Kick up your feet and taste culture, history, grapes and relaxation, because February 18 is National Drink Wine Day. The purpose? Spread “the love and health benefits of wine.” To celebrate, toast your friends and start planning your next vacation over a glass from your favorite bottle.
For wine lovers, why not go straight to the heart of the vine? Today’s Club Traveler feature shares with you four regions known for their wines, cultures and the discovery and exploration opportunities they enable. We’ve recommended some sights to see and varieties to taste along your travels.
An old wine cellar in Montepulciano.
If you enjoy the flavors of the vine, take a trip to Tuscany, Italy, where wineries and vineyards are a must-see (and sample) for a reason. Whether you want to make an entire vacation out of wine tasting, or just a day, you won’t be disappointed in the rolling hills, history, culture and flavors of the region as you stop and sip.
Take a day trip to the Renaissance town of Montepulciano. Situated on a hill, the city is known for its medieval wine cellars and is the home of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano wine, which was labeled “noble” in the 17th century because of its quality. The red wine is made from at least 70 percent Sangiovese grapes and blended with 10 to 20 percent Canaiolo Nero, along with other local varietals, then aged for at least two years. Taste the local specialty at the Bindella estate, where wine barrels are kept in a villa that dates back to 1700. The estate not only produces 130,000 bottles of wine per year, but also produces extra-virgin olive oil from its 3,500 olive trees.
Want more Tuscan wine? Follow the route on this map and use it to start planning a five-day tour exploring the sights and tastes of not only Montepulciano, but also Montalcino and Siena in Southern Tuscany.
Napa Valley, California
Napa Valley Vineyard; photo courtesy of Chris Smart, Flickr.
Head to the Pacific and land in Napa Valley, California, where wine connoisseurs and newcomers alike will find plenty to discover. The region has more than 500 wineries, but don’t let this overwhelm you.
Choose the wineries that meet your preferences on NapaValley.com. Select your preferred cities, wine appellations and varieties, and additional amenities, like art galleries, games, and more. From there, narrow down your preferences until you’ve chosen a route built perfectly for your palate.
New to wine tasting? in the charming California town of Yountville, learn more about the art of tasting while visiting one of these wineries recommended for newcomers, like Hill Family Estate. While at the estate, visitors can also take the Garden Tour and shop for antiques.
Texas Hill Country
Becker Vineyards; photo Courtesy of Becker Vineyards.
Visit Texas and you might be surprised to find that west of Austin and north of San Antonio are tons of wineries. In total, the Texas Hill Country is home to nearly 50 wineries.
Drive to the town of Stonewall to visit Becker Vineyards, which was featured on the Fine Living Channel and produces award-winning wines, some of which are served at the White House. Try Becker's Bordeaux, Burgundian and Rhone-style wines. Love wine and wildflowers? You’re in luck. Come April, it’s wildflower season in Texas. To celebrate and soak in the season’s beautiful blooms, tour up to 48 of the area’s vineyards on the Wine and Wildflower Trail.
Want to explore more? While you’re in the area, check out the German town of Fredericksburg for boutique shopping and a good dose of Southern hospitality in between winery visits.
Virginia Vineyard, photo courtesy of Char, Flickr.
From the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Shenandoah Valley to the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia offers travelers a variety of wineries to visit out east. You won’t be able to see all of the state’s 275 wineries in one day, but this scenic wine trail along Route 211 will bring you to seven wineries and one distillery. As you cruise from one stop to the next, soak in the setting of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance and pass through inviting small towns.
At each Virginia winery, travelers and tasters will have a unique experience. Try Early Mountain Vineyards, which not only produces and pours its own wines, but also features other Virginia fine wines for traveling tasters. At Early Mountain, guests can also grab a bite, listen to live music or watch a movie under starlight.
If music and wine struck a chord, head to the historic and delightful town of Williamsburg on April 16 for the Williamsburg Music and Wine Festival.
*The photo featured at the top of this article is of Tuscany, Italy and courtesy of Filipe Fortes, Flickr.