You could spend a lifetime on tour and still not run short of interesting wineries to visit around the world.
Life is too short to drink bad wine, as the quote attributed to German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe goes.
Good wine, though, often tastes even better in the vineyard where it’s made. Not only that, you can learn more about the whole process, with the added benefit that winemakers tend to dwell in some of the more attractive corners of the earth.
Below, we’ve listed a small selection of wineries to give you inspiration for your 2020 travel plans. All have been recommended by Decanter writers and you can find links to full regional guides that have been published in our wine travel section.
Inglenook, Rutherford, Napa Valley, California
Award-winning director Francis Ford Coppola has reformed the Inglenook estate in its 19th century image since first acquiring a portion of its vineyards back in 1975.
It’s well worth making a stop on your trip through Napa Valley to taste the estate’s flagship Rubicon wine.
The ‘Inglenook Experience’ at $65 per person also gets you a walking tour of the vineyards, which are farmed organically, and a wine and cheese tasting in the cellars.
It’s best to make reservations in advance.
If you don’t want to drive and have some extra time on your hands, then the Napa Valley Wine Train’s Estate Tour includes a one-hour stop at Inglenook, among visits to other wineries.
Recommended by Katie Kelly Bell.
Chapel Down winery, Kent, UK
If you’re curious about English sparkling wine, then why not jump on a train from London and head south to Chapel Down, one of the leading wineries on the country’s emerging scene.
Not only can you book a vineyard tour and tasting, you can also get a VIP package that includes all of that plus a night’s stay at Sissinghurst Castle Farmhouse, which lies on National Trust land.
You can also get a lesson in sabrage, the high-risk yet undoubtedly most flamboyant method of uncorking a bottle of sparkling wine.
Recommended by Chris Wilson
Full guide: UK and European wineries to visit by train
Te Mata Estate, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand (north island)
New Zealand is a trip of a lifetime for many visitors, and you could probably spend several weeks touring the more than 70 wineries in Hawke’s Bay alone. If you do go, then Te Mata, founded in 1896, is one not to miss.
‘Try the estate’s extensive range, including library vintages, and book a VIP tasting of flagship wine Coleraine in the cellar,’ said Decanter contributor Amanda Barnes.
Most people couldn’t believe that New Zealand might have a future as a red wine producer until Coleraine showed how good a Bordeaux blend could be from this part of the world. You can get to the Pinots later in the trip.
Tours at Te Mata must be booked 24 hours in advance and the cellar door is open every day in the summer months, November to April. In winter, it’s closed Sundays and by appointment only on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Recommended by: Amanda Barnes
Château Montrose, St-Estèphe, Bordeaux, France
Château Montrose, nestled almost on the river in the northern Médoc, is well worth the one-hour-plus driving time from central Bordeaux.
This ‘super second’ of the Left Bank consistently produces balanced, long-lived wines and a trip to its vineyards reveals the precision that is required to do so.
You’ll find hi-tech facilities blended with a ‘green’ approach, from electric tractors to organic viticulture.
‘You will leave astonished by how much expense, effort and expertise goes into making the greatest wines of Bordeaux,’ said Jane Anson in her recent guide on the best Bordeaux châteaux to visit.
As a bonus, visiting St-Estèphe means you can drive right up the D2 that runs past many of the Médoc’s greatest estates, allowing plenty of time to pick which château you’d one day like to buy…
Visits must be booked in advance, but are free of charge.
Penfolds Magill Estate, Adelaide, South Australia
The home of Penfolds and its notorious Grange is a must for fans of Australian wine. Magill Estate lies a short distance from the centre of Adelaide; arguably worth a taxi fare given the wines you would then be able to try.
As you’d expect from such a well-known name, this is a slick operation and there are a variety of packages. The cellar door is open every day from 9am until 6pm, but you can also book a vineyard tour, eat at the gourmet restaurant or try a twilight tour and wine tasting dinner for A$550-a-head.
If you’re in the Adelaide area for a few days, then it’s also worth heading down to see the d’Arenberg winery ‘Cube’ in McLaren Vale.
Recommended by: Chris Mercer
Planning a bigger trip to Australia? See our guide to Margaret River
Ornellaia, Bolgheri, Tuscany, Italy
Ornellaia has made a name for itself as one of the top ‘Super Tuscan’ wines and is also known for its strong links to the arts.
Bask in the sunshine of the Tuscan coast as you explore artworks across the estate, before tasting through Ornellaia’s current vintages in the barrel cellar.
You can also see the artworks that have formed part of the winery’s Vendemmia d’Artista project that began in 2009, with the 2006 vintage release.
Be warned, though, booking well in advance is advised. While you’re in the area, it would be a shame not visit some of the other great Tuscan wineries, too, or perhaps take a trip down to Montalcino.
Recommended by Helen Farrell.
In full: Top Bolgheri wineries to visit
Ashes and Diamonds, Napa, California
If you’re looking for something a bit more new-wave in the Napa area – with a vintage twist – then Ashes & Diamonds could be for you.
It may look like a college campus, but the wines made and served here are a cut above the average student bar, with respected winemaker Steve Matthiasson overseeing things in the cellar, says Jess Lander.
There are a range of tasting options, starting at $40 per person for four wines, and going up to a $250 package that includes tasting Napa wines from the 1960s and 1970s with a five-course meal. It’s open daily from 11am to 7pm.
Recommended by: Jess Lander
Estate Argyros, Santorini, Greece
Santorini does get pretty busy in the summer months, but visit outside of this period and you can enjoy this Greek island’s beauty in a more relaxed style.
Family-owned Estate Argyros, established in 1903, has some of the oldest vineyards on the island, with an average vine age of 70 years. That makes it an interesting place to taste Santorini’s best-known varietal white wine, Assyrtiko.
For 40 euros per person you can get a short tour of the vineyards and a taste of seven estate wines, all paired with Greek cheeses.
Recommended by Adrian Mourby
Full guide: Top five Santorini wineries to visit
Taittinger, Reims, Champagne
Champagne, with its many miles of underground cellars, is now on the UNESCO World Heritage list and is roughly an hour away from Paris by train. Yet, it hasn’t always been easy for wine tourists here.
‘Visiting Champagne growers and houses can be notoriously difficult, since most aren’t open like cellar doors in other regions,’ says Tyson Stelzer.
Times are changing, albeit some houses offer more comprehensive visitor experiences than others.
You’ll need to make a reservation at Taittinger, but a visit offers the chance to see its underground cellars plus taste Champagnes at a house that was revitalised after being re-acquired by Pierre Emmanuel Taittinger in 2007.
If you can, it would be worth paying for one of the tastings starting at €43, to ensure a taste of Comtes de Champagne, the house’s top cuvée.
A new generation is in charge as of 2020, so this could be a good year to take a look at what’s happening.
Recommended by: Tyson Stelzer.
Casal de Armán, DO Ribeiro, Galicia, Spain
There is a hotel linked to this winery, with rooms starting at €75, so there’s no need to fruitlessly scour the Uber app after a good tasting session.
Which is just as well, because this producer is among those leading a revival of DO Ribeiro wines, mainly working with Albariño and Godello for white wines and Brancellao and Caiño for reds.
Head here for the region’s octopus festival, usually held in August.
Fans of architecture, and Rioja, should also consider swinging by the ornately-designed Marqués de Riscal, as this guide to top Spanish winery hotels suggests.
Matetic Vineyards, Valparaíso, Chile
Fancy some coastal Chilean Syrah? Between Santiago and the ocean lies Metata, a biodynamic wine estate which also has a small, on-site hotel plus a restaurant that observes ‘slow food’ principles.
There are a variety of tasting and tour options on offer here, starting at around $20 for a basic tour with two wines.
Recommended by: Amanda Barnes
Ken Forrester Vineyards, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Stellenbosch is renowned as one of the most beautiful vineyard regions in the world. It’s hard not to take the stunning views for granted once you’ve been there for a few days.
A stop at Ken Forrester’s 96 Winery Road restaurant is a great way to laze away the afternoon or spend an evening. If you do, it should be mandatory that at least someone in your party tries the steak. The wine list is extensive and doesn’t just offer Forrester wines. Taxis are available to and from Cape Town.
A short distance down the road is the Forrester cellar door, which also offers a range of tastings of whites and reds across the range for between 60 and 150 rand (£10), plus food pairings. It’s normally closed on Sundays.
For a much smaller-scale experience within reach of Cape Town, Luddite Wines, run by Niels and Penny Verburg in Bot River in the Western Cape, is a great little spot with interesting wines. It’s open for tastings on weekdays, by appointment.
Recommended by: Chris Mercer
If you’ve time, try these: Hemel-en-Aarde wineries to visit in the Western Cape
This article was originally published in January 2019, but new recommendations have been added in February 2020.
See all of our wine tour guides here