I just got back from France. What wine-producing country should I go to next?
When you say “France,” did you mean all of it? While I get you wanting to add a few more stamps to your passport; the French do hold the deeds to some of the oldest, not to mention beautiful, real-estate in the wine world. So, if you haven’t basked in the glory of the châteaux of Bordeaux’s Medoc, gazed upon Saint-Émilion from the Place du Clocher, walked the underground cellars in Champagne, drove Burgundy’s Route des Grands Crus or spent even a second in the Loire, the Rhône and Alsace; you’ve got a lot more to see.
Given France the grand tour? Your next trip needs to be to Italy. With one hand on my well-worn copy of The World Atlas of Wine, I’ll swear that no other culture combines food, wine and wine tourism like the Italians. Your first stop should be the northern region of Veneto, the home of Valpolicella, Soave, most of Prosecco, the wine city of Verona and, a little town where the Bellini was invented, called Venice. Three hours away is Piedmont, which offers some of the most majestic vineyard views on Earth. Central Italy has Tuscany, Umbria and Marche, and heading south you’ll marvel at the vineyards of Campania and Puglia. It’s a country that, as a wine lover, is everything you’ll ever hope it will be.
While I could pledge my love for the Old World for paragraphs (forgive the miss, Spain and Germany), the New World offers more than its fair share of scenic wonders. If California arguably invented the idea that wineries could be tourist attractions, its coastal neighbours in Oregon and Washington have run with the idea. Closer to home, vintners in BC, Ontario and Nova Scotia have each created their own winery-based experiences that will make you proud to be a Canadian wine drinker.
If your vacation budget can cover some major time in the air, I can’t say enough about investing in a journey to New Zealand. Though Australia has its charms, when you land in New Zealand wine country you’ll be quick to appreciate how appealingly different its liquor landscape is. A journey to South Africa will give you a similar experience. I’m not just talking about the wine; geographically these countries look like no other.
Who’d I miss? Argentina, Chile, Portugal, Croatia? I’ve left a piece of my heart in too many wine regions to mention. In the end my advice is that anywhere wine is made is more than worth your time.