaux.
The Most Famous of Wine Regions – Champagne
Elisa from World in Paris didn’t need to convince me that Champagne should be on our list of best wine regions for travelers! We haven’t been to Champagne (yet), so her advice is helpful. One of her favorite day trips from Paris in the fall is a road trip to the Champagne region. It’s a fantastic way to discover champagne and good wines while enjoying the region’s beautiful countryside.
The area from Meaux to Reims is scattered with small villages with beautiful stone houses built around a church. It’s great to visit a few villages on a trip to get the essence of the region. These small towns are also a great place to fill your stomachs with a typical French lunch.
Throughout the day, you can visit famous Champagne houses like Moët & Chandon, Maison Ruinart or Perrier-Jouët. These are the wines always at the top of a wine list. But it’s also important to visit some independent (and anonymous) winemakers to discover another reality of winemaking. Many of the prestigious companies offer public visits at very reasonable prices. But, the small winemakers are more easy going and you can pop in without an appointment.
It’s best to start a wine road trip from Meaux, still in the Ile de France region, and drive without any plan looking for independent winemakers. Stop where you want. Chances are you will be welcome with a small, and chances are even some cheese. And, of course, a great glass of wine! Although Elisa often drives their own car, so they can fill their trunk with tasty wine bottles. But, that means the driver has to give up wine drinking for the day. That’s why booking a wine tour from Paris might be a great option! Whatever you decide, we are sure you will love Champagne.
Emilia Romagna and Italian Wine Tourism
Many Italian wine tours focus on Tuscany, or the Veneto region, which is home to Prosecco. But Emilia Romagna offers some amazing Italian wine tours, often with a focus on wines you might not know. Although Chianti offers famous global wines, Emilia Romagna offers lesser-known wines.
Emilia Romagna is home to Lambrusco, an amazing sparkling Italian red wine. There are “secret” wines like Albana or Negretto. And, there are mainstream Italian grapes like Sangiovese, which is used to make Chianti. This region is home to some good tasting wine, even if not as well known.
And, wine experiences are a little more personalized than most Tuscan wine tours. Some large wineries offer a fancy wine tasting room. At others, it’s possible to sit around a small table in a garage with the winemaker himself.
The Bologna Hills offers amazing nearby wineries to Bologna. And it’s possible to book Florence wine tours that end up in Emilia Romagna. After all, it’s just up the road.
The one thing about Emilia Romagna is that it is a less developed wine travel region. That means it’s important to hire a good guide or a good wine tour company. We always recommend Helena, of Yummy Italy, for high-quality personalized wine tours. She is the best there is in Emilia Romagna and can put together the perfect wine package.
If Helena is not available, or if you are short on time, check out this Bologna Wine Tour for only $32. But, Helena really offers the best wine tours – totally customized!
Wine Tourism Spain – Lesser Known Wine Country
When people talk about Spanish wine regions they tend to focus on the big guys, like Rioja, or Penedes, where cava is produced. But, there are some really interesting options for wine country tours in Catalonia, the region of Spain that surrounds Barcelona. The region includes Penedes but also includes Valencia, and the Emporda wine region of the Costa Brava, which reaches all the way to France. Be prepared to see big things from these regions in the future, as they mature. You’re sure to see them in the wine news soon!
Valencia Wine Tours
Wendy over at World Wide Wendy recommends exploring Valencia for wine lovers. There are great opportunities for wine drinkers traveling to Valencia to explore just outside of the city. Although the region is most known for its paella and oranges, they produce some nice wines too. Their wines include easy-drinking reds, whites, and rosés and a small quantity of cava.
Wendy’s experience exploring Valencia shows the importance of planning ahead and booking the right wine tasting tours. She planned to book with Tours in Valencia, but their wine guide was on her honeymoon. But, she recommended a great vineyard as a backup. Then, the vineyard was officially closed. But, when Wendy contacted the office of Chozas Carrascal, Catalan hospitality was on full display. The owner’s daughter offered a short tour, even though they were closed. In the end, Wendy experienced a two hour, impromptu tour and wine tasting, including amazing olive oil!
The lesser known wine regions are so worthwhile to explore. But, it’s not always possible to just drive around and walk into tasting rooms, as you can in Napa Valley or Sonoma. It’s important to plan ahead to have the right wine tasting experience.
Wine Tasting in Emporda
Just up the road from Valencia, and surrounding our new hometown of Girona, is the DO Emporda wine region. A large part of why we moved to the Costa Brava is because of the burgeoning wine scene in this stretch of land between Barcelona and France. In particular, we were directed to taste as many Emporda wines as we could. That meant a lot of research and a lot of visits to wineries.
Because the region is not as ready for wine tourists as Napa Valley wineries or Sonoma wine country, it’s prime for exploration by intrepid wine travelers. The DO Emporda wineries do offer a wine trail that can be followed. And, they host a series of wine events throughout the year. Or, just email us for some recommendations on our favorite winemakers! They offer a great alternative to traditional Spanish winemakers.
Book this half day wine tour and brunch, leaving from Girona, for about $149.
Alentejo Portugal Wine Tasting Tours
According to a USA Today survey, the Alentejo area in Portugal is the best wine region to visit among 20 nominees. Readers voted for the best region daily during the competition’s four-week run. The Alentejo region can be found on Portugal’s south-western coast and is considered an intriguing rural region of the country. It contains olive groves, vineyards, small villages, wildflowers, and forests.
If you plan to stay in Alentejo, don’t expect to find a developed coastline of hotels. Instead, there are small family run wineries and luxury wine hotels. Amazing rustic cuisine, and such a unique region to taste wine. And, it offers perfect wine country vacations away from the bustle of Lisbon.
Book this Alentejo Wine Tour from Lisbon starting from $188.
Douro Valley Wine Tourism
When Cláudia from Couple RTW suggested the Douro Valley as one of the best wine country tours, we wholeheartedly agreed! We loved our time touring the Douro Valley, and dream of returning
The Douro Valley in Portugal is where the famous Port wine is produced. That per se would be enough of a reason to visit. But this region is also one of the most beautiful in Portugal. The Douro valley is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, and it extends from Porto to almost the border with Spain, in Miranda do Douro.
Port wine is a fortified, sweet red wine and is often served as an aperitif or dessert wine. Port wine is exclusively produced in the Douro Valley. And it’s the only wine that can include “Port” on the wine label. The unique taste of the wine is due to the peculiar vineyards that are planted in the steep hills on the banks of the Douro River. Plus, the microclimate of this region is optimal for the grapes.
When visiting this wine region, you should start by going to Vila Nova de Gaia opposite to Porto, where the wine is stored and aged in the barrels before being bottled. Here you can visit the famous wine cellars of Ferreira or Cálem and taste some Port. After visiting the Port wine cellars you should visit the vineyards where the wine is produced. The best way to visit the vineyards and the Douro Valley is cruising up the river or taking a train. The views are simply breathtaking.
The best time to visit this region is in September when the grape harvest begins and the landscape is beautiful with the Autumn colors. The autumn wine tasting events offer unique wine experiences, including grape-stomping.
Here, the wine trails are in fact the river, making the wine region so unique! There are so many great Porto wine tours, both in Porto and along the Douro.
Rhine Valley Wine Tours
Corinne from Reflections En Route has spent time living in Germany, so she recommends the German wine region in the Rhine Valley. The Rhine Valley is probably the best-known wine region in the country. Tourists and locals alike flock to the beauty of the Rhine River Valley to see the vineyards climbing the steep hills on both banks of the river.
Located in the center of the country, only about an hour’s drive from Frankfurt, it’s extremely easy to get to. To see the valley, you can rent a car and drive. Or take the bus from romantic Medieval town to town. Or, take one of the many river boats either on a day ride or a longer river cruise that lasts for multiple days. There certainly are plenty of gorgeous towns where you can stop and try the wines.
This area has perfected fruity white wine using primarily the Riesling grape. No matter what your preferences are, the Rhine wines will please, even if you are not a fan of Riesling wine. From the very sweet Spaetlese and Auslese to the half-dry (Halbtrocken) and full dry white wine (Trocken), there is plenty to keep you happy. The wine labels will normally say whether the wine bottle is sweet or dry.
One of the best places to explore the Rhine wine region is the charming town of Ruedesheim am Rhein. The local white wines are traditionally served in thick-stemmed wine glasses. They clear on top and dark green on the bottom. Check out these Rhine Valley wineries in Ruedesheimer wineries:
- Weingut Herbert Philipp at Steingasse 13. If you go anytime from summer to late fall, they will serve you in their wine garden, with grape vines intertwined forming a lush green canopy above your head. It’s romantic and fun. They will also serve you some traditional snacks to try with your wines.
- Jacob Lill at Schmidtstr. 17. Again, they have a wonderful courtyard to enjoy your tastings al fresco, just like wine should be. The knowledgeable staff will guide you to some of the best wines in the region.
Book a Rhine Valley Day trip from Frankfurt starting at $198.
The South Downs – England Wine Tours
Another surprise entry into our best wine tours, Kathryn from Sussex Bloggers recommended Sussex in England!
The English have always been great wine drinkers, particular with port wine. But it is only with the increasingly warm weather of recent years that they have started producing quality sparkling wines of their own in the south of England.
The chalky soils of the South Downs, whose hills protect the vineyards from the coastal breezes, are producing some particularly good sparkling whites. So good in fact that two years ago a group of French wine experts in a blind tasting rated some Sussex wines as better than French Champagnes. They actually mistook the Sussex sparkling whites for Champagne.
One of those wines was from the Nyetimber Estate of West Sussex, which was first recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086. Some 900 years later they planted their first vines. Now, with 170 hectares of vineyards in West Sussex and Hampshire they are entirely devoted to the Champagne grapes: chardonnay, pinot meunier and pinot noir. Driven by a passion for perfection the estate is producing world-class wines only using their own grapes from their own vineyards and only those that are up to their exacting standards are used in their wine production. The winery tours often sell out, so plan ahead. Or, book a wine tour from London to explore all of Sussex. Definitely try to squeeze this into a trip to London.
New Zealand Wine Tours
Australia is well known for wine tourism and Australian wine tours, but not many people think of New Zealand for their wine travels. Kylie from Our Overseas Adventures recommended Waiheke Island for great wine tours.
Waiheke Island is a small island located only a one hour’s ferry ride from downtown Auckland. It’s home to over 20 boutique vineyards. The wine production includes a great mix of different award-winning wines. Types of wines predominately include Bordeaux style reds and Syrahs. But rose, pinot gris, and chardonnay wine varietals are increasingly popular.
Stellenbosch – South Africa’s Wine Country
James from the Portugalist agrees the Douro and Alentejo are amazing wine destinations. Even though he blogs about Portugal, though, he recommends Stellenbosch, South Africa for wine travel, because it’s just on another level. The region includes Stellenbosch as well as the Cape Winelands village of Franschhoek.
There are literally hundreds of vineyards dotted around Stellenbosch, a small town that’s situated roughly 45 minutes’ drive from Cape Town. Choosing which vineyards to visit is definitely a challenge. Most vineyards in Stellenbosch and the wider Winelands area don’t just produce wine: there’s usually something else besides just wine tasting on offer. Some vineyards include a restaurant. Others produce another product like craft beer or olive oil. Even others have wildlife onsite like zebras, springbok, lions, tigers, and leopards. In short: you’ll want to visit them all.
The Vinehopper, a hop-on and hop-off bus that covers three different routes around Stellenbosch, makes deciding a little bit easier. It also means that nobody has to drive. Wine tastings are affordable, costing between R15-R45 ($1.30-$3.85) per farm. Tastings usually include six different wines.
James recommends two wineries in particular: Simonsig and Delheim. Simonsig is a well-known producer of Cap Classique, South Africa’s version of champagne. It was great to learn about what went into producing a sparkling wine. Delheim’s wines were also great, but it was their onsite restaurant that really stood out – definitely one of the best meals that in South Africa.
Indian Wine Tasting – Yes India!
When we traveled in India, we were surprised to do a little Indian wine tasting when in New Delhi. We were even more surprised that the Indian wines were pretty decent. So, when Sarah from ASocialNomad wanted to add her recommendation for India as a wine tourism destination, I was thrilled to include it!
Wine tasting in India is so special because it’s unusual. Most people don’t even know that India has a wine industry. There are only 8 wine areas in this vast country. Goa is one of those areas, but it is Nashik, however, east of Mumbai, that is known as the wine capital of India. This is the area known as the Deccan Plateau.
There are seven wineries in the area of Nashik where it is possible to taste wine. There are 2 that Sarah recommends visiting. Sula Vineyards is the biggest. It has 70% of the Indian market and it caters mainly to the Indian palate. Wines are sweeter than most European or New World wine drinkers would like. Here you can take a short tour and a guided tasting of the wines on offer.
Sarah’s favorite, though, is York Winery. The wines are much more suited to her palate, which generally prefers Australian wine, like Shiraz, and Californian Pinot Noir.
Indian wine tasting can be a revelation. When you know so little about a wine region and the local wineries, often expectations are a little low. But, that means that wine travelers are rewarded with a unique wine experience! And, if you keep good wine tasting notes, including some Indian wines makes your wine education that much more interesting.
Yes, it’s possible to book a wine tour in India! The Nashik Wine Tour starts at $140 and is pretty one of a kind.
A Round-Up Of Our Top Wine Tasting Tours
To help inspire your next wine tasting experience, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite wine tours in each of our expert recommended wine regions. These are our recommendations for the best wine tours around the world. Each of these tours can also teach all sorts of wine tasting tips if you are new to the process.
So, which is the best wine country to visit? It all depends on you, where you like to travel, and what kind of vineyard wine tasting you like to do. Here are some examples of great wine tasting tours.
|Tour||Wine Region||Duration||Price |
|Be a Wine Maker For a Day in Mendoza||Mendoza, Argentina||5 Hours||$270|
|Bike Tours Through Mendoza Wine Country||Mendoza, Argentina||6 Hours||$150|
|Private Virginia Wine Tour & Tasting||Virginia, United States (From Charlottesville)||5 Hours||$195|
|Bohemian Wine Tasting 4x4 Day Trip||Prague, Czech Republic||7 Hours||$211|
|South Moravia Wine Trip From Brno||Brno, Czech Republic||Flexible||$148|
|Full Day Saint-Emilion Wine Tour||Bordeaux, France||8 Hours||$163|
|Champagne Region Small Group Day Tour From Paris||Champagne, France (From Paris)||10.5 Hours||$313|
|Valencia Wine Tours & Tasting With Lunch||Valencia, Spain (Catalonia)||8 Hours||$147|
|Half Day Catalan Wine Tour and Brunch||Emporda, Spain (Catalonia, From Girona)||5 Hours||$149|
|Alentejo Food & Wine Tour||Alentejo, Portugal (From Lisbon)||8 Hours||$188|
|Private Tour of Douro Wineries and Vineyards||Douro Valley, Portugal (From Porto)||10 Hours||$500|
|Rhine Valley Tour||Rhine Valley, Germany (From Frankfurt)||11 Hours||$198|
|Sussex Wine Tour From London||The South Downd, Sussex, England (From London)||8 Hours||$142|
|Waiheke Wine Tour, Tasting Lunch, and Ziplline||Waiheke, New Zealand (From Auckland)||7.5 Hours||$199|| |
|Wildlife & Safari Wine Tasting||Stellenbosch, South Africa||9 Hours||$550|
|India Wine Tour||Nashik, India||8 Hours||$140|
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