Wine enthusiasts understand the intricacies that go into the winemaking process and winemakers know that every tiny detail affects the end product, from the selection of the fruit until the bottling of this timeless elixir.
Specific regions that traditionally make wine have distinct taste profiles based on the terroir and their vinification process. For example, even if various countries use the same type of grape in their wine, they often get very different wine results.
It’s these complexities that have contributed to the rise in popularity of wine tourism, where wine aficionados travel the world to immerse themselves in the viticulture of the various wine regions of the world. It is easy to see why embarking on a sensory journey across wine-producing countries is appealing to the wine enthusiast. Combining two passions, wine and tourism, makes for a truly memorable travel experience.
Storylines is pleased to include wine regions in our itinerary. As a residential around the world cruise liner that stays several days in ports, our owners have time for overland tours to explore the finest vineyards in the world. Here's an overview of some destinations where you can sample the best red wines, white wines, and some interesting other picks for wine lovers to enjoy.
Old World Winemakers
Throughout history, wine has been regarded as a celebratory drink. Even today, it plays a significant role in gatherings, from royal feasts to religious ceremonies, just as it did in ancient times.
Old world wines continue the long history and tradition of winemaking. These wines typically come from the original winemaking regions of Europe, the Middle East, and Northern Africa which tend to have more earth-driven flavors.
Besides boasting many UNESCO World Heritage sites, Sicily is also known for having a unique terroir perfect for making distinct wine flavors. Travel through the many appellations of this incredibly diverse region that produces distinctive Italian grapes and wines. After seeing the impressive sights of Mount Etna, take a trip to the wine region to have a taste of how the largest volcano in Europe is contributing to the vines. Eruptions over time altered the soil types, creating a richness and diversity optimal for wine production. Try out the wines made with the Nerello Mascalese, a king grape variety in Etna, which gives its wines a medium acidity, but silky tannins and balsamic suggestions. Top off your trip with a dinner and wine pairing at Ristorante La Madia, a Michelin-starred restaurant on the island. We recommend the rice arancino with mullet ragout and wild fennel, or the pizzaiola: cod with pinecone smoked… Mmm, hungry now?
When it comes to wine, you can never go wrong with France, one of the world's biggest wine producers. The Bordeaux region is well-known for its abundance in wine tourism. Travelers, wine enthusiasts, and vintners all around the world journey to Bordeaux to have a taste of the finest wines from producers that are centuries old.
Wines in Bordeaux are highly regulated and only allow six grapes into their red wine blends: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, Carmenere, and Petit Verdot. Go on a guided wine tour or have a wine tasting in one of the vineyards and cellars of Bordeaux to taste how the region's unique terroir split by the Gironde river gives its red blends the signature quality that Bordeaux wines are known for.
Combine your tour of historical travel destinations with something truly unique. We suggest treetop tasting at the Chateau de Rayne Vigneau -not for everyone as you must earn your wine tasting by climbing a 200 year old tree. But the reward is worth it: a treehouse-like tasting table and platform with a birds-eye view of the Chateau. Just make sure not to taste too much as you’ll need to climb back down!
Ribera del Duero, Spain
Head to Spain to have a taste of red wines fit for royalty. Home to one of the best and priciest Spanish wine producers, Vega Sicilia, Ribera del Duero is one of the Spanish regions known for its barrel-aged Tempranillo and Spanish red blends. One of Vega Sicilia's popular customers is Prince Charles, who is known to enjoy the red wine of this region. Compared to other wine regions in Spain, the blend in Ribera tends to have a fruity, fuller-bodied taste. Let yourself drink and be merry, as you go on a relaxing tour of the scenic vineyards in Ribera del Duero. Buy a bottle to bring home to add some luxury to your dinner table.
If you are staying in Madrid and stuck for time, we recommend a guided day tour from Madrid to Ribera del Duero. For roughly $225 USD, you will get 10 hours to discover Ribera del Duero, including:
- Pickup & drop-off
- Learning the wine making process in this region
- Three wineries
- Lunch at a winery
- Visit to the picturesque city of Segovia
New World Wineries
New World wines are produced outside of the regions where wine originated. As one of the first wine producers, the winemaking process of Old World regions has greatly influenced new wine producers. Some wine production territories considered ‘New World’ are the United States, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile, Australia and South Africa.
The main difference is, while the Old World wines follow strict winemaking traditions, New World wines are more technology-oriented and experimental, allowing for more freedom in their process. New World wines are also named after the main fruit varietal used (such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, etc.) compared to how old world wines are named after the region where they are produced. Either way, wine enthusiasts would enjoy seeing the difference in the wine production techniques among the different regions. Bring home a bottle from each destination and have a tasting panel with your family and friends to see which you like best. Whether you prefer a fruit forward taste, or those wines with a black pepper aroma, choose what you enjoy and share your find.
Oregon, United States
Over 80% of wine production in the U.S. comes from reputable local wineries in California, with Napa Valley being the most popular. If you do visit the Napa Valley we suggest stopping by Oasis by the Hoopes Family Vineyard. It includes a stylish, outdoor saloon next to the estate vineyard, beautiful gardens as well as an animal rescue sanctuary. Share a drink with resident wild donkey, Jack E. O’Asses!
Might we suggest a trip to another great wine destination that is off the beaten track but still perfect for wine enthusiasts to explore? Hit the road and explore some of the best wines America has to offer by going on a journey to Oregon's Willamette Valley, where wine season lasts all year long. Willamette Valley is home to over 500 incredible wineries and vineyards you can explore. Its geographic location makes the climate perfect for growing the grapes needed for its world-famous pinot noir and chardonnay. Traverse the trails as you hop from one tasting room to the next.
South Australia has some of Australia’s oldest continuously producing vineyards, so it's no wonder that its wine areas are among the best in the country. The region's claim to fame is its bold, extraordinarily smooth and full bodied shiraz, which may be found in the Barossa Valley. Plan a trip to Seppeltsfield, one of the Barossa's oldest wineries, which was the first winery in the world to release a 100-year-old vintage wine every year. Visit the cellar and enjoy one-of-a-kind experiences, such as tasting wine straight from the barrel made in the year you were born.
Marlborough, New Zealand
Tucked away beneath towering mountain ranges, Marlborough is probably the most well-known wine region in New Zealand. Famous for its outstanding Sauvignon Blanc, the area produces approximately 77% of all New Zealand wines. Its beautiful vineyards surrounded by scenic coasts and little islands to the north and east make the geographically diverse region a perfect spot for producing concentrated and consistent red and white wines. This allows vinters to harvest and produce world-class wines with aromatics and flavors unique to New Zealand. Take your wine palette to new heights by having a taste of the wide range of sauvignon blanc, pinot noir, and chardonnay options in the region.
A popular way to explore the region is the Marlborough Biking wine tours. Starting from only $20 per person, you can get a guided or self-guided tour for a half or full day. We recommend the Deluxe full-day guided biking wine tour, which includes:
- Winery tour
- Tastings (tasting fees included)
- Food and wine match
- Pick-up & drop-off from accommodation
Travelers are greeted with alluring mountains and valleys as they travel to Argentina’s wine regions. While Argentina is typically known for producing Malbec, the Uco Valley in Mendoza goes beyond single-origin wines and creates more complex blends. Experience a new era of wine production and put your wine palate to the test as you sample the country’s best Malbec. Challenge yourself with a new wine tasting experience by trying out the other lesser known grapes and blends that are gaining esteem in the country.
We recommend setting aside three days to properly explore the three wine regions; Lujan de Cuyo, Uco Valley, and Maipu. Hire a driver, more expensive but worth it, and enjoy your Malbec paired with Argentinian beef (considered the best in the world) with the backdrop of the Andes… life simply doesn’t get much better.
Travel to the Wine Regions of the World with Storylines
You too can join Storylines as we go on a gastronomic journey around the world - one that is perfect for epicures and oenophiles. Develop a discerning taste for worldly flavors as we sink our teeth into the best cuisines and wine pairings on the planet. We are a luxury cruise line built for residential life, meaning you can purchase your own home aboard our ship so you can live life and explore the world simultaneously. As a result, you will find many of your fellow neighbors are also keen foodies and wine connoisseurs. What’s more, we tailor many of our excursions to experience some of the finest food and wine destinations the world has to offer.
For more information, visit us here. Happy tasting!