Thinking of planning a trip to somewhere with great wine in 2019? Here is a small selection of wineries - including winery restaurants and hotels - for your bucket list, recommended by Decanter contributors.
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.
So, how many wine regions have you checked on your bucket list? Ever tried to visit a first growth? Or is 2019 the year to finally organise that road trip through New Zealand?
Below, we’ve listed a small selection of wineries to give you inspiration for your 2019 travel plans. All have been recommended by Decanter writers.
There are far too many options to mention here, of course, and you can find more ideas in our wine travel section.
Te Mata Estate, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand (north island)
Let’s start with the aforementioned road trip. You could spend several months touring the more than 70 wineries in New Zealand’s Hawke’s Bay alone, but 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,’ says 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
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 top Hunter Valley wineries to visit
Château Mouton Rothschild, Bordeaux, France
There’s no shortage of choices in Bordeaux, which has also got its act together on wine tourism in a big way in recent years, from château-owned restaurants to the imposing Cité du Vin in the city centre.
Mouton is appointment-only – like many of the top Bordeaux estates – and it asks visitors to fill out a reservation form on its website. As well as wine tasting, look out for the exhibition showing every Mouton vintage label – each one since 1945 designed by a well-known artist.
To get to Mouton, you can drive up the D2, which will take you past many of the Left Bank’s big hitters. Which one would you most like to live in? It’s also worth continuing a little further north from Mouton to take in Lafite Rothschild, with its laid-back charm, and the more ostentatiously decorated Cos d’Estournel. Both are visible from the road, if you don’t have time to book more tours.
Note: Tourists should avoid the official en primeur tasting days, running from the 1st to 4th April in 2019. The preceding weekend will also be very busy.
Recommended by: Chris Mercer
Need a room? See our guide to the best Bordeaux hotels
Biondi Santi, Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy
‘There is only one place to start your Montalcino wine tour,’ writes Helen Farrell, explaining that Biondi Santi lies five minutes by car from the centre of this hilltop town now renowned for the world-famous Brunello wines made from Sangiovese.
More than that, this is a piece of Brunello di Montalcino history.
‘It is impossible not to feel a buzz as you drive along the avenue of cypresses that lead to [Biondi Santi’s] Tenuta Greppo,’ says Decanter contributor Richard Baudains.
Again, you’ll need an appointment, but if you can navigate that then the tour itself is free.
Recommended by: Helen Farrell
Joseph Phelps, St. Helena, Napa Valley, California
Take a brief detour from the Silverado Trail and taste wines from a historic producer on a terrace looking out on forest and vineyards. Life could be worse. There are also redwood trees at Phelps house; redwoods are an attraction in themselves for any trip to California.
This sort of deal comes with a price, however, and you can expect to pay $85 per person for a terrace tasting – unless you’re a ‘Phelps Preferred’ member.
For an alternative experience, try the tasting rooms at Miner Family Vineyards – also on the Silverado Trail – where you can pay $25 per person and the space is rarely crowded, says Stephen Brook.
Recommended by: Stephen Brook
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
Ruinart, 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.
Founded in 1768, before the French Revolution, Ruinart has some of the most impressive chalk cellars in the region and was believed to be among the first to use the great caverns lying beneath Rue des Crayères.
Its cellars are currently closed until 14 March 2019, but it’s worth the wait. Visits are by appointment only and cost €70 per person.
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, says Sarah Jane Evans MW.
Head here for the region’s octopus festival, usually held in August.
Recommended by: Sarah Jane Evans MW
In full: Great winery hotels in Spain
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