There’s no shortage of choice when it comes to wine holidays, not least because wine is produced in some beautiful parts of the world. We can’t do them all justice here, of course, but see our wine travel guides section for more ideas. Below, you can find six wine tour ideas in 2020.
Follow the Prosecco road
Prosecco DOCG country in north-east Italy became one of the latest wine regions to join the UNESCO World Heritage club in 2019.
If you’re a fan of Italy’s best-known sparkling wine then this is where many of the best examples are made.
Its UNESCO listing describes a ‘chequerboard pattern’ of grassy terraces that have been cultivated to grow vines on the region’s steep slopes and ‘hogback hills’ for several centuries.
You’ll find many wineries dotted along the so-called ‘Prosecco road’ that runs between the towns of Valdobbiadene and Conegliano; the latter is about a 40-minute drive north from Venice’s Marco Polo airport.
If you love crowds then consider visiting in the third weekend in May, for the Conegliano Valdobbiadene Festival.
Italy is not short of UNESCO-listed areas and its 55 sites also include the patchwork vineyard landscape of Barolo country in Piedmont. More adventurous souls might wish to venture south to the island of Pantelleria, however.
Yamanashi: Home of Japanese Koshu wines
Tokyo is due to host an event called the Olympic Games this year, so it seems opportune to consider Japanese wine.
You might have considered visiting Japan for the cherry blossom season, the saké breweries or the fantastic cuisine, but what about the vineyards?
Yamanashi Prefecture to the west of Tokyo is home some of the country’s best wineries, including Grace – a serial winner at the Decanter World Wine Awards thanks to its Koshu wines.
Most Koshu grapes are grown in this region and they represent Japan’s calling card to a large extent, but Decanter’s Elin McCoy wrote last year that excellent wines made from European grape varieties often fly under the radar.
‘Even in Yamanashi, almost every winery offers wines from varieties besides Koshu,’ she wrote.
‘At Lumiere, a spicy Tempranillo and a soft, plummy Cabernet Franc stood out. Grace Wine, which makes several top Koshus, also excels with Bordeaux varieties.’
Bordeaux: Times are changing
Bordeaux’s Cité du Vin cultural centre now dominates the skyline to the north of the city centre, lying on the Garonne river that did so much to connect the region’s wines to the world.
It’s well worth a visit and, while its content is decidedly global, this gleaming, €80m structure is also a symbol of how Bordeaux has opened the gates to wine tourism in recent years.
Several châteaux now have restaurants on-site or near to their estates. For example, the de Boüard de Laforest family, of Château Angélus, owns Michelin-starred Le Logis de la Cadène in St-Emilion, while Silvio Denz has completely renovated Château Lafaurie Peyraguey down in Sauternes, adding a restaurant and luxury accommodation.
Many estates offer tours and visits, too, from Montrose high up in St-Estèphe to Haut-Bailly in Pessac-Léognan. Jane Anson, Decanter’s Bordeaux expert, picked some of her favourites earlier this year.
Look out for the Bordeaux wine festival, taking place in 2020 from 18 to 21 June.
McLaren Vale, South Australia
There’s a lot going on in McLaren Vale, from d’Arenberg winery’s left-field ‘Cube’ visitor centre and restaurant to new takes on classic Aussie Shiraz and Grenache.
Winemakers in this region, which reaches out to the coast south of Adelaide, have also pioneered the use of Italian and Spanish grape varieties. You can find new takes on Nero d’Avola, Tempranillo and Barbera, for instance.
Any visit should include a stop at the Victory Hotel near to Sellicks Beach, which has hosted many-a seminal meeting among local winemakers. You might not expect it from first glance, but the wine cellar here is extraordinary.
See Sarah Ahmed’s recent guide to McLaren Vale wines and the names to know.
And if you’ve journeyed across the world to visit Australia, why not try the world-class Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay wines of Margaret River, too?
California beyond Napa
If you’ve never been to Napa Valley or to Sonoma wine country, then it’s an absolute must and you can find some of the latest winery recommendations from northern California local Jess Lander here.
But, there is so much else to explore, from the laid-back vibe of Anderson Valley further north to the breathtaking coastal views of Monterey Bay – which definitely calls for a convertible car and a drive down Highway 1 from San Francisco.
South of Monterey Bay, of course, you’ll find the Santa Lucia Highlands, known for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and some of the longest growing seasons in California.
Decanter’s Stacy Slinkard has produced an excellent guide on Monterey Bay and wineries to visit for 2020, although she highlights that many producers also have tasting rooms in Monterey, Carmel or Carmel Valley, which are more accessible.
Read in full: Monterey Bay for wine lovers
Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, lying around a four-and-a-half-hour drive east of Vancouver, is generating a lot of interest in the wine world.
Why not see the action for yourself, and subsequently have the lifelong pleasure of telling people you were there in the early days?
Decanter’s Daniel Honan recently wrote that winemakers are travelling to this corner of Canada from all over the world, making it a hotbed of experimentation and energy.
‘When I started to taste the region’s wines, I knew there was potential for greatness here,’ said Olivier Humbrecht MW, of Domaine Zind-Humbrecht in Alsace and who is working with Phantom Creek Estate, one of the newest wineries in Okanagan Valley.
If you’ve got time on your hands, then a trip from California up the US west coast and into Canada could be a stunning way to spend 2020.
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