Now is the time to start planning your trips for the upcoming year. Here are some spots that we think you should consider traveling to taste wine and enjoy some time away from home. These are our top 10 wine regions to visit in 2023.
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 this year 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.
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
Portugal’s Alentejo (ah-len-TAY-zhoo) region is located south of the Tejo River, which 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 a warm and sunny place to enjoy authentic experiences in art, history, the outdoors, food, and wine. Évora is the historic capital of the region and has several important sites to visit within the old city walls, including the remains of a Roman temple, and a chapel decorated by human bones.
When it comes to food, the region has its own cultural cuisine, with culinary influences from the Atlantic, Mediterranean, and even Mexico. Portugal is home to more than 250 native grape varieties, and many of those indigenous grapes can be found in this region. Alentejo 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 dynamic region to taste and explore.
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.
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. You can easily go wine tasting, or 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.
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.
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 is known for making crisp, citrusy wine and is 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. You can even book a local seafood, boat and wine tasting experience. When planning the next trip to Spain, or even northern Portugal, make sure Rías Baixas is on the itinerary.
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 platform. 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.
Take a trip!
These are only 10 suggested regions to visit, 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 what’s trending on our site and search for travel guides and itineraries to start charting a course.