Europe is home to some of the most famous wine regions and wine brands on the planet, so it makes sense that the continent is a great place for the wine traveller to explore. Sometimes it can be easy to plump for the most well-known regions, or it can be daunting choosing which ones to visit.
We've asked our friends at the Winerist to recommend their top 5 wine regions in Europe. These wine regions give a mix of the well-known and the up-and-coming to help you plan your travel for 2015. Whether you’re a wine buff, wine beginner or avid traveller, they have something special for anyone who wants to avoid the tourist traps and go off the beaten path! So here we go:
Moldova – fit for royalty
Moldova is quickly becoming recognised as one of the most authentic destinations in Europe, and was voted as 2014’s No. 1 destination for off-the-beaten-path travel. It may be a small country, but it more than makes up for it with its abundance of internationally-recognised, award-winning wineries. The Purcari Estate has even made wines that have been enjoyed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II! We recommend at least 3 days in Moldova with the best times to visit being May - June and September - October.
All eyes on the Douro Valley
Douro is a Port lover’s paradise, but the adventure doesn’t stop there. Wines in the Douro combine terroir, aromatic layers of red and dark fruit flavours with a firm but non-invasive tannic structure. This is a region which never fails to amaze. Relaxing stays are available at Quinta da Veiga and a great way to enjoy the journey is on our Mateus Wine Tour. If you are fortunate enough to visit during harvest, try our Douro Harvest Tour for guaranteed fun.
Tuscany like never before
If you’ve never been to Tuscany, what have you been waiting for? This beautiful region is dynamic, innovative and full of hidden gems. Isole e Olena, Querciabella and Fontodi show a different side to Chianti and Conti di San Bonifacio remains one of our favourite homes away from home. Tuscany is the perfect destination in the autumn and around truffle hunting season so you can enjoy truffle-infused dinners and rich, mesmerising wines.
Back to Bordeaux...
Bordeaux is a stellar wine region known throughout the world. Over the years many wine tourists have gravitated towards Bordeaux and it’s easy to see why. The countryside is dotted with impressive chateaux – the perfect places for wine tastings and a vineyard lunches. You can bike through the village of St. Emilion or try a self-drive tour to leisurely enjoy the region. Whatever you do, be sure to visit the Dune du Pyla - the tallest dune in Europe for some wine, a swim and for oysters!
Santorini – home to Greece’s best wine?
Picture this: a glass of wine in your hand as you admire the views of the volcano at sunset… it’s no wonder that Santorini has become Greece’s little gem. It’s often argued that Santorini is home to Greece’s best wines. We think it’s your duty as a wine traveller to head straight there and settle this debate.
When looking for hotel to stay, there’s no shortage of beautiful accommodation with spectacular views. The Mill Houses have a passion for wine and you will be taken care of so well! Mystique was repeatedly voted the best hotel in Greece and it offers privacy, luxury and great dining. On hot summer days when you want to escape the heat, you can enjoy a superb cooking class with the locals.
Rioja is for wine lovers
Rioja is a timeless favourite thanks to its rich culture, delicious wine and fantastic winemakers. If you are a real Rioja fan, our bespoke tour is perfect for you. If you would like to be looked after, then our 3-Day Rioja Adventure is the way to be wined and dined. Great night stays are available at Hotel Viura - the bedrooms, the views, the wine bar offer the perfect setting for a wine holiday.
At Winerist we think the best way to discover a place is to meet the locals who create the culture, and who know the traditions and the secrets of their hometown. From learning to cook traditional dishes with local people to staying in authentic, boutique hotels, we have experiences to turn a trip into something unforgettable.
Diana Isac is the CEO of Winerist, the online marketplace for wine and food travel experiences around the globe.