This blog originated from my love of both travel and wine. I remember Mr. Spittoon and I sitting in our 1-bedroom unit in Sharjah (United Arab Emirates) in 2010 trying to come up with the perfect blog name and naturally right from the start we decided on Travelling Corkscrew.
I left NZ about 9 years ago now and have been on the road ever since. I truly believe the more you travel, the longer your travel bucket list gets. Mines continually growing and it’s probably no surprise my list involves many of the worlds wine growing regions.
I have been lucky enough to visit quite a number of the worlds wine regions (mostly while backpacking so with a daily budget of around $20 per day) so last week I decided I must put together a list of my favourite wine-producing regions to visit in the world plus a few extra which I’m still thirsty to get to.
I decided on a list of 15 regions since we are of course in 2015. Are there any regions that you think should definitely make the top 15 list? If so comment below and happy travels wine lovers!
1. Swan Valley, Western Australia
There’s no doubt that I had to include the Swan Valley. I’ve fallen mouth over glass for this region in Western Australia to the point Mr.Spittoon and I are currently building a house in the region. It’s the perfect spot for a wine lover like myself to live as it’s a mere 20 minutes to the Perth CBD. A wine region being that close to the city is virtually unheard of (except for the Vienna wine region in Austria). Read more here.
The region is easy to navigate, jam-packed with delicious wines which you’ll be hard pushed to see too many of outside of WA and a high percent of the wineries you’ll find are family owned.
2. Alentejo, Portugal
Uhhh Portugal, it’s unfortunate we didn’t get to spend time in the Alentejo wine region slightly south-east of the capital, Lisbon. On my recent trip to Timor Leste I did drink many wines from this region which were undoubtedly delicious. Typically you find a lot of hardy reds coming out of this region made from indigenous grape varieties.
3. Champagne, France
Being a dedicated Champagne girl I just had to visit the Champagne region while in France. We may have blown our budget since it was while we were backpacking but it was worth it!
The region is 1.5 hours by train out of Paris and the two main towns in the region are Reims and Epernay. We spent just the day in the region and managed to visit both towns (including eating our packed lunch in front of the beautiful Reims Cathedral) and organised appointments/tours at Achille Princier, Charles Mignon and Veuve Clicquot.
4. Porto, Portugal
Porto, the home of port wine is simply stunning in terms of scenery. Sitting on the banks of the Duoro River, it really takes your breath away.
The best thing about visiting Porto on our backpacker budget was that most tours and tastings at the port houses were free! So we spent a good couple of days walking around the port houses, learning all the history and hardly spending a cent! You can read all about my adventures at the Porto Port houses and staying at the Wine Hostel here.
5. Penedes, Spain
The home of Cava (Spanish Sparkling Wine). After 6 weeks working with Wine Pleasures and tasting over 70 different Cavas, how could I not enjoy this region!
It’s stunningly beautiful (I spent a lot of time cycling around), the people are laid back and friendly and you really do enjoy Cava for what it is as a standalone product (not the cheap younger sister of Champagne that people tend to assume). I do love Cava and I have done various posts on the topic from visiting 2 of the biggest cava houses; Freixenet and Codorniu, visiting Gramona winery, visiting Berdie winery, visiting one of the best hole-in-the-wall Cava bars in Barcelona, being a contributing editor for the 50 Greatest Cavas eBook in 2011 and more!
6. Eger, Hungry
Oh Eger, the Valley of the Beautiful Women aka the home of Bulls Blood wine. Haha and don’t take that literally! Deep rich wines being served out of cute little cellar doors dug into a several hundred-meter thick rolite tufa mountain. So unique and it really was one of those lifetime experience I’ll NEVER forget.
Glasses of wine are ridiculously cheap and you can also get takeaways for the train ride back to Budapest. Check out my post about my day in Eger here.
7. Tuscany, Italy
Pizza, pasta, wine, rolling hills and olive oil. You live the dream in Tuscany. The day out we spent visiting Azienda Agricola Montefioralle and Le Cantine di Greve in Chianti which were both absolutely amazing. We again went 5 times over budget but my god was it worth it, who cares about living off bread rolls and ham for 2 weeks after!
8. Lavaux, Switzerland
Who would have known that this gorgeous fairytale of a wine region existed. Looking back at the photos of the steep vineyards overlooking the Lake Geneva still take my breath away!
The best thing about travelling Europe’s wine regions on a backpackers budget is that you’re predominately on foot and even though your legs may ache and exhaustion sets in, you see and experience so much more! My advice to anyone going to Lavaux would be to walk around a lot and soak up all the beauty. Check out my full post on Lavaux and tasting notes here.
9. Napa Valley, USA
I haven’t been to the Napa, but I’ve drunk many good Cabs and Chardys from the region as well as selling many of the regions finest wines while working in Le Clos in Dubai. Plus if you haven’t already see Oz Clarke & James May’s Big Wine Adventure in the Napa Valley then you should make a point of watching it!
10. Heathcote, Victoria – Australia
Again, I haven’t been to the Heathcote region in Victoria, Australia but after receiving a case of Heathcote wines from my parents, I loved the place! Such awesome quality wines that I really want to get over there for a visit soon! Read my How I drank my way through the Heathcote Wine Region from the comfort of my couch post here.
11. Zagreb Country, Croatia
While backpacking, Mr. Spittoon and I really wanted to get to the wine regions just out of the capital city of Zagreb but the rainy weather made us stay in the city and of course we sniffed out the closest wine shop and literally spent all day at The House of Croatian Wines – Zagreb, Croatia!
12. Margaret River, Western Australia
Another Western Australia region I’ve fallen for. When I win lotto, there’s no doubt we’ll be buying a house or batch in this region.
World class wineries, amazingly friendly people and stunning scenery, how could it not make the top 15 list! Read more here.
13. Marlborough, New Zealand
I had to of course pop a Kiwi one on the list. I actually haven’t had a chance to explore this region properly, but from what I have seen it is stunningly beautiful and some of the best wines in the country call Marlborough home. I have stopped in at a few wineries in nearby Nelson which were a spectacular teaser.
14. Mallorca, Spain
Many people would not even know this wine region existed on the island of Mallorca off the coast of Barcelona. We visited on our backpacking trip and despite our accommodation earning the title of the worst placed we stayed at during our entire year of travels, the wineries still won by heart (and the wine helped us survive the shitty accommodation!). I guess what stood out to me the most visiting wine country in Mallorca was the people. They were sooo friendly, we felt like part of the family! It’s a unique spot, and definitely one you should check out in your lifetime. And a quick tip, pay that little bit extra for your hotel, it’ll be worth it! Read more here about visiting wineries in Mallorca.
15. Mapio Valley, Chile
Another one on my ‘I’ll get there someday’ list. The Mapio Valley is known as ‘little Bordeaux in the new world. It is an easily doable day trip out of the country’s capital, Santiago. The reason it’s known as the Bordeaux of South America is due to it’s most celebrated wine, Cabernet Sauvignon.