Enchanting wine regions with stunningly beautiful vineyards, colorful landscapes, and (of course) top notch vino are the essentials of a wine vacation. Winery tours and tastings are just a start though, so we’ve put together these 5 types of wine vacations to help you plan the perfect wine-lovers retreat for your travel personality. Each promises beautiful scenery, delectable grapes, and will inspire you to explore the wonderful world of wine making.
1. The wine and food wine vacation
Where: Instantly recognizable for its steep sea cliffs with white washed buildings tumbling down the sides and the blue domes, Santorini has centuries of grape-growing history. The Greek island’s volcanic soil is an inhospitable environment for grape phylloxera, a type of parasite, that destroyed most of the grapes in Europe in the late 19th century. Santorini’s grapes went unscathed and it is one of the oldest wine growing regions of the world.
Insider Tip: Combine your passions for fine food and wine on a Santorini Wine and Food Tour. You’ll not only visit several of the island’s most renowned wineries, but will also learn how to make classic Greek dishes at a lunch time cooking class. Enjoy the fruits of your labor with more wine right on the beach.
Plan Your Trip: A trip to Santorini is best April through October, otherwise you’ll find much of the island shuttered up. Stay at the stunningly beautiful Astra Suites, where you’ll enjoy a nightly bottle of complimentary wine from a local vineyard. Be sure to take in at least one famous Santorini sunset from Santo Wines Winery with perfect views of the caldera.
2. The active wine vacation
Where: Arizona is where the great outdoors and the best of the modern wine industry converge. Arizona’s modern wine industry started with just one vineyard in 1973 and in just a few decades, has exploded to more than a dozen vineyards and 63 bonded wineries scattered across the state. The various micro-climates have produced wines that have won numerous awards, earned international acclaim, and have even been served at the White House since 1989.
Insider Tip: Make your Arizona wine vacation an active one and head to Northern Arizona where you can kayak on the Verde River to Alcantara’s terraced vineyards for wine tasting in their Tuscan-style wine estate.
Plan Your Trip: Make Phoenix your base for your Arizona wine vacation. You can head out on days trips both north to Jerome or south on the Sonoita Wine Trail to wineries like Arizona Hops and Vines or Sonoita Vineyards. If you find yourself needing a little break from wine, check out these 10 things to do in Arizona.
3. The authentic wine vacation
Where: As if the sumptuous Amarones produced in the Veneto weren’t reason enough, the area’s high concentration of agriturisimi, luxurious hotels, and quaint villages – not to mention scenic vistas with pretty hills at the base of the Alps – increasingly lure visitors out of Venice. Worthy wine-tasting stops (advance reservations are usually necessary) include Allegrini Estates, Fratelli Vogadori, and Borgo Rocca Sveva.
Plan Your Visit: Most visitors to Italy’s northern Veneto region spend their time strolling Venice’s calle, but it’s worth renting a car and checking out some of the Veneto’s small towns for an authentic Italian experience. Visit the glistening Lake Garda, stroll around the Roman ruins at the Grotto of Catullus, climb the castle cascading down the hillsides of Soave, or enjoy stunning vistas along the Strada del Prosecco.
4. The luxury wine vacation
Where: Though the principality of Monaco doesn’t produce wines itself, you will find the world’s largest hotel wine cellar is located 33 feet beneath the Hôtel de Paris and Hôtel Hermitage. The wine cellar isn’t open to the genera public, but for those that want a truly luxurious wine tasting experience, you can book a private tasting in the acclaimed cellar. If a private tasting is a little too rich for your blood, you can also order the oldest vintages featured on the wine menus at Monte-Carlo SBM restaurants like Le Grill or Le Louis XV. The most expensive bottle SBM sells to guests, a Château Petrus, has a cool price tag of €12,000.
Insider Tip: The wines served at all Monte-Carlo SBM restaurants are picked as part of the dining experience by the Wine Tasting Committee in a weekly meeting that takes place in the cellar beneath the Hôtel de Paris. Enjoy more pocketbook-friendly lunch menus with wine included at Le Grill or the Michelin-starred Elsa.
Plan Your Visit: May is the perfect time to visit and take in Monaco Grand Prix. The Hôtel de Paris is in the heart of Monte Carlo and provides guests with decadent rooms fit for a king. It’s also the only hotel right on the Monaco Grand Prix circuit where you enjoy the race while sipping on the finest champagne right from the comfort of your room.
5. The scenic wine vacation
Where: Napa Valley is just an hour’s drive from San Francisco and is the quintessential California wine country. More than 50 grape varietals grow here and there are some 400 wineries and tasting rooms to explore. The array of sensory indulgences and scenic vineyards can make you dizzy before you’ve even had your first glass of wine.
Insider Tip: Take in Napa Valley’s scenery from above with Balloons Above the Valley for a birds-eye view. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the Bay. The very early start (before the roosters even start crowing) will be well worth it and the champagne brunch after your flight gives you the perfect fuel to take on the rest of the day.
Plan Your Visit: The Napa Valley Marriott provides the perfect retreat for your Napa Valley wine vacation. It’s also the meeting point for ballooning, so you can sleep just a little longer. In the evenings, join fellow oenophiles around the fire pit while enjoying a glass of your favorite Napa Valley wine. Be sure to book a ride on the Napa Valley Wine Train for stunning scenery as you travel through the heart of Napa Valley all the way from downtown Napa to St. Helena.