The Grape Escape: Top Wine Destinations for True Wine Lovers
A wine holiday is a bucket-list experience for any wine lover and over a quarter (26%) of US travelers* said they were likely to take a winery tour at some point in 2019*. So whether you know your Chardonnays from your Zinfandels or are a complete wine novice, there's no need to worry. Booking.com, the global leader in connecting travelers with the widest choice of incredible places to stay, has delved into its more than 28 million listings across more than 147,000 destinations across the globe and analyzed its over 175 million verified guest reviews to present seven beautiful destinations highly endorsed for vineyards and to the best places to stay for all varieties of wine lovers.
For the uninitiated, it’s an indisputable fact that vineyards and stunning landscapes go hand in hand. With that in mind, if you’re planning on visiting or staying close to a winery, why not take the scenic route and explore some of the surrounding areas by car?
After all, visiting wineries is less about drinking and more about sniff, sip, savor and spit - not to mention the experience of exploring the beautiful vineyards themselves. And with so many vineyards located far from the beaten track, they’re well used to seeing designated drivers keeping things safe on the road. Of course, if you’re staying locally, there’s nothing like sauntering back to the accommodation under your own steam at the end of a relaxing afternoon.
In these destinations, you can sample the local produce, learn what makes a top-quality vintage, and impress your guests at your next dinner party with some choice souvenirs from your new favorite vineyard.
Beaune was once at the bottom of a tropical sea, and the rich soil it left is the secret behind the flavor of Burgundy wines. For a real taste of what the region has to offer, visit the third weekend in November for Hospice de Beaune Wine Auction and the festival which takes place in the area.
Where to stay: Located in the historical town center of Beaune, Barbary Lane House Rental offers self-catering apartments with a fireplace and overlooks the inner courtyard dating back to the 17th century.
Stellenbosch, South Africa
Given that there are over 150 tasting rooms along the way, you definitely won't have a dull moment on the Stellenbosch Wine Route. Highly endorsed by Booking.com travelers for vineyards, wine, food and scenery, this beautiful destination hosts regular wine festivals and events.
World-renowned road trips on your doorstep!
When it comes to road trips, Stellenbosch opens up a world of opportunities, with the bustling metropolis of Cape Town only an hour’s drive away, and two of the world’s most famous road trips within easy reach:
Route 62 – desert surroundings and quaint towns line the 530-mile route from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth. With over 30 wineries on the way, Route 62 is widely credited as the longest wine route in the world. No surprise, as the climatic conditions of the region are perfect for growing grapes.
Close by Stellenbosch, you can make friends with alpacas at the Quenti Alpaca Mill and Alpaca Loom (both a half hour’s drive away). Or, for a more energetic experience, why not drive an hour for a chance to zip line through the magical mountains surrounding the Ceres Valley? They’re known by many as the ‘Switzerland of South Africa’.
For a vintage dining experience, check out Diesel and Crème, lauded as one of the best pit stops along Route 62 and famed for its milkshakes. It’d also be crazy not to stop, as it’s only 2.5-hour drive from Stellenbosch.
Garden Route – Similar to Route 62 in that it runs from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, but it takes in more of South Africa’s coastal towns and offers far more in the way of natural wildlife. Running along part of the N2 highway, it boasts several detours well worth investigating.
Less than an hour away from Stellenbosch is Gordan’s Bay, a Western Cape harbor town. If you’re after a quiet beach retreat with beautiful sunsets, this is the spot for you.
Two hours from Stellenbosch lies Hermanus, the whale-watching capital of South Africa (and arguably the world). Southern Right, Humpback and Bryde’s whales love to pay this particular part of the coast a visit between June and December.
Whatever you do, don’t let the scale of these road trips put you off: the grandeur is part of the charm. South Africa’s a big place, so take it easy - and take the time to get lost in the varied landscapes and stunning vistas flowing past the window.
Where to stay: Nestled amongst vineyards at the foot of Helderberg Mountain, near Stellenbosch, the Eikendal Lodge features lush gardens and a pool. Cucina di Giovanni Restaurant at Eikendal serves lunch and dinner in a wine cellar, which is a charming 15-minute walk (or 5-minute drive) from the main lodge.
Rüdesheim am Rhein, Germany
The picturesque town of Rüdesheim am Rhein, in the Rhine Valley, is a popular winemaking destination and home to the Rheingau Wine Museum, presenting a collection of exhibits from the ancient times until today.
Where to stay: Surrounded by the pretty streets of the Old Town, the family-run Breuer's Rüdesheimer Schloss is located within an 18th-century building in Rüdesheim. The hotel’s traditional restaurant offers a variety of wines from its own winery that can be tasted and purchased.
While Malbec originated in France, it's thrived in Mendoza's climate. It's no wonder that wine from this region is known for its lush fruitiness: the grapes in this region get to sunbathe for 300 days a year!
Where to stay: Featuring a homely atmosphere, Bed And Breakfast Plaza Italia is a small guest house is in a central location, just 985 feet from Rivadavia Street and Independence Square. It’s popular amongst Booking.com travelers who endorse Mendoza for vineyards, scenery and gourmet food. The property can also arrange various wine tasting tours for you.
Napa Valley, USA
Stretching out across endless green hills, Napa vineyards pride themselves on producing first-rate grapes. Wander through the endless vineyards and meet the people behind the wines while enjoying a relaxing holiday, even during the winter when you get to savor every last drop of your favorite wine away from the crowds.
Road trip your way around and get the best of both worlds
57% of US travelers* like to explore different locations while they’re on holiday. So one of the great things about renting a car in the Napa Valley is that it lets you experience two distinct landscapes within reasonable driving distance of each other.
Located just outside the town of Napa itself is the Skyline Wilderness Park to explore. Run by a non-profit organization and set in 850 acres of land, the park provides excellent hiking, biking and horseback trails for its visitors. If you’re lucky, on a clear day and in the right spot, you can even see the San Francisco skyline.
Speaking of San Francisco, it’s a mere hour’s drive from Napa by car. If this is your first visit to California, you’d be doing yourself a disservice by not spending a day or two in the city. Famous for its liberal laid-back vibe, and singularly popular with the Kerouac beatnik generation, San Francisco has a ton to offer no matter where your tastes lie. Foodies, don’t leave without sampling some seafood - clam chowder is a popular choice with locals as well as visitors to the city. Also, if you’re after a real culinary experience, make your way to Chinatown, the largest Chinatown in the world, not counting the ones in Asia!
Where to stay: Milliken Creek Inn is a luxury, adult only hotel in Napa Valley, situated within a 15-minute drive from Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Renteria Wines and Rocca Family Vineyards. A complimentary wine and cheese reception is available daily at the hotel’s main house.
Surrounded by numerous wineries of the Hunter Valley, a rural area of Pokobin is set in Australia’s oldest wine regions and is home to a great variety of accommodations and restaurants serving local wines and seasonal, gourmet food.
Where to stay: Set on 12 acres in Pokolbin in the Hunter Valley, Berenbell Vineyard Retreat offers self-contained accommodation with stunning views of the vineyard and the Brokenback Mountain Range. The property is just a short 5-minute walk from a number of restaurants and wineries.
*Research commissioned by Booking.com and independently conducted among a sample of 21,500 respondents, across 29 different markets (including 1000 respondents from Australia, Brazil, China, Columbia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, South Korea, Spain, the US, the UK, Russia, and 500 respondents from Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, In order to participate in this survey, respondents had to be 18 years of age or older, had to have travelled at least once in 2018, be planning at least one trip for 2018 and either the primary decision maker or involved in the decision making of their travel. The survey was taken online and took place in August 2018.