Whether it’s a glass of Merlot to pair with a hearty steak, a Pinot Grigio alongside a lightly-grilled chicken breast, or a time of celebration with a bottle of bubbly, the opportunities to have a glass (or two, or five) of wine are endless.
No matter where we find ourselves in this big, wide world of ours, and despite cultural differences, we can always bond with the locals over a drink. Some of us have an undying passion for wine, attending tastings and acquiring rare and old vintages to store in the cellar. Others might not classify themselves as connoisseurs, but they still enjoy a glass from time to time, and can certainly appreciate quality. Then there are the oddballs who choose to swim in the stuff.
Countless cities claim that they produce the world's best grapes and blends, but which ones truly rise above the crop?
10 Porto, Portugal
If the city's name matches a rather popular dessert wine, you know you’ve made the right choice. Produced throughout the northern regions of Portugal in the Douro Valley, Port is known widely across the globe as a sweet, fortified, red wine.
According to Winefolly, the ‘real’ Port wine can only be made in Portugal, and while there are other countries that manufacture similar blends, they’re imposters (just like ‘real’ Champagne can only be produced in France’s Champagne region). There are plenty of cellars worth visiting in the Porto area, including Caves Ferreira, which has been around for almost 300 years, and Caves Cálem. A food and wine tour of the region comes highly recommended!
9 Melbourne, Australia
Situated in the southeastern corner of Australia, Melbourne is a city renowned for its food, coffee, art, and culture. On the outskirts of the city, however, lies one of the country’s most beautiful and flourishing wine regions - the Yarra Valley. There are plenty of options for touring the area, be it by shuttle, bike, or renting a car (with a designated driver if you’re tasting, of course) and hopping between vineyards as you please.
The region is also home to a handful of breweries, dairy farms, apple orchards, and cute towns where it feels like you’ve traveled back in time.
8 San Francisco, California (Napa Valley)
By car, the journey to the heart of Napa Valley takes about an hour from San Francisco. Trust us, it’s worth it for the exotic, sprawling hills, beaming sunshine and a vast selection of delicious wines.
If you’re not in the mood for driving and prefer to allow everyone to taste rather than relying on a designated driver, the area is also accessible via ferry from the San Francisco Bay. For a stunning 36-mile discovery, you can hop on the Wine Train when you’ve reached the valley. For any wine-lovers heading to America’s West Coast, Napa simply can’t be missed,
7 Champagne, France
Synonymous with the Champagne brand is style, class, sophistication, and elegance. While there are hundreds of fantastic Champagne knock-offs, so to speak, to actually fall under the Champagne category, the sparkling white wine needs to have been produced in France’s historical northeast province. Keen visitors often use the cities of Reims and Epernay as a base to explore the region, but it remains easily accessible from Paris by a 1-2 hour train ride as well.
Unlike many wineries around the globe, visitors can’t usually walk in for a tasting, and instead require a pre-booked appointing for some of the bigger Champagne wineries (according to CNtraveler).
6 Vancouver, Canada
As if Vancouver didn’t already have enough to brag about with its world-renowned ski hills, bustling film scene, and impressive restaurant culture; they went and become one of the world’s most impressive wine hubs too.
Over the last 30 years, this Western Canadian city has grown exponentially in the wine business, rocketing from 17 wineries to almost 200, justifiably earning the title as one of the Travel Channel’s New Top 10 Wine Cities. Visitors can check out the Okanagan Valley, or choose to venture to Vancouver Island or Fraser Valley to diversify the palette’s experience.
5 Bordeaux, France
Nestled in the southwest of France, Bordeaux is the capital city of the similarly-named wider region. If something’s good, don’t fix it, right? This area has been experts in red wine for decades, maintaining a clear focus on Merlots and Cabernets. According to WineFolly, those two blends make up an impressive 90% of all wine produced in the region.
The best part about a wine-inspired visit to Bordeaux is that there are plenty of other fascinating activities to do aside from walking through the vineyard. La Cité du Vin is a wine-themed museum that holds ten hours worth of audiovisual material, just as an example.
4 Adelaide, Australia
It may cost an arm and a leg to fly Down Under to the vast yet beautiful land of Australia, but for any wine connoisseur, the South Australian capital city of Adelaide should sit atop of any must-see list. Just northeast of the city lies the world-renowned Barossa Valley, which features plenty of high-profile wineries eager to offer visitors a tour and a tasting. To emphasize the status and allure of the Barossa Valley, it was even given the prime position on the Australian version of Monopoly
If that isn’t reason enough, there’s the small yet stunning McLaren Vale wine region on the city’s outskirts as well.
3 Verona, Italy
Now, if we created a wine lover's bucket list without a stop in Italy, that would be the definition of blasphemous. While Verona’s main claim to fame is its culture and history surrounding the ill-fated lovers, Romeo and Juliet, it also sits in the middle of a phenomenal wine-producing area.
This area, known as the Veneto province, is the largest exporter of wine in the country, sitting at 12% (as told by GreatWineCapitals). The majority of the vineyards sit between Lake Garda and the Lessini Mountains, and there are plenty of tour options that will take you there.
2 Mendoza, Argentina
As the only South American city to make it onto our list, the western central Argentine city of Mendoza has serious claims to fame in the world of wine. Situated in the heart of the Andes mountain range, Mendoza boasts over 150,000 hectares of vineyard and makes over 70% of all the country wine (according to GreatWineCapitals).
In addition to the vast selection of wineries and cellar-door tastings, the region is also known for its adventure tourism, including activities such as mountain biking, kayaking, and zip-lining. It’s probably best to avoid the wine beforehand, though.
1 Fredericksburg, Texas
As the somewhat obnoxious yet somewhat accurate saying goes, everything is bigger in Texas. Of course, that includes the wineries. Sitting to the west of Austin and the north of San Antonio, the small town of Fredericksburg, which acts as a home base for the region’s wineries, can (and should!) easily be worked into a Texas road-trip itinerary.
Tours such as the Texas Hill Wine Trail allow us to forget about the planning and focus on enjoying the 50+ wineries in the area (and the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which the region is most known for.) Pedernales Cellars and Hye Meadow Winery shouldn’t be missed!