World’s Best Wine Road Trips
Vintners have long realized that by blending different grapes one can create a deliciously complex experience. So perhaps it’s only natural that combining the 2 best movements in tourism – road trips and wine tours – produces amazing outcomes. While the list of wine regions may seem ever-growing, only a special few are worthy of a great road trip.
So pack a cork screw, some govino glasses, and dust off your grandfather’s driving gloves. We’re going on a grand tour of the world’s best wine road trips.
The Alsace Wine Route
FranceLa Route des Vins d'Alsace turns 60 this year. Bordering the Rhine River to the east and the Vosges Mountains to the west, this 105-mile-long route is home to more than 70 wine villages. Add to that its 27 Michelin-starred restaurants and hamlets that resemble gingerbread villages covered in pastel icing, and its appeal is undeniable.
Begin your love affair in Colmar, a stunning 15th-century medieval town that was mostly spared from destruction during WWII. Sleep at the central and charming La Maison des Tetes, built in 1609, and stock up on Gewürztraminer at the Cave Vinicole de Turckheim.
In the quaint town of Kayserberg, make an appointment for a tasting at Domain Weinbach. Situated on the Clos des Capucins, the estate was established in 1612 by Capucin monks. Later, head to Riquewihr and stop at Hugel & Fils for a tour of their expansive wine cellar. To taste the most popular wines in Alsace, visit the Trimbach Estate in Ribeauvillé. End your journey at the 3-star Michelin restaurant L'Auberge de l'Ill in Illhaeusern. Having maintained their 3-star status since 1967, a meal here might just be the best you’ve ever had.
Oregon to Walla Walla, Washington StateIn 1979 celebrated French wine and food magazine, GaultMillau, organized a wine Olympics bringing together a total of 330 wines from 33 countries. When a Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley placed in the top 10 of their category, the region was catapulted to international fame. Beginning 100 miles southwest of Portland, the Willamette Valley boasts more than 250 wineries. It also plays host to the celebrated International Pinot Noir Celebration every July. A journey here is not complete without a stop in Portland, a city whose wine is perhaps only bested by its limitless dining options. Also not to miss is Domain Serene in rural Dayton, OR, where you can ponder which is more fantastic, their Pinot Noir or their picturesque views.
Next, journey east to Walla Walla, WA. Heralded as the “next Napa Valley,” this unspoiled landscape is home to over 100 wineries and 1,800 acres of grapes. Stay in splendor at the elegant Stone Creek Manor, built in 1926, before awakening your senses at K Vintners whose Downtown Walla Walla tasting room is located in a converted old auto-repair warehouse. To truly get the most out of your road trip, plan way ahead and get on the mailing list for vineyards like Leonetti, Abeja and Cayuse to hear about their limited-release private tastings.
South Africa"What are men compared to rocks and mountains?" Elizabeth Bennet pondered in Pride and Prejudice. Unfortunately for her, she wasn’t contemplating this dilemma in the Western Cape, over some fabulous wine.
Home to the country’s most famous wine regions, Stellenbosch, Constantia and Paarl, the area is also celebrated for some of the most scenic drives in the world. After a stay in bustling Cape Town, retreat to a tranquil bed and breakfast housed on an estate established in 1698 – the De Leeuwenhof Estate in Paarl. For a lighthearted take on serious wine and food pairings, stop at Nederburg Wines where whimsical tastings, such as mini-burgers with red wine, are often on the menu. Not to miss is a tongue-twisting visit to Boekenhoutskloof Winery, in Franschhoek, for a taste of their celebrated The Chocolate Block wine. End your tour at the apropos Bread & Wine restaurant, a place that might very well encapsulate everything you’ve come to love about this region.
South AustraliaA region’s terroir, from the French word for “land,” is often credited with bestowing wine its individual characteristics. So for truly otherworldly wines, it seems only natural that one must travel to other end of the earth: the land of Barossa Valley in South Australia.
An hour’s drive north of the state capital, Adelaide, Barossa Valley is home to some 100 wineries, 70 of which are open to the public. Enjoy spring in September and check out the seemingly endless markets, the best of which is the Barossa Farmers Market, held every Saturday near Angaston. Sleep at the Blickinstal Barossa Valley Retreat in Tanunda. Taste rare fortified wine at Seppeltsfield Winery and even make your own blend on a tour of Penfolds Magill Estate. Of course, no road trip is complete without a culinary tour, so be sure to see how many stops you can cross off the highly recommended The Butcher, Baker, & the Winemaker Trail.
Rioja to Ribera Del Duero
SpainSpaniards have a saying “tasting the wine is like talking with God.” Begin your otherworldly dialogue in a land heralded as an oenophile’s dream come true: the region of Rioja. Situated along the Ebro River, Rioja was the first Spanish wine region to receive Designation of Origin status. For luxe accommodation, stay in the capitol of Logroño, but for boutique touches, seek out the smaller towns of Elciego and Villabuena de Álava. For a moment of absolute inspiration, pay a visit to the Frank Gehry-designed Bodegas Ysios, which imitates the Sierra de Cantabria skyline beyond it. While tastings may be your primary objective, a stop at the Museo del Vino Dinastia Vivanco in Briones would interest even the most devout of teetotalers.
Next up, head to the desperately beautiful Ribera Del Duero. Situated in the midst of the Castilian heartland, this area is known for its intense seasons and resplendent reds. Plan ahead and become a “friend” of the Alonso del Yerro winery for an invitation to one of their private tastings or dinner. Save room for the regional specialty of Tempranillo wine paired with Lechazo Asado (roast suckling lamb). Sleep off your culinary escapades in a 12th-century abbey at Abadía Retuerta LeDomaine Estate and don’t be surprised if, by the end of it all, you really do feel like you’ve had spiritual experience.
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