There is nothing like sipping on a glass of wine to unwind at the end of a busy day. It’s relaxing and it’s full of antioxidants. As more Canadians are immersing themselves in wine culture, they are becoming more inclined to book a vacation around their favourite wine, so they can visit world-class vineyards and sample their favourite wine first-hand.
“There’s nothing quite as enchanting as a vacation in one of the world’s great wine regions, where stunningly beautiful vineyards serve as the perfect backdrop for tasting some of the best vintages available. And while more and more wine destinations seem to sprout up every year, some places will always set the standard for wine lovers,” says Alexis Korman in Fodor's Travel.
Beautiful vineyards, gorgeous landscapes and world-class wine are the essential components of a great trip for a wine lover. To help you plan a great wine tour vacation, here’s a list of some of the top North American and international destinations that are known for their wine culture.
North American winery destinations
1. Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
A staple of Ontario wine culture, Niagara-on-the-Lake is the perfect local choice for a wine lover’s retreat. It’s within driving distance from Toronto, it is home to more than 20 wineries and it offers historic bed and breakfasts, private vacation homes and five-star hotels. The area is also known for its local events – many of which are wine-related: shopping and an abundance of great restaurants and pubs. It’s perfect for a weekend getaway, a stop during a road trip or a relaxing quiet vacation.
2. Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
With 131 wineries and more than 8,000 acres of vineyards, Okanagan Valley is one of the largest wine regions in North America. Since it’s known for having a broad range of wines, it’s the perfect place to visit, regardless of the type of wine you prefer to drink. Many wineries in the area have opened restaurants, allowing you to book a tasting and a meal. There is also a wide range of accommodations for all budgets, and you will have no trouble finding activities to fill up your travel itinerary.
3. Napa Valley, California
Perhaps the most famous wine region in North America, Napa Valley is a must-see if you make the trip to California. “A trip to California wine country is made unforgettable by not only the life-changing Cabernet, but also the intoxicating natural setting,” says U.S. News Travel. The region is a vacation hotspot for its wineries, but its beautiful hillsides, coastal drives and top-class accommodations should also not be missed.
4. Sonoma Valley, California
If you are looking for an alternative to Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley is close by. While it doesn’t have the cachet of Napa, it offers just as many great wineries to explore. “Often overlooked in favor of neighboring Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley boasts an equally impressive landscape and a collection of vineyards. And with top-tier restaurants and hotels nearby, you'll be hard-pressed to find a reason to leave,” says U.S. News Travel. It has more than 400 wineries and is only a one-hour drive from San Francisco.
5. Willamette Valley, Oregon
Oregon may not be a place you think of when you consider wine vacation destinations, but it is known for having world-class pinot noirs and chardonnays. You will need to rent a car to drive around the region, but it is well worth it. “Some of the most exemplary vintners in the region include Adelsheim (with its sweeping views of the Chehalem Mountains), Penner-Ash Wine Cellars (boasting concerts series and food trucks), and Bergström (which practices biodynamic winemaking),” says Fodor’s Travel.
International wine travel destinations
6. Tuscany, Italy
Italy is one of the best wine-producing countries in the world, and some of the best wine in the world is produced in Tuscany. Known for its serene countryside and the slow-paced lifestyle of its locals, it’s the perfect place to relax and enjoy a glass of vino. “The combination of castles-turned-wineries-turned-hotels, elegant cypress trees, cascading hills and sprawling vineyards is simply heavenly,” says U.S. News Travel.
7. Rhône Valley, France
Perhaps the most diverse, Rhône Valley is the second-largest wine region in France. Known for its beautiful villages and 13 wine trails, the region spans about 240 km. “Many villages have a Maison des Vins (wine house) offering free tastings. The Caveau du Gigondas is open daily and offers 120 wines from 75 producers,” says Louise Hurren in the Wine Enthusiast. There are also many unique accommodation options and culinary workshops in the region.
8. Piedmont, Italy
This region of Italy has it all: scenic hilltop escapes, world-class accommodations and spas, and many places to stop in for a great glass of wine. The second-largest wine region in Italy, it borders Switzerland and France, which gives you an opportunity to explore.
Whether you are planning to visit a local winery or are travelling across the world to have a glass of your favourite wine, you will enjoy it that much more if you know you have travel insurance. Get travel insurance for your wine vacation!