Great wine inevitably has a sense of
place, and is a product of both the natural environment and human culture
in which it is birthed. What better way is there to gain a deeper
appreciation of a region's wine than to visit the vineyards that produced
it? Fortunately, wine regions are often very accessible and open to
tourists, and one of my favourite occupations is to combine a holiday with
a visit to wine country. On the following pages you'll find my illustrated
accounts of trips that I have enjoyed to various wine regions, together
with tips on how to get the best from your own forays into wine country.
One of France's most picture-perfect wine regions, specializing in
aromatic white grape varieties. This was my first visit, and I was hooked.
revisited (March 2012)
South Africa's largest and most famous wine regiuon. I had overlooked it
on recent visits, so it was time to go back. I'm glad I did.
Swartland, South Africa (November 2011)
The Swartland Revolution is one of the world's top wine events, in my
opinion, at least. I visit this dynamic wine region to take in some
vineyards (September 2011)
My first visit to Russia takes me to the Black Sea Coast, where many of
Russia's vineyards are located. It's an eye-opening visit.
the Symingtons in the Douro, Portugal (September 2011)
The Symington family own some of the leading Port houses, including
Graham's, Warre's and Dow's. I take a visit to Vila Nova de Gaia and then
the Douro to get a feel for their work.
diversity of Chile
Chile's newer, cool-climate wine regions are attracting a lot of
interest. This, my second visit to the country, takes me from the Bío
Bío Valley in the south to the magical Elqui valley in the far north,
with lots of discoveries on the way
Spain (October 2010)
The most famous of Spain's wine regions, and well known for its oak-aged
reds. I visit a range of different wineries, from the small to very large.
New Zealand (February 2010)
Located near to the capital, Wellington, Martinborough is a small region
famous for its Pinot Noir, but also making really good Syrah (in tiny
quantities) and Sauvignon Blanc.
Otago, New Zealand (February 2010)
At the bottom of South Island, Central Otago is one of New Zealand's most
exciting wine regions, making great strides with Pinot Noir. It's a wild,
intense place to visit.
Africa revisited (November 2009 and October 2010)
Time to head back to the beautiful winelands of the western Cape, to see
the progress made by South Africa's leading producers. And two recent
trips have confirmed that there has been lots of progress.
Napa Valley (November 2009)
The USA's most famous wine region is in easy striking distance of San
Francisco, and it's well set up for wine tourism. I visit, and discover
that there's substance behind all the style - this is a great place for
growing wine grapes.
do Noval and the
Taylor group, Douro, Portugal (September 2009)
It's harvest time in the Douro, and I combine a trip to two different
producers: Quinta do Noval, and the Taylor group (visiting Taylor's,
Fonseca and Croft).
One of the world's great wine regions, a trip to Burgundy is a bit like a
pilgrimage. You just have to visit once in your life. On this trip I'm
lucky enough to get into some of the top domaines, and check out some of
the most famous vineyards.
wine regions (May 2009)
I'm on the Riesling trail, visiting Germany's top wine regions. This is
spectacular wine country: in particular, the ultra-steep Mosel vineyards
are one of the wonders of the world.
Verde, Portugal (November 2008)
Vinho Verde country, in the north of Portugal, is very pretty. This is
where crisp, mineral, slightly spritzy whites and incredibly vivid, fresh
red wines find their home.
Chianti Classico, the central portion of Tuscany's most famous region,
is an area of beautiful rolling hills, cypress trees, old farmhouses and
vineyards. I check out some of the leading producers, and witness the
With its rolling hills, Oregon has some beautiful wine country. Its
boutique, small-scale producers are getting quite a reputation for their
Pinot Noirs, which in many critics' eyes are the best outside Burgundy. I
visit the International Pinot Noir Celebration, and then head off to see
Argentina (March 2008)
Argentina is famous for its two 'M's - Meat and Malbec. Mendoza is its
leading region, and this is the destination for my first foray into
Argentine wine country, visiting some of the vineyards nestled into the
foothills of the Andes.
A long thin country bounded by the Andes on one side and the Pacific on
the other, Chile has probably improved more over the last decade or two
than any other wine nation. I visit to judge the Wines of Chile awards and
look around the wine regions.
Ultra-desirable travel destination New Zealand is a bit of a wine
tourist's paradise. Both north and south islands have beautiful vineyard
regions, and travelling around is a real doddle. I visited a range of
producers in four regions, ranging from the large to the tiny.
River, Western Australia (April
Western Australia's premier wine region may be a bit isolated, but
since its birth almost 40 years ago, it has developed a huge reputation
for top quality Cabernet and Chardonnay, as well as its distinctive
Semillon Sauvignon blends. And with beautiful beaches only ten minutes
away, it's an ideal destination for a holiday.
Yarra Valley (March 2006)
Since its rebirth in the 1970s, after wine production had stopped for 50
years, the Yarra has established a reputation as one of Australia's
premium cool-climate regions. I visited and was delighted to discover some
vineyards (January 2006)
Off the radar screens of most wine nuts, Switzerland is currently making
some really good wines in a diversity of styles. I spend some time in the
vineyards and taste with 25 of the leading producers.
Africa's winelands (December 2005)
A return to Cape Town gave me a chance to check out some of the new
wave of South African wines, as well as catching up with some of the more
dynamic favourites. You can find out how I got on here.
Alentejo, Portugal (June
In Portugal's new wine revolution, two regions are leading the pack by
some way. There's the Douro, which I've covered in depth elsewhere on this
site, and the Alentejo, the focus of this series. It's an open, sunny
land, with a vista of wheat fields, cork groves, and increasingly
vineyards, making some impressive wines.
It's no longer a secret that Austria makes some fantastic wines, both
white and red. In October 2004 I toured the Burgenland and Kamptal/Kremstal
regions, meeting some of the leading producers - here's my report.
New Barossa (September
2004, October 2005)
The historical heartland of the Australian wine industry, the Barossa saw
hard times in the 1980s when attention shifted to cooler-climate regions.
But now it's back, and a raft of young winemakers is revitalizing the wine
scene there: in this extensive series, based on two visits, I take a look
at what's going on.
Clare Valley (September 2004)
The Clare is a slightly sleepy, but beautiful small wine region in
South Australia. I take a look and discover some lovely wines.
The New Douro (May 2004)
Back in 2002, Jamie Goode first visited Portugal's spectacular Douro
region to report on the table wine revolution that was taking place. In
May 2004 he revisited the region, to delve deeper and see how progress was
going. Here's his in-depth, illustrated report.
Dão (May 2004)
The Northern Portuguese wine region of the Dão is a region currently
undergoing a transformation. Previously the preserve of thousands of
smallholders, new high quality producers are now making really interesting
red wines from grapes grown on primarily granitic soils, although rustic,
old-style wines are still common. Jamie Goode visits the leading players
in this enigmatic region.
Africa's winelands (February 2003)
The Cape winelands are becoming an increasingly popular tourist
destination. With the beautiful scenery, great wines and the relative
weakness of the Rand (making it a very cheap destination) it is not hard
to see why. This fully illustrated report begins with a review of the
Constantia wine route, and will later extend to Stellenbosch and Paarl.
Douro, Portugal (June 2002)
Famous as the home of Port, the Douro is now also an exciting source of
table wines. With its spectacular scenery and the recent emergence of some
exciting new producers, the Douro is pretty close to wine geek heaven.
This mammoth 12 part series, based on a five day trip in June 2002, charts
the progress of the Douro wine revolution.
Not a wine region, but the capital of southern Spain is the perfect place
for a city break, with its exciting, vibrant atmosphere and cultural
diversity. A great destination for tapas bar crawling, washing the food
down with crisp fino sherry.
New South Wales (March 2000)
A sleepy town just over the dividing range from its more illustrious
neighbour the Hunter Valley, Mudgee is on the up, now making some stunning
red wines. In this area, scene of a gold rush in the 1870s, wine is the
Hunter Valley (March 2000)
One of the historic wine growing areas of Australia, the Hunter Valley at
first glance seems ill-suited to producing fine wines: its too hot, and
harvest time is often disrupted by rain. But only two hours drive from
Sydney, it is a great place for some wine tourism, and I was pleasantly
surprised by some of the excellent wines that are being made here. This
illustrated report includes full details of visits to 12 of the leading
Peter May's Cape
Vineyard Tour, South Africa
Peter May, who runs the Pinotage Club (www.pinotage.org),
takes us on a guided tour through the Cape wine lands. In his illustrated
guide, he presents three potential routes, depending on the time you have
available. The wine anorak is proud to present this valuable resource for
anyone planning a wine trip to South Africa. See also: Cape
Town with kids, a guide for wine lovers with families.
Ever felt like touring wine country, but not sure how to do it? Tips
and advice for those planning to visit wine country for the first
France wine tour (September 1998)
Southern France offers some of the most diverse and scenic wine country,
and the added attraction of visiting domains from a UK perspective is that
you can bring back your purchases easily and cheaply (although if you
travel in the summer you run the very real risk of having your wine baked
on route: beware!). This tour took in the regions of the Northern and
Southern Rhone, the Languedoc, the Roussillon and Provence.
Switzerland (July 1999)
In the UK wines from just about every wine producing nation are readily
available, but we don't often see wines from Switzerland. As a
consequence, it's quite easy to forget that Switzerland produces quite a
lot of usually high quality wines. We took a trip to some of the scenic
vineyards on the slopes of Lac Leman, an easy drive out from Geneva, to
find out more.
Santa Ynez and Sonoma (September 1997)
California makes an ideal location for those wishing to combine a touring
holiday with visits to wineries. As well as sampling some of this states
stunning and diverse natural beauty, we managed to get a flavour of two of
the more interesting wine regions, Santa Ynez (near Santa Barbara) and
Sonoma (which has often lived in the shadow of its more glitzy neighbour,
Valley South Australia
My first *ever* visit to wine country was to the Barossa, in South
Australia. Along with the Hunter Valley, the Barossa is one of the two
historical heartlands of Australian wine, and over the last decade or so
has itself undergone a mini-revival, as the world has taken notice of the
deep, generous, concentrated wines this region produces, often from
unfeasibly old, low-yielding vines. It's also a wonderfully friendly and
easy region to visit. I'd just love to go back again.
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