Aside from the fact that wine regions are popular with wine connoisseurs and enthusiasts, they are also some of the world's most popular vacation destinations. With their beautiful landscapes, rolling hills and delicious food, it's easy to see why these destinations are so popular. The top wine regions - France, Italy, United States and Spain - produce about half of all the world's wines. But they are certainly not the only ones worth visiting.
French wine is often considered some of the best in the world. The country is home to ten major regions, each with its own distinctive wines. For example, Languedoc produces the most wines and is also known for its medieval and Roman ruins. Burgundy is home to excellent Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays, as well as beautiful vineyards. Champagne is home to the iconic sparkling wine, which by law can only be called champagne if it is produced in this region, according to specific fermentation rules. Alsace is known for its picturesque towns and excellent white wines, while Bordeaux is famous for its red clarets of the same name. More excellent wine regions can be found in Corsica, the Loire Valley and Provence.
Italy has long competed with France as the top producer of wine. The country has even more wine regions, each with its own unique flavors and beautiful landscapes. One of the largest and most famous is Tuscany; a region full of medieval and Renaissance cities (such as Florence, Siena and Pisa). Tuscany is famous for its delicious food as well as its Chianti and Vin Sento. Campagnia, which consists of Naples and the Amalfi coast, has some excellent wines, including Falanghina and Aglianico.
Piedmont, in the northwest of the country, is known for its Barolo and Barbaresco wines. To the south is the Valle d'Aosta, between France and Switzerland, which is known for the Italian Alps and wines like Nebbiolo and Prié Banc. Prosecco is known for its sparkling white wines of the same name, which are often used as a cheaper substitute for champagne. The island of Sicily is known for its Marsala wine and its Nero d'Arola. And don't forget the wine regions of Abruzzo, Lombardy and Veneto.
Wine production of the United States is dominated by California, but in fact all 50 states have vineyards. The country is the fourth largest wine producing region in the world. Although the region has had a few difficult years with wildfires in California, they are surprisingly quickly and well scrambling to get back on their feet.
Napa Valley is the most famous wine region in the country and is located on the north coast of California. It is home to hundreds of vineyards and is known for its Pinot Noir and Shiraz. The nearby Sonoma region also offers beautiful scenery and is known for its Cabernet, Chardonnay and Shiraz. Virginia's wine history dates back to Thomas Jefferson, and the region is known for its Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Nebbiolo and Viognier.
Although Spain produces considerably less wine than neighboring Italy and France, it still has more than a million acres of vineyards. It is known for its rich and varied red wines and its crisp white wines, both of which are often more reasonably priced than those of its neighbors. Rioja has some of Spain's most famous wines coming from its three regions - Rioja Alta (oldest vineyards), Rioja Alavesa (old towns and hamlets) and Rioja Baja (dinosaur). They produce excellent blends of Tempranillo reds and Viura whites, as well as Garnache, Graciano and Mazuelo.
In the mountainous region of Priorat, you will find many terraced vineyards producing deep, full-bodied red wines, such as the red Garnacha Tinta, Garnacha Peluda, Cariñena, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah (Shiraz). Galicia is one of the most popular destinations, located near Portugal. This area is not only known for its religious pilgrimage routes, but has no less than 5 wine regions of its own. The coastal region of Rias Baixas (Albariño wines) and the hilly Ribeira Sarca (deep red wines such as Godello and Mencia) are the most famous of these.
Argentina is said to be the fifth largest wine region and continues to grow every year. This country has stunning landscapes and produces a range of truly unique wines. One of the most famous wine regions is Mendoza. In the foothills of the Andes. It produces a variety of wines, but is best known for its Malbec and traditional varieties such as Cereza and Criolla Grande.
San Juan is considerably hotter and drier than Mendoza and is known for its Syrah, Douce noir and fortified wines, such as sherry, cognac and vermouth. La Rioja was one of the earliest wine regions in the country and was cultivated by Spanish missionaries. It is known for its aromatic varieties of Moscatel de Alexandrias and Torrontés. Patagonia and the regions of Río Negro and Neuquén are known for their cooler climate and produce Pinot Noir, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Although the more well-known wine regions are found in the southern, cooler parts of Australia, wine is made in every state of the country. Australia is best known for its Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, but because of the vast differences in topography and climate, a much wider range of variations can be produced. The Barossa Valley near Adelaide in South Australia is known for its Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc and Reisling, while the Yarra Valley and the Victorian Alps are also known for their Cabernet , Grenache and Italian variations such as Sangiovese and Pinot Grigio.
Located near the Andes, Chile is the seventh largest producer of wines. The Atacama region in the north is known for its cognac-like Pisco, while the Aconcagua and Casablanca valleys are known for producing red Carménère and Shiraz, as well as Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. The Maipo Valley is one of the best-known wine regions in the country, located directly across the Andes from the Mendoza region of Argentina. It is known for its excellent Cabernet Sauvignon.
Although Germany is considered by most to be more of a beer country, the country produces excellent wines. Especially along the Rhine and its tributaries. Wine production dates back to ancient Roman times and some important regions include Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Baden, Württemberg and Rhein-Pfalz, also known as Palatinate. Germany is best known for its dry and sweet white wines such as Riesling and Liebfraumilch. Red wines are much less common, although you can find Spätburgunder (local name for Pinot Noir) and Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris).
About 6,500 years ago, the Greeks were making wine, making Greece one of the first wine-producing areas in Europe. The Aegean islands have some of the most famous wines, such as Assyrtiko from Santorini and Limnio (or Kalambaki) from Lemnos. Crete is known for its rich-tasting Kotsifali and Romeiko, while the Ionian Islands and the Peloponnese are known for the fruity Agiorgitiko, Mavrodaphne (a fortified dessert wine) and the citrusy Robiola and Roditis.
Hungary is said to be one of the oldest wine regions in the world. The famous Tokaj-Hegyalia region lies at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains and produces sweet dessert wines from local grapes such as Furmint, Zéta and Hárslevelű, collectively known as Tokaji. Another important region is Eger, known for its Chardonnay and red (blended) wine Egri Bikavér, which literally means "bull's blood of Eger."
Wine making in New Zealand dates back to the early 19th century. The largest region, Marlborough, is known for its Sauvignon Blanc, which accounts for nearly three-quarters of the country's total wine production. Another important region is Canterbury, which is home to the Waipara Valley known for its Pinot Noir. Central Otago in the south has some of the highest vineyards in the country and produces excellent Chardonnay and Pinot Gris, as well as Pinot Noir. The Wairarapa region near Wellington is also known for its Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Syrah.
Because Portugal has been home to hundreds of varieties since before the Roman Empire, it is an important destination for wine lovers. The country has 14 different wine regions that grow a wide range of grape varieties. The largest region is Alentejo, which is known for its cork production and its dry red wines (such as Tinta Roriz, Alicante Bouschet and Alfrocheiro).
The Douro Valley is a wine region protected by UNESCO and is known for its fortified Port wines, as well as non-fortified variations known as "Duoro Reds." Dão is one of the oldest established wine regions in Portugal and is known for its red wines made from Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz. Bairrada is another well-known region, producing Baga, Borrado das Moscas and Tinta Pinheira. Finally, in terms of wine, Portugal is known for its fortified Madeira de Moscatel.
South Africa is known for its excellent Chenin Blanc, especially in the areas around Cape Town, such as Franschhoek and Stellenbosch. These areas also produce well-known red wines, such as Cabernet, Merlot and Shiraz. The Hemel-en-Aarde Valley near Hermanus is one of South Africa's most beautiful wine regions and in its much cooler climate also produces Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Incidentally, South Africa is also currently the largest producer of cognac in the world.