Do you have a bucket list of wine vacations? They say wine is a passport to the world, one sip and you can taste the history, the soil, the time, and care of method of a region. But if you’re keen to use a real passport to take your wine tasting adventures further afield, visiting a wine region is a great way to do it.
Not only will you get a feel for the culture accompanying your favourite wines, but the food and history that go along with it, and, of course, the chance to bring back the ultimate souvenir.
We’ve rounded up 5 bucket list wine vacations any oenophile is bound to enjoy.
1. Croatia: Dive for Wine in a Shipwreck
Best for: The History Lover
As well as its rich history and turquoise beaches, a trip along Croatia’s coast, either by car or by chartering a boat, can help you to discover its unique vineyards and heritage sites. For a one-of-a-kind wine experience, head to Pelješac Peninsula, a long stretch of land jutting out into the Adriatic to dive and retrieve wine from a shipwreck.
Inspired by the Ancient Greek practice of storing wine under the sea in amphora clay jars, wine from plavac mali, a Croatian red grape, is poured into traditional glass bottles and then placed in amphora jars before being immersed into the depths of the Adriatic for one to two years. The dark and constantly cool conditions of the sea enhance the wine’s fermentation process, resulting in a more aromatic wine. After diving to retrieve your bounty, you can head to the picturesque vineyards to learn more about this ancient practice and enjoy your bottle over the sunset.
2. Italy: Cycling and Spa in Umbria
Best for: The Relaxation Seeker
A cycling tour through some of Italy’s most picturesque Umbrian landscapes is the perfect place to drink in the culture, architecture of ancient Roman towns, olive groves, and, of course, wine from the ever-reaching vineyards. Cycle from one vineyard to the next sampling the local wines, eating Italian delicacies and chatting with master winemakers.
When the day is done, take the opportunity to top off your relaxation in a first-century Roman bathhouse specialising in vinotherapy. Le Tre Vaselle spa is famous for using the antioxidant properties of grapes and their leaves in its therapeutic treatments. From a wine bath to a wine nectar four hands massage to a grape seed oil facial, every treatment uses the power of grapes to relax and restore, so you’ll be ready for more wine tasting the next day.
3. South Africa: Shark Diving and Wine Tasting
Best For: The Thrill Seeker
South Africa is a great destination for outdoor adventurers and adrenaline junkies. Whether it’s bungee jumping, kayaking through rapids, or hot air ballooning, the country has a diverse array of activities to keep even the most hardened thrill seeker entertained.
Wine lovers who like to venture on the wild side should take advantage of one of South Africa’s most memorable attractions: shark diving. Spend the morning submerged in a cage watching sharks hunt, before sampling wine from the picturesque Constantia Valley and Stellenbosch regions that helped to put South African wines on the map.
4. France: 26 Miles of Vineyards
Best For: The Active Connoisseur
Each year the Marathon du Medoc takes participants on a 26.2-mile marathon run through 59 breathtaking vineyards in the Medoc region of Bordeaux. If you love to sample fine wine while keeping your fitness in check, this is certainly one way to do it.
The race course follows the region’s famous wineries including Château Lafite Rothschild, Château Mouton Rothschild, Lynch-Bages, Pichon Longueville, and Beychevelle among others. The jubilant atmosphere is further enhanced as each year the marathon has a theme with many participants dressing up accordingly. When the race is done and you’ve recovered, you can reward your efforts with your pick of the wines and perhaps celebrate a new personal best.
5. Australia: Make your own Blend in Barossa Valley
Best for: The Wanna-Be Winemaker
If spending your mornings discovering pristine beaches, afternoons in Australia’s wineries tasting wine and encountering a marsupial or two sounds like the ideal getaway, then look no further than Barossa Valley.
As well as an area famous for its Shiraz, many of the region’s wineries invite you to blend your very own wine. If you’ve always fancied yourself as a master blender or would like to create the perfect wine for your palate, choose from a number of varietals, combine them to your desired tastes and take home your own custom bottle.It’s the perfect way to discover the art form of balancing a wine’s flavour and the skills it takes to bring together different grapes.