When travelling, it is always important to never forget to stop and smell the flowers. Or as I prefer – taste the wine! An incredible benefit of my job is that I am able to travel the world, experience different cultures, taste delicious foods, and savor some of the world’s finest wine. If you’re a wine lover like I am, I encourage you to venture to one (or all) of these 7 places on your next adventure, it will take you to heaven and back.
San Gimignano, an ancient city within Tuscany, known for its perfectly preserved medieval architecture provides the perfect essence to Italian wine. The town is famous for its Vernaccia di San Gimignano, a dry white wine made in the region since the 13th century. It’s like taking a trip back in time where you can sit back, relax and revel in the spectacle of ancient architecture while sipping some of the world’s most aromatic wine. Hungry? I usually am after a day of riding or sightseeing. This unique wine is paired perfectly with local foods such as wild boar or mushroom risotto.
Piedmont is the perfect getaway. The region stays ahead of the game in terms of wine making technology it is arguably one of Italy’s finest wine regions. What I love most about Piedmont is its reputation as the “Burgundy of Italy” due impart to its small-scale, family wineries that focus, almost obsessively, on quality. Never one to follow commercial wines, Piedmont is perfect for me. I can sip wines made from Nebbiolo grapes, have the wind blowing in my hair and just forget about all of my troubles. If you’re looking for a relaxing, wine-filled holiday, Piedmont is it.
I cannot write an article about the best places to drink wine without mentioning France, or more specifically Burgundy. I started my company in the vineyards of Burgundy 18 years ago and it will always hold a special place in my heart. By simply stepping off the train, you’re engulfed in a whirlwind of fresh air, a relaxed atmosphere, and scenery to die for. After the initial impression, it becomes evident that Burgundy has a rich wine culture, all its own. With the practice of delineating vineyards by their terroir dating back to medieval times, the region simply grew and developed around its wine culture. Burgundies – dry red wines made from Pinot noir grapes and white wine made from Chardonnay grapes – are some of my favorite wines as they have the perfect blend of richness, tartness and fruitiness.
La Rioja, Spain
Imagine sipping some of the world’s most flavorful wine while picnicking at the castle of Pernaranda. That’s the kind of wine vacation that La Rioja offers, and that’s the kind of wine vacation I love. Most wine enthusiasts are familiar with the bold wines of La Rioja. This region of Spain has over 500 wineries and is internationally famous for the quality of its wine. The climates of this region makes it perfect for enjoying La Rioja’s bountiful wine choices while sitting on a stoop overlooking the region’s stunning scenery. Now that’s what I call an unbeatable pairing.
Wine, beaches and local seafood; what could be better? Most people visit Croatia for its beaches and scenery, but I visit Croatia for its viticulture. Wine is an experience, and Croatia provides some of the best. As it is a nation of islands, Croatia has more than three hundred geographically defined wine districts bunched into a relatively small area. Each island has its own flavors, both metaphorically and literally, making Croatia a must-visit. My favorite Croatian past time? Island hopping. Why? So I can experience the different culture, the different foods, the different scenery and of course the different wines.
Mendoza is yet another destination I’d recommend to wine lovers. Located in the foothills of the Andes, Mendoza is the heart of Argentina’s winemaking industry in Argentina, and rightfully so since the region accounting for nearly two-thirds of the country’s entire wine production. Just as it’s known for its famous landscapes, glaciers and jungles, Argentina is also known for its meat and wine. The Malbec is one of the country’s most famous red wines, boasting a smooth full-bodied, fruity flavor. There’s nothing quite like enjoying a hearty meal of top-grade sirloin and sipping wine while being immersed in some of nature’s most spectacular marvels.
Santa Barbara, USA
When people think of wine in the US, the first place that comes to mind is Napa Valley. But rather than going the typical route, I’d recommend Santa Barbara, an often overlooked gem. The small, Danish-inspired town of Solvang in Santa Barbara County has all the quaintness and charm of a small European village, while being home to some of the most amazing Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah. Taking a walk through the cobbled streets to enjoy the architecture and windmills, you’d swear you had just arrived at a quintessential European town. The fresh smells, the old architecture, the wine culture, and the friendly people will only make this experience more enjoyable.
Andy Levine is the President/Founder of DuVine Cycling + Adventure Co.