For some, it may be hard to believe that we are more than halfway through the year 2020, while for others, it may be hard to believe that we made it out of the madness of March! 2020 has surely become the year of the virtual wine tasting as #Winetravelers everywhere learn to appreciate being at home while all travel plans to wine country near and far have been put on hold.

If you’re lucky enough to live near a wine region, you may still be able to do some tasting as the year goes on and local spots begin to open up, but for most Winetravelers, it will be some time before it’s comfortable and safe to board a plane and travel to a far-off wine destination.


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When the borders open up and travel resumes again safely, here are some spots that we think you should consider traveling to taste wine and enjoy some time away from the couch. Here are our top 10 wine regions to visit when travel resumes in 2021.

Best Wine Destinations To VIsit in 2021 | Winetraveler.com
Winding country roads and vines on hillsides abound throughout Santa Barbara County in California. Image courtesy David M. Schrader / iStock.

U.S. Wine Destinations to Explore

Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

Serious Winetravelers love exploring upcoming and lesser-known wine regions, so why not head over to Lehigh Valley in eastern Pennsylvania and see what is going on in this emerging region? Designated as an AVA in 2008, this area is now home to eight family-owned wineries and vineyards making award-winning wine. Have you ever had a glass of Chambourcin? If the answer is no (or even yes) it’s time to explore Pennsylvania wine country. For those who live in the Northeast or Mid-Atlantic U.S., this is an easy wine tasting get away from your home that may not even require a plane ride. Take some time in 2021 to explore places you may not have gone before, starting with wine tasting in Pennsylvania!


Loudoun County, VA

Loudoun County, Virginia is just about an hour outside of the hustle and bustle of Washington, D.C., but it is worlds away from the craziness of a major city. Think of relaxing in horse country with rolling fields in between vineyards and the picturesque countryside of Virginia. Much of Loudoun County is quaint and tranquil, marked with true Virginia charm, but also easily accessible by plane if you fly into Washington-Dulles International Airport. While visiting Loudoun County, you can choose to stay at a luxury resort such as the Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg, or something more historic like the iconic Red Fox Inn. For more of a larger town feel, explore Leesburg’s farm-to-table restaurants and delightful downtown. There are over 40 wineries in Loudoun County, so there is plenty of wine tasting to be done. For a more comprehensive itinerary on this beautiful East Coast region, check out our article about exploring Loudoun County.


RELATED: 10 Top Virginia Wineries That Are a Day Trip Away from Washington DC


Santa Barbara, CA

Did you know that Santa Barbara is home to the only bi-coastal winery in the U.S.? Started in Virginia, Paradise Springs has a welcoming tasting room in downtown Santa Barbara where you can taste wine from both California and Virginia! If you want to try wines from many different producers while hopping from tasting room to tasting room and also have plenty of options for a tasty lunch, downtown Santa Barbara is a great stop just a few hours north of L.A. Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone is perhaps one of the most interesting urban tasting settings in the country. You can take a look at our recommended route here. Additionally, if you are interested in visiting wineries, there are over 200 of them in Santa Barbara County alone. This is an especially great visit for those who are Pinot Noir and Chardonnay lovers, as the Santa Barbara area is simply perfect for these varieties.

International Wine Destinations To Consider Visiting

Best Wine Regions To Visit in 2021 | Alentejo | Winetraveler.com
Alentejo is a rustic wine region near Southeastern Portugal with a rustic charm unlike any other. Image courtesy Tiago Fernandez / iStock.

Alentejo, Portugal

Portugal’s Alentejo (ah-len-TAY-zhoo) region is located south of the Tejo River that cuts across the country and flows from east to west and into the Atlantic Ocean at Lisbon. The region is about a 90-minute drive from Lisbon and is known as being sunny, safe, and a place to enjoy authentic experiences in art, history, the outdoors, food, and wine. Évora is the historic capital of the region and has buildings dating back to the 16th and 18th centuries for visitors to see and explore. When it comes to food, the region has culinary influences from the Atlantic, Mediterranean, and even Mexico, thanks to the Spanish Conquistadors who brought back gastronomic items from the New World to this region. The Alentejo region is home to 250 native grape varieties and also accounts for over one-third of the world’s cork forests. It’s truly a gem waiting to be discovered by Winetravelers eager for a new region to taste and explore.


RELATED: How To Spend 10 Days in Porto, Lisbon & Central Portugal


McLaren Vale, Australia

Known historically for old-vine Grenache and Shiraz, this South Australian wine region about a 90-minute drive from Barossa Valley has been growing in reputation for international varieties in recent years. In the McLaren Vale region, expect to taste at smaller family-owned wineries that make up the landscape. This is not the region for those who only like big-box wineries, as many of the producers in this area are experimental and entrepreneurial. Luckily for Winetravelers, it’s also pretty easy to get to this region, as it’s only about a 30-minute ride from the Adelaide airport. When looking for something a little different while traveling through Australia, think McLaren Vale and enjoy these suggestions in our two-day itinerary article.


Recommended vineyards to visit around the world | Winetraveler.com
Vineyards and legendary views can be found just outside the city of Cromwell in Central Otago, New Zealand.

Central Otago, New Zealand

Visit the world’s most southerly wine region! Central Otago, New Zealand is a mountainous region on the South Island of New Zealand that produces just a small amount of the total wine production of the country, yet offers a big chance to see some of the area’s natural beauty. Most of the plantings here are of Pinot Noir, but other varieties that can be found in the region are Pinot Gris, Riesling, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. Besides wine tasting, travelers through the area can also engage in some of the adventure activities offered in Queenstown, New Zealand’s adventure capital. Visitors have options to participate in bungee jumping, sky diving, and other adventurous activities, along with a thriving nightlife scene. For a quieter option, check out the nearby town of Cromwell for a more peaceful meal in a small, historic town.


RELATED: 10 Picturesque Wine Regions For Photography Lovers


Recommended Wine Regions to Visit | Winetraveler.com
The French region of Provence has a classic European charm that is hard to match.

Provence, France

Visiting Provence is good for the soul. This stunning region in the South of France is known for its lovely, endless lavender fields and its dry, refreshing rosé. We love Provence because you can rosé all day, every day when you visit the many wineries in this countryside region. Don’t forget to revel in the historical little towns that dot the coast, as there is a lot to be shared by these medieval towns and walled-in cities. The Mediterranean Sea presents the perfect backdrop to enjoy all the wine tasting you desire. We have several resources for discovering Provence. You can also find more information about this gorgeous French region here.


RELATED: 3 Beautiful Luxury Hotels To Stay at in Provence, France


Salta, Argentina

For the ultimate in adventurous wine tasting, head to Salta, Argentina where you can taste wine from some of the highest vineyards in the world. Embark on the Salta Wine Trail out of Salta City and down to Cafayate, where you will find wineries such as Bodega El Esteco, Piattelli Vineyards, and Amalaya. You can also enjoy a nightcap at the local Big Brothers Wine Bar in downtown Cafayate. Feeling like a drive down remote Argentine highways and dirt roads? Headway up the mountain to the extremely secluded Bodega Colomé, which boasts the highest vineyards in all the world at around 10,000 feet. For wine traveling through Salta, it might be a good idea to rent a 4×4 and a satellite phone because these vineyards are definitely off the beaten path! Learn more about some of the wineries you can visit in Salta in our article showcasing them.


Rías Baixas, Spain

Raise your hand if you love Albariño! This white grape that is known for making crisp, citrusy wine is primarily found in the Rías Baixas region in the northwestern region of Galicia, Spain. This part of Spain is perfect for the seafood-loving Winetraveler, as the wine from this coastal region pairs perfectly with fresh fish and oysters caught nearby. In fact, as you’re driving around this region, you’re likely to find fishing villages that are centuries old and locked into time, which only adds to the authenticity of the region. When planning the next trip to Spain, or even northern Portugal, make sure Rías Baixas is on the itinerary.


Veneto, Italy

The Veneto region of Italy is home to many styles of favorite Italian wines. Whether you love Soave or Amarone, Prosecco or Valpolicella, you can find it all when you visit the Veneto region. Not to mention, charming cities galore from Verona to Venice. At Winetraveler, we’ve created a special interactive itinerary for a romantic Veneto adventure found exclusively on our Winetraveler App. If you’re looking for places to wine, dine, see, and rest, we’ve got you covered. Everything you need to know about traveling to Veneto can be found there. Before you plan your next trip to Italy, learn more about how to plan travel to Italy on our blog.

These are only 10 suggested regions to visit once travel resumes, but of course, there are many, many more wonderful wine regions across the world. If you’re looking for some of our other favorites, simply browse Winetraveler’s Free App or web resources and itineraries to start charting a course.


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Comments ( 3 )

  1. Great list and makes me want to get on a plane! I am pretty busy exploring BC Wine Country these days (and sticking close to home) but this is perfect arm-char travel inspo! In addition to McLaren Vale, Tasmania is another spot in Aus to keep your eye on I think…Cheers!

  2. So many wine regions so little time! Interestingly, the ones we haven’t been to yet are the ones that among the closest — VA & PA. Now if that dang border could open up we could take your advice!

  3. What a terrific list! So many places to research and visit. I can highly recommend Santa Barbara and lucky for me, it’s just a stone’s throw (or 5 hr drive) away. It will probably be the first trip we make when we are able.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jacqueline Coleman is a professional wine + travel writer, wine judge, columnist, and consultant based in Miami, FL.

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