Plan Your Perfect Wine Trip

From the snow-capped Andes framing the vineyards of Argentina to the lush, verdant countryside of Brazil, my recent travels to the wine-rich regions of South America have left me itching to plan my next adventure – and yours too!

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Photo by Jarrett Michael Buffington

In this guide, you’ll find my best tips for planning the perfect wine trip, tailored to your taste and preferences. But first, why should you plan a trip that’s centered around wine? And what makes it different from going on a regular holiday and adding a tasting or tour?

Embarking on a wine-focused trip allows you to immerse yourself in the culture that shapes each region’s unique wine identity. You don’t simply visit; you experience. You’ll engage with the history, the climate, and the very terroir that gives each wine its character. It’s an adventure where the vineyards tell stories, the winemakers become your guides, and each glass offers a deeper understanding of the place you’re visiting.

Convinced? Pack your bags (and your wine glasses), we’re going on an adventure!

Step 1 – Choose Your Wine Destination

The first step in planning your perfect wine trip is deciding where you want to go. Wine regions are scattered across the globe, each offering a unique experience, so your options are truly endless.

Whether you’re planning on a trip abroad or staying local, you can always find regional (and more affordable) options. Consider the types of wine you love and the kind of experience you want. Do you prefer Old World or New World wines? Do you want a rural escape or a vibrant wine city? Your choice of destination will set the tone for your trip.

But to help you narrow it down, here are a few destinations at the top of my list:

  • Sonoma County, California: Famous for its Bordeaux and Cabernet Sauvignon. Instead of visiting the ever-popular Napa Valley, head about 10 miles north to one of the most booming wine capitals in the U.S. You’ll experience breathtaking natural beauty, a diverse culinary scene, and of course, many high-quality wines.
  • Provence, France: Known for its rosé and orange wines. Bordeaux may be the go-to for a wine trip in France, but if you look a little more south, you’ll find yourself in beautiful Provence. Home to several wineries, beautiful chateaux, lavender fields, and a slower pace of a life, you’ll find smaller, boutique vineyards for a more bespoke experience. Plus, you’ll get to fulfill your fantasies of sipping rosé in a castle by the Mediterranean Sea. What more could you ask for?
  • Willamette Valley, Oregon: Some of the Pacific Northwest’s finest Riesling, Chardonnay, and Gamay. After California, Oregon is one of the top wine producing states in the country. Oregon wineries are known for having incredible experiences that you won’t want to miss. Sip your Chardonnay in the some of the most beautiful nature on the west coast, with the ocean to your left and the Cascade Mountain range to your right.
  • Douro Valley, Portugal: Port wine, Douro Red and Douro White can all be found here. The famous Port Wine was born here, and you can experience history in a glass by visiting some of the oldest wineries in the world. With stunning landscapes, incredible food, river cruises and more, you won’t want to miss this chance to explore a completely new culture.
  • Mendoza, Argentina Known for Malbec, the flagship grape of this region! Mendoza, nestled in the foothills of the Andes, stands as the heart of Argentina’s vibrant wine culture. Renowned globally for its Malbec, the region boasts an impressive array of vineyards and wineries set against a stunning backdrop of mountainous landscapes. Mendoza’s wine scene is a perfect fusion of traditional winemaking techniques and modern innovations, resulting in robust reds and crisp whites that have left me counting the days until I can go back!

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A vineyard in Provence, France.

Step 2 – Plan Your Itinerary

Once you’ve selected your destination, it’s time to plan what your day-to-day life will look like. Research the wineries you want to visit and make reservations where necessary. Be sure to include a mix of well-established, iconic wineries, and smaller, boutique vineyards for a more intimate experience.

Consider taking a wine tour or hiring a local guide who can provide insights into the region, its history, and its wine culture. AirBnb Experiences are a great resource for a new region if you’re looking for a local to guide you around! Don’t forget to plan for some downtime to relax and explore the local cuisine and attractions.

You may also want to schedule appointments with winemakers, sommeliers, and wine educators to gain deeper insights into their processes and philosophies. This behind-the-scenes access can be incredibly enriching and can help enhance your experience. Check with the winery’s website and read reviews from past travelers for advice on specific guides, tours, and more.

Step 3 – Stay Comfortably

Choose accommodations that enhance your wine trip experience. Many wine regions offer charming vineyard estates or boutique hotels located amidst the vineyards. These options allow you to wake up to breathtaking views and, in some cases, even have wine tastings on-site. Again, Airbnb is a great place to start looking at places to stay next to your wineries, and many offer transportation options or even allow you to stay directly in a vineyard!

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Tuscany, Italy.

Cristie’s Tips to Maximize Your Trip

Wine Tasting Techniques

You’ll want to fully appreciate the wines you’re tasting. Read my blog post on how to taste wine like a pro if you don’t know where to begin. Or consider taking my Online Wine Course which will fully prepare you for your trip, and can even help you show off your knowledge to your group.

Pack Smart

When packing for your big trip, don’t forget the essentials. You’ll need comfortable footwear for walking through vineyards, a wine carrier or wine suitcase to transport any bottles you purchase, and a corkscrew in case you decide to enjoy some wine at your accommodations. Instagrammable outfits are also a must.

Be Safe

Don’t let the fun of the trip stop you from drinking responsibly. While it’s tempting to indulge, remember to pace yourself and have a designated driver or arrange transportation if needed. The goal is to savor the wine and to remember all the details.

Final Thoughts

Experiencing a city through its wine culture is perfect for a solo trip, a romantic getaway with your partner, or the girls weekend of a lifetime. From choosing your ideal destination to embracing the local culture, this is bound to be a memorable adventure. So grab your wine glass, set your itinerary, and embark on a journey of flavor, culture, and discovery.

Cheers to the perfect trip!

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The Douro Valley, Portugal

Sources:

1: https://usawineratings.com/en/blog/insights-1/an-introduction-to-the-top-10-wine-regions-of-the-usa-38.htm
2: https://www.firstleaf.com/wine-school/article/top-wine-regions
3: https://vervewine.com/blogs/the-blog/old-world-vs-new-world-everything-you-need-to-know
4: https://southamericawineguide.com/winery-guide-south-america/?wineries=peru-wineries