There are many ways to develop a deeper appreciation of wine — books, classes, actually tasting it. But none compare to a trip to Wine Country. Seeing where our favorite beverage comes from and how it is made provides one of life’s great learning experiences, not to mention a feast for the senses. The old saying that “grapes like to grow in beautiful places” is unfailingly true. The food in wine regions is not only fresh and delicious, but also puts to the test another old saying, “what grows together goes together.”
Here are some tips and insights into several wine-soaked regions. For a customized itinerary for your trip to Napa, Sonoma or Oregon, check out our Travel Planner.
Argentina: Steven Walker shares the scoop on the Cafayate region, with its gorgeous scenery, good wines (beyond malbec) and a “true South American indigenous vibe.”
Burgundy: Walking through Beaune, driving through the world’s most coveted pinot noir and chardonnay vineyards and soaking in a surprising amount of history. Plus some logistics.
Loire Valley: Mindy Matthews on a mecca for those of us who love castles, goat cheese at every meal, majestic gardens, tapestries and firm, focused wines.
Napa: This popular destination can get to be too much of a good thing, but these tips on where to sleep, drive and shop for food can help immensely. And while wineries are cool (my faves here), the real revelation is the food. My favorite Napa restaurants.
New Zealand: Brian Tockman on a land of unsurpassed beauty, friendly folks, seriously fresh seafood and a swath of worthy sub-regions. Oh, and some pretty tasty juice, too.
Oregon: Here’s my account from my day job.
Paso Robles: Reid Plumbo explores one of California’s most underappreciated destinations, featuring hearty wines of all colors, down-home hospitality and tons of diversions. Plus an update from moi.
Sonoma: This is one big-ass, sprawling county, with great wineries and eateries in every nook and corner. So logistics (especially where to stay and where not to drive) are important. Of all its wondrous restaurants, these are my favorites. And it was very hard to pare my favorite 20 tasting rooms down to 20 or so.
Washington: Walla Walla winemaker Chad Johnson (Dusted Valley) shares some swell tips from his neck of the wine world.