By LL Editorial Staff
California has many wine growing regions, but the most well known are the neighboring and fertile valleys of Napa and Sonoma. Visitors to this bucolic region can sip and sup their way through many well known wineries or opt to sample a fleet of some 200 small, family-owned vineyards. The mild climate lends itself well to the grape growing process where a variety of varietals thrive from Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc to Cabernet Sauvignon and pinot noir. Along the wine trail there are several places to stay, including the lovely Sonoma Coast Villa & Spa located near downtown Napa. The Zen-inspired Gaige House in the Sonoma Valley is another idyllic place to slumber.
If you’ve perused the aisles of your local wine store lately you have undoubtly noticed an abundance of vintages produced down under. Dessert wines are widely produced in Australia, but so are Shiraz and chardonnay. Hunter Valley near Sydney has all the right conditions for producing pinot noir and is one of Australia’s oldest wine regions. With approximately 80 wineries, you can visit many famous labels as well as very small boutique winemakers. In addition to pinot noir, Hunter Valley is known for full-bodied white wines, too.
A visit to South Africa combines the romance of wine with the adrenaline rush of a safari. Recognized as one of the top 10 wine-producing regions in the world, vintners work primarily with white grapes in a region just northeast of Cape Town. Noted for its Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc, the region also produces some hybrid wines such as Pinotage, created from pinot noir and cinsuat grapes. Do a little sampling of your own at Steenberg Hotel, a historic wine farm set in the foothills of the Constantia Valley and surrounded by vineyards and tasting rooms. The accommodations at this 17th century estate are filled with antiques and there is a spa and restaurant on the premises as well. A day trip to South Africa’s coast is easily within reach and some of the country’s most sought-after wines are produced in this region where the climate is much milder.
Having once been considered second-rate, Chilean wines have certainly come into their own. These days this narrow coastal country produces excellent vintages in Chile’s Maipo Valley, where superlative reds yield fruity and full body flavor. This relatively small region has a high concentration of vineyards with ocean breezes and high elevations providing a breeding ground for grape growing. Extend your visit to South America with a stay just across the border at the luxurious El Casco Art Hotel, an Argentinian gem on the shores of legendary shores of Lake Nahuel Huapi. Along with an extensive art collection of over 475 paintings and sculptures, this hotel boasts an incredible wine cellar to help exceed your expectations of fine dining.
If you’re a wine tasting novice or a seasoned connoisseur, a visit to any of these top wine regions will certainly arouse your senses. Not only can you sample some incredible vintages, but, depending on your destination, you might be able to participate in an annual crush or feast on wine country fare. Like the old saying goes, “Life is too short to drink bad wine” or, in this case, not taste at all.