When Jesus turned water into wine, he was really onto something. If the Nobel Prize was around back then, he would have won for chemistry, economics, peace, and medicine. Since Jesus’ time, a few others have turned water into wine (with the helpful addition of a few other ingredients), and all over the world, people celebrate this invention. So, tell your boss you’ll be back in a few months (maybe), print out this list of the 21 best wineries, and set off. It’s called self care. Bon voyage and prost!
Franschhoek, South Africa
A one-hour drive from Cape Town will take you right into South Africa’s wine country, a place so excited about wine that they have their very own hop-on, hop-off Wine Tram that carts visitors to the best wineries in Franschhoek Valley. Nature lovers, stop by Haute Cabrière, a farm that dates back to 1695 and offers unreal views of the Franschhoek Valley. While the sights are unbeatable in the summer, our favorite time to visit is in winter when you can cozy up and enjoy tastings next to a roaring stone fire. Wine tastings are available the entire week, but make sure to plan your visit around the once-daily cellar and heritage tours where you’ll get an inside look of the underground cellar, winemaking process, and philosophy behind this one-of-a-kind winery. Tastings and tours are available by reservation only.
Calistoga, Napa Valley, California, USA
Napa Valley is synonymous with wine in the US, and one of its best kept secrets is the town of Calistoga, famous for natural hot springs, spas featuring mud baths, and an actual American castle.
Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga is about as authentic as they come. Construction on this winery’s impressive (and massive!) main structure–a 121,000 square foot, 107-room castle—was completed in 2007, but all materials and techniques used date back almost 800 years. Castello di Amorosa offers a self-guided tour that’s perfect for the low-key and budget-friendly traveler. After indulging in one of their five premium tastings, set aside a good amount of time to freely roam the castle and its adjacent sprawling grounds. And if you’re looking to get your snack on, don’t worry, Castello has you covered. This winery also offers excellent pairing tours that start with a guided tour of the castle and end with an intimate cheese, antipasti, and wine tasting.
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
With over 100 nationalities in a population of just 65,000 people, Grand Cayman is one of the most international countries in the world. Although not known for locally-grown wine, your choices of imported wines are fruitful and extensive thanks to the melting pot that is the Cayman Islands.
Sample vino from around the world in the Grand Ole House, a spot that offers a selection of over 2,100 wines at their waterfront restaurant and bar. Head here if you’re looking for rare vintages, tasting events, and expert staff who are trained to assist with pairings. The property itself boasts a panoramic waterfront terrace, outdoor seating, and live music to set the mood. And for a truly intimate experience, book the Grand Cabana: an exclusive setup that includes rose petals, fairy lights, candles, and an exceptional private tasting, pairing, and dinner service.
Walla Walla, Washington, USA
Tucked into the southeast corner of Washington state lies a small town with big appeal, that is, if you love wine. The whole town of Walla Walla revolves around it. Walla Walla Vintners is all the best wine, but none of the stuffy pretense that sometimes goes along with wine tasting. Nestled in the hills north of downtown Walla Walla, the Vintners location is stunning with mountain peaks in one direction and endless vineyards in the other. The vineyard dog will be sure to stop by for a quick pet. During your free tasting, ask for a tour of the barrel storage room and wine library where they keep a limited stock of seriously old wines and occasionally put them up for sale. Get ready to have a tough time deciding how many bottles can safely fit into your suitcase.
Vienna holds the crown of being the only world capital with a notable amount of wine production within its city limits. Wieningeram Nussberg offers sweeping views of all of Vienna and the Danube River in a true Austrian experience. Picnic tables lined up on mostly-even terrain is where you’ll enjoy the wine and food. Be sure to try Austria’s famous red wine, zweigelt. Of course, you can never go wrong with sharing a bottle of rosé sekt (rose champagne) on a sunny afternoon. As if all of the wine and food wasn’t fantastic enough, the views and atmosphere here will have you looking into taking a later flight home. Check the winery’s Facebook page for opening hours and updates before you head out. The vineyard is only open to the public in “good weather.”
Greve, Chianti, Italy
One of the most picturesque regions of Tuscany, Italy, is Chianti. All over the area you’ll find quaint, medieval towns featuring authentic Tuscan cuisine and an endless supply of decadent wines. Chianti is one of the few places in the world that perfectly marries sightseeing and history with epic relaxation and luxury. Castello di Verrazzano in Greve is a well-preserved medieval castle that offers tours coupled with three course meals and locally produced wine pairings enjoyed in a unique setting. Food is served at large banquet tables and is shared amongst new friends in a beautifully preserved medieval dining room overlooking the sunset.
Negev Desert, Israel
Carmey Avdat Farm in the Israeli desert is exactly where you need to be, come sunset. Visit this family-run winery and pick your favorite bottle. They’ll happily arrange a bottle for you and lend you some wine glasses then send you off to the lookout point above the vineyards. On a clear evening you’ll be able to see the Mountains of Edom in Jordan. After the sun has said goodnight, retire to your cabin, the beit kerem located on the property. Your stay will come with a free wine tasting and breakfast. The cabin has its own pool made of natural rock formations. The farm trails on the property will keep you busy during non wine tasting hours.
On the Buda side of Budapest, south of the Buda Castle, head to the vinarium of Garamvari Vineyards. But this isn’t where they grow the grapes. This is where they store it in the cellar underground until it’s ready for you to enjoy. This area on the outskirts of Budapest has over 50 kilometers of underground cellars and labyrinths, which coincidentally is perfect for storing and ageing sparkling wines. On your visit here, you may sample all of the wines above ground, but the real magic is in the cellar. Call ahead and arrange a tour and dinner to sample the famous sparkling wines. You’ll wander the underground labyrinth stacked with thousands of bottles of bubbly and dine by candlelight while the experts give you some insight into how and why this winery has chosen this historic area to store their goods.
If an eco resort in a vineyard in the stunning mountains of Montenegro complete with a gorgeous pool doesn’t sound like the perfect adventure, we can’t be friends. This is actually kind of cheating because all you need to do is book the three or five-day stay at Cermenzia Winery and sit back and do whatever they have planned, drink their wine, and eat their meals. Heck, they’ll even go get you from the airport when you arrive in Podgorica.
Of course, you’ll be wandering around the vineyard, exploring the wine cellar and enjoying the fruits of this labor: the delicious wine. But you should also play bocce ball, take the bicycles for a leisurely tour of the area, and enjoy Skadar Lake, which is about a mile away from the property. In addition to the wine, be sure to try to local distilled liquor, rakija, also produced at Cermenzia. At the end of your stay, maybe forget to check out, miss your flight, and become a winemaker. Worse things have happened.
The Palvinci Winery is a Belgrade gem. The grapes are grown on the hills overlooking the Danube River, exactly where grapes for wine were grown long, long ago, until wine went out of fashion, which doesn’t make any sense, but history books confirm this catastrophe. The fields that used to grow the grapes became farming land and the site of weekend homes for the wealthy because of the gorgeous scenery. In 2011, a plot of land here was brought back to its origin and began producing wine in 2014.
This winery is tiny and you’ll have to make an appointment to go visit. It’s a humble operation but the product is absolutely worth seeking out. As are the wonderful views and hospitality that will meet you for your wine tasting. Pick a sunny day, go learn all about certified organic wine, and sit in a comfy chair on the patio to sip some wine and admire the Danube floating by.
Inniskillin on the banks of the Niagara River in Canada has found a way to use its relatively unique location as an advantage to their winemaking. Canadian winters are freezing cold. If grapes are left on the vine to age and freeze, then picked and processed while frozen you get ice wine. Ice wine is far sweeter than a standard wine of the same variety, and more of a dessert wine. Inniskillin’s sparkling ice wine is a personal favorite and highly recommended.
If you’re looking to propose to your special someone, this winery offers a package to accommodate that. It comes complete with a private tour of the facilities and a tasting to assist you in getting your courage up. Then, after you have successfully popped the question, you both receive a glass of our favorite sparkling icewine to celebrate. I imagine they would still give you one if it didn’t work out, although this is not expressly stated. Maybe they’ll give the whole bottle instead of just a glass if the answer is “no.”
We’ve all drank wine before and probably toured a vineyard and witnessed what wine barrels look like and learned how they’re made. However, you’ve probably never slept in a wine barrel, right? And can you really be called a wine aficionado if you’ve never drank some wine and then slept in the barrel? Obviously, no. Hold your tears and just head to the world’s northernmost vineyard in Telemark, Norway: Lerkekasa. Your stay in the oversized wine barrel comes with wine tasting and meals. The oak used to make this oversized barrel really did used to hold wine and it still sweetly has a hint of that smell left. Overlooking the vineyard, you can relax on your barrel patio savoring the wine produced there, made on such a small scale that it isn’t available anywhere else in the world.
Lerkekasa makes wine from grapes, berries, and fruit that are all grown on the property. Visiting here in the spring when the trees and vines are in bloom is especially spectacular.
When tired of spending your days at the beach in Hawaii, head up the Volcano Winery. In 1986 someone decided to see if grapes could grow at 4000 feet above sea level in volcanic rock. Thankfully for us, the answer is yes. The pinot noir grape is especially fond of volcanoes. Being in the tropical land of aloha, the wine masters here decided to blend the grapes with the local fruits like guava, starfruit, passion fruit, and papaya.
The winery sits just outside of Volcanoes National Park, so pack a poke picnic and head up for some unique wine tasting. Tour the vineyards with the warm Hawaiian breeze, try to find the winery cat, and check out the hole leading to a lava tube on the property. At some point, the winery is hoping to store barrels for aging in this lava tube. Please don’t drink so much wine that you fall in.
Hacienda Zorita in Salamanca, Spain is a 14th century Dominican Estate with plenty of history and offerings to keep you satisfied for your trip. Salamanca itself is a UNESCO World Heritage site, meaning the city is an international treasure. Also, apparently Christopher Columbus stayed at Hacienda Zorita for a time, and he is known for finding some pretty nice spots.
Hacienda Zorita is home to a sublime hotel created out of former monastery cells, villas, and suites on the main property. Or our favorites, the former winemaker’s house and hunting lodge, which both sit inside the Arribes del Duero Natural Park making for a beautifully peaceful stay in natural isolation. There is also a fully functioning organic farm that supplies a farm-to-table experience for the food in the hotel, restaurant, and wine bar. There is also a full spa in case the setting and wine are not enough to relax you. Pretty much a dream location.
Bouzy – Champagne, France
Any list of wine destinations would be incomplete without at least one winery from Champagne, France. Of course, this is the only region actually able to call their sparkling wines champagnes. Our pick is specifically boozy. Sorry, our pick is specifically from Bouzy. Bouzy is one of 17 of the 320 villages in the Champagne region to be distinguished as a “Grand Cru,” meaning it’s a top-quality region for production. If you’re going to drink bubbles, they might as well be top quality and in a place called Bouzy.
Champagne Delavenne Père & Fils offers visits to the family estate for viewing, tasting, and buying the wines they offer. While they do not offer much in the way of amenities, such as restaurants or hotels on their grounds, they more than make up for it with the amazing quality champagnes they produce. And aren’t bubbles alone worth traveling for?
The island of Cyprus might not register as the first place you think of when looking for wine destinations, but maybe it should. It is right next to Italy, afterall. We found Domaine Hadijiantonas, a small but beautiful winery, to be charming in ways larger wineries cannot offer. Take a private tour and tasting here and experience the charm and personality.
Xinisteri is an indigenous white grape of Cyprus and used to make a unique, sweet white wine by the same name that is unique to only Cyprus. The owner of the vineyard is a pilot, so the wines here are offered in aviation sized bottles for you to taste on the flight home! Most airlines frown upon drinking your own booze on flights, but we have water bottles to thank for getting around this issue.
Just outside Adelaide, Australia, is d’Arenberg, a vineyard with options for experiences unlike anything we have seen elsewhere. Would you perhaps like to visit a Salvador Dali exhibit on your way into the tasting room? Or maybe you prefer a contemporary art museum? d’Arenberg has that too. Maybe you were thinking something a bit bigger? Like taking to the skies to see the entire vineyard?
For the ultimate vineyard experience, you can fly above the vineyard in either a 1930’s biplane, or a helicopter, your choice. Then blend and bottle your own signature wine to take home, and finish off the day with an eight-course food and wine experience. Not a bad way to spend a day.
Eltville am Rhein, Germany
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to tour the wine cellar of a 900-year-old monastery? Of course you have, and Kloster Eberbach in Germany’s famous Rheingau region is your opportunity to do just that. An active monastery from 1136 until 1803, and an active vineyard the entire time, Kloster Eberbach is not an average vineyard. While here, the Eberbach rieslings are a must try.
Stay on the former monastery grounds in the 16th century mill and barn that have been humbly converted into a simple, yet warm guesthouse for visitors. Don’t worry, the monastic origin doesn’t mean your room won’t have a TV or WiFi. Make sure you hit the sauna while you are here for a bit of extra relaxation. And then maybe drink some water because wine and a sauna is the perfect mixture for feeling not so great tomorrow.
Rosario Valley, Chile
Matetic Vineyards in the El Rosario valley of Chilean wine country has a vast area for their four separate vineyards. What’s your favorite way to tour a vineyard? Here you can choose between tours of the lands by horseback, bicycle, or on foot. Who wouldn’t want to ride a horse through a picturesque Chilean valley before stopping to taste the wines?
As if you weren’t already sold on Matetic Vineyards, try the chocolate pairings with the wines in the tasting room. The Syrah here is special: produced in a very short run on one particular hillside, which is saying a lot since their four vineyards cover almost 400 acres. Once finished at the tasting and restaurant, return to your 10-room hotel to have an evening stroll through the hotel’s park before bed, or take a dip in the pool while surrounded by vineyards.
Ensenada, Mexico, Baja California
In Ensenada, in the northwest Mexican state of Baja California, lies a gem of a winery designed to blend with its natural surroundings. The Bruma Valle de Guadalupe complex is built out of reclaimed elements and designed around a courtyard with a 300-year-old oak tree as the focal point, paying homage to the tree that brings so much to the art of winemaking.
When you attend the Bruma winery, you stay in one of 8 stark and minimalist suites that act as a bed and breakfast on the gorgeous desert landscape. Everything is connected together to a main house with all the amenities for relaxing by the pool or making new friends. If you are looking for a weekend retreat from the United States, this is the winery to choose. Easy to get to and absolutely stunning.
Caldari di Ortona, Italy
We all owe the Dora Sarchese vineyard a lifetime of thanks because they’ve installed a wine fountain in Abruzzo, Italy. And it’s free. This is not a drill. This is actually a free-flowing wine fountain in Italy and it costs zero euros to enjoy a glass from the fountain. This man-made miracle is strategically located along the famous pilgrimage route of Cammino di San Tommaso, a 140-mile trek from Rome to Ortona. The idea behind the fountain is to be a congregation spot for travelers on the pilgrimage to stop and enjoy each other’s company. The vineyard also welcomes wine lovers (that’s us) to come enjoy the fountain and meet some new friends.