28 May 2019
A wise man once said, ‘wine is the only artwork you can drink’ and here at Travel Counsellors, we couldn’t agree more.
Apart from being absolutely delicious, wine boasts well-founded health benefits (when consumed responsibly and in moderation), such as improving heart strength and cutting the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease and diabetes.
The 25th of May marked National Wine Day, so it would be remiss of us not to pour ourselves a glass of the good stuff and toast some of the planet’s finest wine-making regions.
A two-hour drive north out of Sydney sits Hunter Valley - Australia’s oldest wine-growing region with a rich wine heritage that stretches back some 180 years.
Roughly 150 wineries can be found dotted around Hunter Valley’s rolling green hills, but the region matches quantity and quality by bottling arguably the best Semillon in the world, as well as a penchant for white peach Chardonnay, bold Verdelho, and some of the country’s most sought-after Shiraz.
Where to stay: Shangri-La Sydney, Four Seasons Hotel Sydney, PARKROYAL Darling Harbour
Wine is a big deal in California – that’s no shocker – but what you might not know is that the Napa Valley is California’s second most-visited attraction behind Disneyland.
In Napa, almost 400 physical wineries produce more than 1,000 brands of wine, with a strength for delivering particularly fine Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Merlot.
Play winemaker for a day by blending your own Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon at Conn Creek Winery. During this eye-opening two-hour experience, you’ll taste wines from every sub-region in Napa before having the chance to mix your own blend and take home a bottle of your concoction.
Where to stay: River Terrace Inn, Archer Hotel Napa, Silverado Resort and Spa
With a reputation for the Rockies, Niagara Falls and snowy, untouched wilderness, not many people look to Canada for great wine, but they should – and that’s thanks to Okanagan in British Columbia.
In the last 20 years, Okanagan’s number of licensed wineries has exploded from 31 to 185. The Okanagan Valley boasts 84% of British Columbia’s vineyards with more than 200 to its name.
Even without the fantastic wineries, Okanagan is a rewarding visit with stunning views of thick green forests and the brilliantly blue 135km-long Okanagan Lake – home to its own Nessie-style mythical monster: the Ogopogo. The region also boasts a luxury resort owned by Swarovski that features more than three million sparkling crystals across its walls and artworks.
Where to stay: Holiday Inn Express & Suites Vernon, Four Points by Sheraton Kelowna Airport
Wine is produced all over Portugal and one of the largest and most notable Portuguese regions for wine-making is Alentejo, which is responsible for some of the country’s most famous wines such as Cortes de Cima, Herdade dos Coelheiros, Mouchão and Esporão.
Head east from Lisbon to the beautiful UNESCO-listed world heritage town of Évora for Adega da Cartuxa - a must-see with its renovated and expanded facility, wine cellar guided tour and food and wine tasting.
After dropping by other wineries like Adega Mayor and Herdade da Malhadinha Nova, consider visiting Estremoz - a captivating medieval hamlet trapped in time with a castle, where you can enjoy VIP winery visits, vineyard walks and special tastings with the winemakers and owners themselves.
Where to stay: Martinhal Cascais, Sheraton Lisboa, Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon
With multicoloured cliffs, whitewashed buildings and postcard-perfect beaches, there’s plenty of reasons to visit the volcanic island of Santorini – and especially so for lovers of wine, which has been produced on the island since ancient times with the ‘Assyrtiko’ variety of Santorini being famous all over the world.
Contributing to Santorini’s supreme vineyards are the fantastic indigenous varieties, the island’s unique ecosystem, its volcanic soil, strong winds, rare rainfalls and the hot, dry summers. All of this adds up to a uniquely intense and complex character with high gastronomic value.
Those pressed for time should prioritise SantoWines. As the island’s largest winery, it has an amazing location, wide selection of wines, gorgeous Greek meze, great service and a gift shop where you can buy local products as well as all the wines you just tasted.
Other wineries worth checking out include the recently renovated Venetsanos and the minimalist Estate Argyros Winery.
Where to stay: Mystique - a Luxury Collection Hotel, Vedema – a Luxury Collection Resort
“I got married nine years ago in Santorini at the Santo winery and it was great to go back to our wedding venue to sample the amazing wine on offer. A visit to the Santo Winery is a must! You will fall in love with Santorini, so put it on your must-visit list!”
Trudie, Travel Counsellor
Uncork the wine-tasting trip of your dreams by contacting your local Travel Counsellor to visit one – or all – of these amazing wine destinations. You’ll enjoy exclusive benefits including full financial protection and a 24-hour duty office ready to assist you before, during and after your trip.