Some of the best wine tasting tours in the world include scenic walks through vineyards, grape-stomping experiences, and of course, sampling wine! Learn how to properly appreciate Chianti while touring a castle in Tuscany, or pour a glass of Bordeaux in a château in France. Wine is a beautiful thing and so are the regions in which it is grown, so pop the cork, and make a toast to your next (or first) wine tasting tour!
AGODA EXTRA: Wine can be made from a variety of grape species and fruits, but the most commonly used grape is Vitis vinifera. On average, a cluster contains 75 grapes, and that’s about what it takes to produce one glass of wine. One grape vine, consequently, produces about 10 bottles of wine, and a vineyard with 400 vines will harvest about five tons (10,000 pounds) of grapes each growing season. Cheers!
1. Wine Tasting Tours | Napa Valley, USA
With more than 400 wineries to visit, Napa Valley in California contains all the essentials of a proper wine tasting tour. First-timers can board the historic Napa Valley Wine Train for a tour of the region and a gourmet meal and sign up for a food and wine class at The CIA at Copia (The Culinary Institute of America). Sommeliers, or wine experts, will want to walk down Silverado Trail and sample selections from more than 40 local wineries.
Many of the wineries in Napa Valley specialize in Cabernet Sauvignon (red) and Chardonnay (white) wine, but each has its own unique flavors and added touches. Visit Schramsberg Vineyards to tour historic wine caves and sip sparkling wine, or create your own blend in a barrel at Conn Creek Winery. At all wineries in Napa Valley, guests are encouraged to chat with winemakers, photograph vineyards and savor the flavors that make Napa Valley wines some of the most popular in the world.
Best wineries in Napa Valley
- Sterling Vineyards – this Mediterranean-style winery invites guests to sample wine while viewing Napa Valley from an aerial tram. Tickets for tram ride tours are $35 per person. Visitors under the age of 21 can take the tour for $20. Children under three are free.
- Newton Vineyard – as artsy as it is productive, this vineyard atop Spring Mountain in St. Helena features decadent gardens and vintage wines.
- Castello di Amorosa – considered the cream of the crop of vineyards in Napa Valley, Castello di Amorosa is a 13th-century-inspired winery with a castle! Tour the grounds to learn the wine legacy of the Sattui family and how they honor their Italian heritage through wine.
- Cuvaison Estate Wines – serving modern blends in a historic setting, Cuvaison Estate Wines offers wine tastings in the intimate Carneros Valley region, where guests can admire Milliken Peak while savoring some of the finest wines in the region.
- Chateau Montelena Winery – walk-ins are welcome at Chateau Montelena Winery in the foothills of Mount Saint Helena. Guests can enjoy “A Taste of Montelena” from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily inside a stone castle. The castle overlooks the vineyard, as well as a Chinese garden and lake area, which guests are free to explore.
Check In to Vino Bello Resort, Step Out to Napa
2. Wine Tasting Tours | Tuscany, Italy
Vineyards throughout Italy are known not only for their wines but also for their centuries-old heritage, and the wineries in Tuscany are some of the most historic. One of the easiest ways to see vineyards in Tuscany is to book a tour with Chianti Wine Tour in Florence, which offers day-long tours that are family-friendly and include a complimentary pickup from your hotel. Many guests to the area opt to get a bird’s-eye view of the region from a hot air balloon. Several companies offer hot air balloon rides, and tickets can be booked online. “Ballooning” is available year-round, but the best time to fly is between April and November.
Best vineyards in Tuscany
- Castello di Fonterutoli – steeped in history and culture, Castello di Fonterutoli introduces guests to fine Italian wines and the history of the Chianti region. The grounds of Castello di Fonterutoli contain five production areas and 73 vineyards, and guests can choose between wine tasting tours of Tenuta di Belguardo or Mazzei. The vineyard also is known for its olive oils, grappas and organic products made with handpicked, native lavender.
- Poderi Di Capo Duomo Estate – head to the lagoon in Grosseto to sample specialty wines grown on terraces stacked right next to the ocean. Poderi Di Capo Duomo Estate’s most notable blends are Africo and Maisto, named after the winds that blow along the Tuscan coast.
- Poggio al Casone – just outside Pisa is where wine connoisseurs will find specialty wines grown on a private estate. Guests can take a day tour or opt to spend the night in one of two exclusive cottages.
- Castellare di Castellina – distinguished by its climate, which tends to be a few degrees warmer than the rest of the region, Castellare di Castellina offers tours that highlight wine as much as the estate’s commitment to bio-diversity.
- Fontodi Winery – famous for its picturesque amphitheater shape, Fontodi Winery practices organic farming and offers some of the most affordable wines in Italy’s famed wine region. Guests can stay on the grounds or take a day tour to learn about the winery as well as the olive groves and cattle at the vineyard.
Check In to Plaza Hotel Lucchesi, Step Out to Tuscany
3. Wine Tasting Tours | Bordeaux, France
Stretching for more than 50 miles between the Dordogne and Garonne rivers, the Bordeaux wine region is one of the most renowned wine-producing areas in the world. Most of the wine produced in Bordeaux is red, but Sauternes, a sweet white, also is produced here. Médoc and Saint-Émilion are two of the most popular areas to tour, but Graves and Pauillac also draw their fair share of both experts and novices.
Best châteaus in Bordeaux
- Château Franc-Mayne, Saint-Émilion – guests to Château Franc-Mayne can sample local wines as well as tour underground caves. The estate offers five guesthouses for visitors who want to stay on the premises. One of the villas is a “tree cabin” perched in a cedar tree and featuring views over the vineyard.
- Château La Dominique, Saint-Émilion – lunch at La Terrasse Rouge is an essential feature of touring Château La Dominique. The rooftop restaurant offers incredible views of the estate, and experts will pair the perfect wines with a three-course meal.
- Château Gruaud Larose, Saint-Julien-Beychevelle – sophisticated and stylish, Château Gruaud Larose takes guests to a the heights of a tower before descending into underground cellars where the wine tasting ensues. Visitors also have the choice of adding cheese and chocolate to their wine tasting tours.
- Château Peyrabon, Pauillac – affordable and tasty Cabernet Sauvignon is what draws tourists to Château Peyrabon, which offers tours of the estate’s vineyards and wine cellars as well as incite to the wine-making process.
- Château Smith Haut Lafitte, Graves – Château Smith Haut Lafitte is known for its sophisticated wines and even more sophisticated vineyard, which features an open-air museum and hands-on workshops.
Check In to Hotel La Maison Bordeaux, Step Out to Bordeaux
4. Wine Tasting Tours | Yarra Valley, Australia
Loved for its charming landscape and the 80-plus wineries that occupy it, Yarra Valley makes for a wonderful daytrip from Melbourne. Guests to the region can pop from winery to winery sampling Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah and pairing their favorites with gourmet meals from local restaurants. Yarra Valley also is a popular place to mingle with some of Australia’s wildlife while strolling through local vineyards.
Best vineyards in Yarra Valley
- TarraWarra Estate – this contemporary winery features an art gallery and restaurant that serves locally-sourced foods as well as wine tastings for as little as $5 per person.
- Oakridge Wines – dine on locally-sourced produce while sipping award-winning wines at this contemporary winery that opened in 1978.
- Yering Farm Wines – a rustic estate featuring gorgeous views of Yarra Valley, Yering Farm Wines showcases their products through wine tasting tours, onsite picnics and fireside dinners on an open veranda.
- Domaine Chandon – a leader in sparkling wines and champagnes, Domaine Chandon invites guests to take self-guided tours of the vineyard and barrel halls, which feature interactive guides on the wine-making process.
- Yering Station Winery – groups of 10 or fewer are treated to complimentary wine tasting tours at Yering Station, one of the oldest and most scenic wineries in Yarra Valley.
Check In to Yering Gorge Cottages, Step Out to Yarra Valley
5. Wine Tasting Tours | Santorini, Greece
An island paradise in the Aegean Sea, Santorini is a prominent, yet not very well known, wine region with a long but somewhat secret history. The island’s wines have a unique taste because of the volcanic soils in the region, and local varieties can be sampled at the vineyards themselves or in hundreds of restaurants throughout Santorini. One of the most interesting wine tasting tours in Santorini is at ArtSpace, a contemporary art gallery built eight meters underground in the carved pumice rock of an old winery.
Best wineries in Santorini
- Gaia – situated on the seashore and featuring majestic sunset views, Gaia offers local red and white wines that can be sipped while lounging on a black sand beach.
- Gavalas Winery – nestled in the village of Megalochori, Gavalas Winery is famous locally for its Vinsanto variety. The wine has been designated the Best Dessert Wine in the World, and quantities are limited, so guests should be sure to request a sample when available.
- Estate Argyros – a breathtaking adventure in art and wine, Estate Argyros’ vineyard dates back to the 1850s and is one of the oldest in the region. The fourth-generation winery produces full-bodied reds and three selections of white wines.
- Koutsoyannopoulos Wine Museum – a winery and museum rolled into one, Koutsoyannopoulos Wine Museum dates to 1870, and guests can study the history of wine making and wine culture in Greece while sampling wines and touring the historic estate.
- Santo Wines – for a well-rounded sampling of Santorini wines, take a trip to Santo Wines on the west coast of the island at the edge of Faros Akrotiriou-Oias (Thiras Thesi Kalnteras), a park and wildlife refuge. The cooperative winery showcases high-quality, local wines produced through sustainable agriculture by producers in the Santorini region.