There are incredible wine regions on nearly every continent around the world, making it easy for wine lovers to visit a top-tier vineyard on their next trip. Whether they’re heading to Africa, South America, Europe, North America, or Oceania, there’s a chance to taste delicious wines while overlooking the vineyards where the grapes were harvested. These are the 10 best wine regions in the world and the ideal time of year to book a tour and tasting.
10 Cape Winelands, South Africa
South Africa is well known for its wine region which is a top attraction in the country among travelers. It takes less than one hour to drive from Capetown to the town of Stellenbosch which is surrounded by vineyards. Stellenbosch boasts intricate Cape Dutch architecture and 130 wine estates to choose from for a tour or tasting.
Along with Stellenbosch, the towns of Paarl and Franschhoek make up the Cape Winelands. The best time to visit this wine region is from September to April when the weather is dry and many vintage wines are newly available.
9 Marlborough District, New Zealand
Wine lovers can’t visit New Zealand without making a stop in the Marlborough region for a wine tasting. New Zealand’s signature wine is Sauvignon Blanc so be sure to ask for a glass of this when traveling here.
The best time to visit for winery tours and tastings is between March and May. This is during New Zealand’s autumn season when the grapes are harvested.
8 Maipo Valley, Chile
Maipo Valley is Chile’s top wine region and is located south of the capital city, Santiago. Some might call it South America’s “Bordeaux”, referring to the popular wine region in France. Maipo Valley is a red-wine producing region, especially renowned for its Cabernet Sauvignon. Merlot and Syrah are also grapes commonly found in Maipo.
March and April are the best months to visit Chile for seeing the vineyards at their most beautiful during the harvest season. However, Chile’s wineries are open year-round.
7 Mendoza, Argentina
Argentina produces a variety of high-quality red wines, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah. However, the country is most famous for producing Malbecs, a dry-style red wine. Specifically, the Mendoza Malbecs are some of the best in the world.
Many wineries are harvesting the grapes and beginning production of their wines during autumn in Mendoza. This makes it the ideal time to taste the grapes and be more involved in the process during a tour.
6 Barossa Valley, Australia
Australia is a wine lovers' paradise, producing varieties of both red and white wines. High-quality bottles of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc can all be found and sampled in the land down under. The Barossa Valley in South Australia is northeast of Adelaide and specializes in Shiraz grapes.
Since Australia is in the Southern Hemisphere, the best time to visit the vineyards in Barossa Valley is during their autumn season in April and May. This means experiencing the harvest and sampling the Shiraz grapes.
5 La Rioja, Spain
La Rioja is a wine region in northern Spain that is primarily popular for its red wine. Their most prominent grape is the Tempranillo. Spanish Rioja wines are typically somewhat sweet and not super dry. They tend to have a high level of acidity.
The region has a Wine Battle at a summer festival in June and a grape harvest in September, making the summer and early fall the best times to visit.
4 Douro Valley, Portugal
The Douro Valley wine region is a gem of Portugal and is within driving distance of Porto. Douro Valley is best known for its production of port wine, the fortified wine specific to the northern region of the country.
Port wine is sweet and is often served as a dessert wine to finish a meal. The best time to visit Porto and take a day trip to Douro Valley for a taste of this delicious drink is in April and May. This is a pleasant time to explore the area without intense summer heat or dense crowds of tourists.
3 Napa Valley, CA, United States
Napa Valley is located north of San Francisco, California on the west coast of the United States. The district is famous for the hundreds of vineyards and Michelin star restaurants. Napa Valley is most well known for its Cabernet Sauvignon wines, which account for 40% of the region’s wine production.
The height of the tourist season in Napa Valley aligns with the harvest season, which runs from August to October. For those who want a prime wine tasting experience, these are the months to visit. However, travelers who are hoping to escape the crowds should visit in spring, from March to May.
2 Bordeaux, France
Many travelers head to France to see Paris, but wine lovers know Bordeaux is the place to be. Bordeaux is a port city in southwestern France that produces world-class red wines. Over 90% of the wines from this region are reds, either Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon.
Like most of Europe, the most enjoyable months to visit France are May to November. However, travelers hoping to experience the grape harvest should plan their trip for September.
1 Tuscany, Italy
Tuscany is a dream destination for travelers seeking a romantic evening, sipping wine, overlooking vineyards as the sun is setting. The region primarily grows Sangiovese red grapes which feature in most red wines from Tuscany, including Merlots and Cabernet Sauvignons. Some of the most traditional Tuscan red wines include Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Brunello di Montalcino. While less common, white wines also come out of this region, made from the Vermentino grape which is native to Tuscany.
May to October are the peak season to travel to Tuscany because of the warmer temperatures and clear skies. However, September to October means fewer crowds and a chance to experience the grape harvest.