wine travel

I’ve been writing about wine travel longer than I’ve been writing about chocolate travel. So I thought I’d do a quick round up of some of the fabulous wine regions I’ve had the pleasure of visiting.

The Marquis de Riscal Wine Resort in El Ciego, Spain is one of the most incredible places I've ever stayed.

Part of the Starwood Luxury Collection, The Marques de Riscal Wine Resort in El Ciego, Spain, is one of the most incredible places I’ve ever stayed.

I’d say that the Rioja region of Spain is probably the most memorable wine region I’ve visited to date. Why? Because I love everything about Spain. The breath-taking scenery, the stunning architecture, the multi-layered culinary creations, the fabulous chocolate, and the full-bodied red wines that enhance pretty much any meal or occasion. This is where I discovered Tempranillo and Crianza, two bold and voluptuous reds that have brought a smile to my face on many occasions.

I also visited a winery on the island of Santorini in Greece where I discovered Boutari. Like Spain, Greece is a country filled with intense flavours and aromas. Boutari (which comes in white or red) is a great wine for pairing with Greek foods. The Nauossa Boutari red is considered the finest Greek wine and has won many prestigious awards. I haven’t had it lately, but the 2009 vintage is definitely one of my favourites.

Lodi considers itself the "Wine Grape Capital of California"

Lodi considers itself the “Wine Grape Capital of California”

Closer to home, in 2013 I visited wine country in California, spending time in the Napa Valley, Sonoma, and Lodi. Since familiarizing myself with the wines of Europe, I’ve considered myself an Old World wine girl, but I must say that the Old Vine Zin (Zinfandel) that I tasted in California has given me a greater respect for California wines.

Nk'Mip Cellars at Spirit Ridge in Osoyoos offers fantastic food and wine.

Nk’Mip Cellars at Spirit Ridge in Osoyoos, British Columbia, offers fantastic food and wine.

I’ve also discovered some amazing wines in British Columbia, Canada, and was happy to head back to Spirit Ridge in Osoyoos in January, 2015 to do some more tasting at the Nk’Mip Cellars. They have a wide range of award-winning wines, along with nearby Burrowing Owl Winery. Last time I was at Burrowing Owl, I brought home a case of Cabernet Franc–a deep bold red–with me, but it has changed over the past few years, or maybe my taste buds have changed, as I didn’t quite enjoy the 2013 vintage as much as I had the 2006 vintage on my previous visit.

The cuisine at wine resorts is usually impeccable. Pictured here is a delicious meal we enjoyed at Nk'Mip Cellars in Osoyoos.

The cuisine at wine resorts is usually impeccable. Pictured here is a delicious meal we enjoyed at Nk’Mip Cellars in Osoyoos.

There are also some great wines being produced in the Niagara and Prince Edward County Regions of Ontario. You’ll find a fruitier variety of wines being produced in Nova Scotia, Canada, as well–perfect for hot summer days.

What’s on my wish list for wine travel? I love Bordeaux wine from France, so would love to visit that well-renowned wine region.ย I also love the Sauvignon Blanc white wine being produced in New Zealand, and have certainly enjoyed some of the Wolf Blass reds from Australia. And as that region of the world is on my list of chocolate travel destinations planned for Volume III of Chocolatour, you can be sure I’ll get there in the next few years. As well, I’d like to visit Chile and Argentina. In my opinion, there are few better reds than a fine Argentinian Malbec.

Malbec wine from the Mendoza region of Argentina is a terrific moderately priced wine.

Malbec wine from the Mendoza region of Argentina is a terrific moderately-priced wine.

I hope that the grapes and vintages I’ve named will encourage you to try some new wines! And if you’re interested in wine travel, you are sure to enjoy the blog of my friend Veronica Leonard, who calls herself the wine tourist and runs this fine blog. As well, in her book, Unquenchable, wine writer Natalie MacLean shares some of her favourite places to experience wine travel.

Have you experienced travel for the sake of discovering new wines? If so, please share some memories or tips with us. Cheers!

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

40 Responses

  1. noel says:

    It looks like you’ve been to a few magical places, I would love to visit the Rioja area some day. What a stunning winery!
    noel recently posted…Downtown Vegas is Where It’s AtMy Profile

    • Doreen
      Twitter:
      says:

      Hi Noel and thanks for your comment. The photo I’ve used shows the Frank Gehry designed Marquis de Riscal Wine Resort, which is attached to the original Marquis de Riscal winery constructed of old brick. It’s amazing how Gehry has managed to blend the old with the new and make it work!
      Doreen recently posted…Have you found YOUR tribe?My Profile

  2. Leigh says:

    I’ve taken some intense wine tasting courses over the years and feel that every day I should have at least a small glass of wine – except Mondays and Tuesdays, unless I’m outdoors being active and then, well I have to have a glass.
    Prince Edward County produces some great wines – favourite is the Closson Chase chardonnay. I have biked through Burgundy, home to Mersualt my very favourite wine. Loved Argentina & Chile for its wines but I think if you’re in the US, the Californian wines can’t be missed. Anything from Cakebread was excellent. The Tantalus Riesling is a knock-out from the Okanagan. PS The Spanish winery looks amazing.
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    • Doreen
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      says:

      Hi Leigh and thanks for sharing some of your fav wines with us. I’ve never heard of the Mersault varietal. I’ll have to look for it! And I will also look for the Tantalus Riesling when I’m in the Okanagan. I’ve heard of it, so I may have tried it but would have to see the bottle to be sure. Rieslings are a great libation for hot weather or with sweets.
      Doreen recently posted…wine travelMy Profile

  3. Chris
    Twitter:
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    Hopefully you do get to visit some of Australia’s wine growing regions!

    We have some amazing wines, especially (in my opinion) reds ๐Ÿ™‚
    Chris recently posted…Durango UnchainedMy Profile

    • Doreen
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      Hi Chris: Yes, some Australian reds are pretty darn good. But they’re not my fav. However, I do know that many excellent smaller wineries do not export abroad (this is true in every region of the world.) So just like with artisan chocolate–where I am recommending folks consider chocolate travel in order to taste the best–I believe the same to be true in the wine world. You’ve got to GO to the region, to taste its best offerings.
      Doreen recently posted…Have you found YOUR tribe?My Profile

  4. Your around the world wine tour was very interesting! The wine resort in Spain looked amazing!

  5. Suzanne Fluhr
    Twitter:
    says:

    You have certainly picked worthy niches to cover—-chocolate and wine—and, in moderation, they’re both supposed to be good for you. Like everyone else who has commented, I’m completely in awe of that winery in Spain. Even though I have no particular expertise in wine, I have visited wineries in Napa, California; the Margaret River Valley in Western Australia and outside Mendoza, Argentina where we stayed at a wine lodge with a magnificent view of the Andes. In October, we’re scheduled to visit one in South Africa. Wine certainly seems to strike a chord in many parts of the world. Salud!
    Suzanne Fluhr recently posted…My Boomer Baby: Meet Mr. ExcitementMy Profile

    • Doreen
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      says:

      Right on, Suzanne! It is so true that moderation is key–with pretty much everything! I must say, though, that if I covered the wine beat on a regular basis, I would likely be 20 pounds heavier, as every wine resort I’ve been to has served amazing food. I had a 14-course tasting meal at the one in Rioja, each course paired with a different one of their wines! One of the most memorable meals of my life.
      Doreen recently posted…Have you found YOUR tribe?My Profile

  6. Your photo of the wine and raspberries could only have been enhanced with some chocolate for the finishing touch. You’ve been to some amazing places and hopefully Napa will recover from the earthquake damage it suffered this past week.
    Neva recently posted…Bravely Walking With Scottish GhostsMy Profile

    • Doreen
      Twitter:
      says:

      You’re absolutely right, Neva! I probably should have included a pic with some chocolate and wine. But it was late at night when I wrote the post and I was tired, and the pic I used was the first one I came to with an Argentinian Malbec. Cheers! And yes, positive thoughts to those affected by the quake in Napa. I heard that none of the wineries were affected. Primarily the old buildings along the main drag in the town of Napa.
      Doreen recently posted…Have you found YOUR tribe?My Profile

  7. I’m sure one of your upcoming posts will be about chocolate and wine pairings! Would love to learn more about them from an expert like you.
    Irene S. Levine recently posted…Guiltfree glamping in the Masai MaraMy Profile

  8. Donna Janke says:

    I too like a Tempranillo and Argentinian Malbec. I’ve recently discovered a number of the wineries in British Columbia and they are producing some very nice wines.

  9. A Northern California girl who loves wine, I am very familiar with Napa and Sonoma wineries. I also enjoy visiting wineries as I travel. Here is one I enjoyed in Cape May, New Jersey!, http://travelswithcarole.blogspot.com/2013/10/things-to-do-cape-may-winery-cape-may.html
    Carole Terwilliger Meyers recently posted…Great Sleeps: Kiahuna Plantation and The Beach Bungalows, Poipu, Kauai, HawaiiMy Profile

  10. Susan Cooper
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hi Doreen. I’m glad you were able to visit our California wine country and spend some quality time in Napa Valley and Sonoma. The Old Vine Zin is good, isn’t it? ๐Ÿ™‚
    Susan Cooper recently posted…Riding Lessons: #StoryMy Profile

  11. Jeri
    Twitter:
    says:

    My wine travels have not been too extensive so far, but there are years ahead of me to start chipping away at my list. I did visit the Napa area years ago, but it was before I was as into wine as I am today. Next summer I think I will explore the Columbia River basin as that is not too far from home, and there’s plenty of wineries along the Snake River Valley. I’m going to make sure to find a place to have a glass of wine in France in a few weeks somewhere along the Rhine just for the bragging rights ๐Ÿ˜‰
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  12. Michelle
    Twitter:
    says:

    The Marquis de Riscal Wine Resort in El Ciego in Spain looks amazing! your food photos have succeeded in making me hungry ๐Ÿ™‚ That raspberry dessert looks divine.
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  13. It has been our experience that chocolate and wine go together very well. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    The Gypsynesters recently posted…Look Mom, Iโ€™m in North Korea!My Profile

  14. Very fabulous place!!! some day i want to visit this place ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you for your comment!
    Mingma recently posted…Trekking in NepalMy Profile

  15. Wine, chocolate, raspberries – that’s the life! Or, perhaps, Heaven? Either way, a delightful roundup here, Doreen.
    A Spanish oncologist in Madrid once solemnly instructed me (as we sipped a full-bodied Rioja over lunch): “Remember, Ursula, one glass of red wine a day – but not more than two.” How could I ignore such excellent professional advice? ๐Ÿ™‚
    Ursula Maxwell-Lewis ( recently posted…Transport system can handle diluted bitumenMy Profile

  16. Hi Doreen
    Thanks for the mention in your blog. I envy you the scope of your wine touring. I’m busy working my way through the wineries of Ontario and Nova Scotia 2-3 at a time and anything I can add when travelling abroad.
    I’m just back from Austria and discovered Mozart Kugeln. Were these mentioned in your Chocolatouring book?
    Veronica Leonard recently posted…Wine and Laughter at Rosehall TheatreMy Profile

  17. Cheryl
    Twitter:
    says:

    I have never traveled for tasting wine. Your photos looks great! It would appear that you have visited some pretty magical places. I would bet you have some more in the not-too-distant future.

  18. Catarina says:

    Funny you should mention the Marquis de Riscal. He was a friend of mine about 20 years ago but we lost touch. Nice guy and tasty wine.
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  19. Catarina says:

    The man who held the title Margues de Riscal, 20 years ago.
    Catarina recently posted…Social media โ€“ influence talks!My Profile

  20. Hmm. I’m certainly near B.C., but I didn’t know their wine was… particularly good? Haven’t heard much about wine from there. I’m always up for a drive through California wine country, especially the beautiful back roads around Santa Barbara. As far as wine country I’d like to get to, definitely Chile and Argentina, but also South Africa. I love pinotage!
    Mary recently posted…Sun Valley Skating Part IIMy Profile

  21. The Cabernet a Franc from Burrowing Owl is one of my favs, Mary. If I were you, I’d Google ‘best BC wines’ to see some of the latest recs for more. I’m heading back to Osoyoos in Jan for more research. Cheers!
    Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…book review: Being Grateful, Being ThankfulMy Profile

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