Top 5 European Wine Regions To Visit
There is a lot to like about combining a summer holiday with one of these top European Wine Regions to visit. The warm weather, lush flowing vines, freshly prepared food and not to forget a few glasses of wine direct from the cellar. Now that Covid is predominantly a thing of the past, (fingers crossed), and travel is back on the agenda, you could be forgiven for dreaming up your next overseas holiday.
If you like your wine and looking for a few ideas on the best European wine regions to visit then look no further. We travel the world looking for family run vineyards to work with and have compiled out Top 5 European Wine Regions to visit in 2023. Each one of these would be a perfect trip for any oenophile. You’re sure to find a whole heap of friendly faces and delicious wines, in some of the most stunning scenery you could ever hope to imagine. Without a doubt, each one of these top European wine regions to visit will be a dream destination for those who love a glass or two of the good stuff.
In this article we give you inside tips on the following top European Wine Regions to visit:
European Wine Regions To Visit – Rioja Wine Region
Located in northern Spain, it is hard to knock back an opportunity to visit this amazing one of our top European wine regions to visit. There is a lot to like, including Rioja’s proximity to the ocean, its accessibility from Madrid and Barcelona, the stunning vineyards and of course Rioja wine.
The Grapes of Rioja
The Rioja wine region produces two primary grape varieties. One is Tempranillo which is used in 95% of Rioja red wines. Tempranillo has flavours of cherry, plum, raspberry and when it is fermented in oak barrels will also produce secondary notes of vanilla, leather and sweet spices. The dominant white grape grown in the Rioja wine region is Viura, or Macabeo.
How To Get To The Rioja Wine Region
The Rioja wine region is close to 3 international airports so getting to Rioja is relatively easy from other European countries. The closest international airport to Rioja is Bilbao. From San Sebastian it is about an hour and a half drive to Rioja. Other major Airports with good international connections are Barcelona and Madrid, which are 5 and 3 hours by car away respectively.
Where To Stay In Rioja
Laguardia is the best town to stay in whilst visiting the Rioja wine region as it is more authentic and a little rustic. Another option is Logrono, which is a bit bigger and 325 miles north west of Barcelona or 90 miles south of San Sebastian. We recommend staying in village of Laguardia at Villa De Laguardia. It is situated on the top of a hill which has a great view of the surrounding vineyards and landscape.
Top Vineyards To Visit Rioja
When you visit the Rioja wine region there are 4 vineyards you must visit. These are:
A visit to these Rioja wineries will not disappoint. The quality of their wines are amongst the best in the world and will treat you to a real wine experience. It is no wonder that Rioja is rates as one of the best European wine regions to visit.
European Wine Regions To Visit – Piedmont Wine Region
The Piedmont wine region in Italy is probably one of our favourite European wine regions to visit. There is a lot of variety when it comes to the style of wines produced in Piedmont and the quality is second to none. The rolling hills running off into the distance, truffle hunting experiences and lip smacking array of wines is enough to get most people very excited.
The Grapes Of Piedmont
One of the best things about the Piedmont wine region, is the number of different grapes which can be grown. White wine grapes include Cortese which is used to produce Gavi, Chardonnay and Arneis. They also product a little bit of Muscat which will be used to make sparkling wines, Asti Spumante and Moscato d’Asti. Red grapes include Nebbiolo, used to produce Barolo, Barbera and Dolcetto.
How To Get To The Piedmont Wine Region
The two main towns which you can consider flying into for your stay in the Piedmont wine region are Turin and to a lesser degree Asti. Turin has a population of 900,000 people so is well equipped with public transportation, restaurants and hotel options. The distance between Turin and Asti is 45 minutes by car or train with both being well located to the vineyards in the northern Italian wine region. Asti only has a population of 80,000 people so will be a little more remote. Not that it’s a good or a bad thing, it just depends on what you are after.
Another option to visit the Piedmont wine region is to fly into Genoa on the Italian coast and then join a tour to take you up into Langhe, Alba, Asti, Gavi and Barolo are which are sub regions within Piedmont.
TOP VINEYARDS TO VISIT IN PIEDMONT
From high end aged Barolo to Gavi and sparkling Spumante wines, Piedmont has a so many high quality vineyards. Here are a handful of recommended Piedmont vineyards to put on your ‘European Wine Regions To Visit‘ list:
European Wine Regions To Visit – Alsace Wine Region
Next on our list of top European wine regions to visit is Alsace. The Alsace wine region in France is one, as a wine lover, you must visit. The Route Da Vin is a wine tasting. Due to its close proximity to Germany, the Alsace wine region architecture and cuisine is heavily influenced by their German neighbours. Alsace is different to other French wine regions in that they only have independent, family run vineyards. You’ll get a chance to meet the winemakers on their home turf which is part of what makes this such an appealing European wine regions to visit. You’ll likely get some world class Grand Cru wines and Crémant as well.
The Grapes OF Alsace
Alsace produces mostly white wine grapes with the exception of Pinot Noir. If you like floral and fruity white wines then Alsace will be your best friend. The white wine grapes you can expect to find in Alsace are Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Muscat, Sylvaner and Gewürztraminer. The red wine grape is Pinot Noir.
How To Get To The Alsace Wine Region
In terms of accessibility, Alsace is one of the most central European wine regions to visit. The closest main city where you can fly into from most European countries is Strasbourg, situated at the northern point of the Alsace wine region. The best place to stay would be Colmar which is 50 minutes south of Strasbourg by car along the A-35. You can catch a train direct to Colmar from Strasbourg easily with the journey time being 35 minutes.
Colmar is a really good place to base yourself out of as its in the heart of the Alsace wine region and has cultural experiences on offer in the city. In terms of visiting the vineyards in Alsace, we recommend you buy a ticket for the Kutzig ‘hop on, hop off’ style bus which will take you along the Alsace wine route. Tickets are €17 per person at the time of writing this and the best way to experience this amazing European wine region. You read about it and book your ticket direct here.
Top VINEYARDS TO VISIT IN ALSACE
When visiting Alsace you are spoilt in the sense there is so much high quality wine to discover. Most of the vineyards are owned and run by families who have passed the land down through generations. We import from 5 different organic vineyards in Alsace and would recommend you stop by for a visit. Mention Savage Vines to the owners and you may even get the red carpet treatment! Here they are:
The Alsace is truly one of the best European wine regions to visit for white wine lovers.
European Wine Regions To Visit – Champagne Region
The Champagne region is one for your bucket list. We recommend all wine lovers travel to Champagne at some point in their life. It is likely one every wine lovers list of European wine regions to visit. Not only will you discover boutique Champagne producers, it will open your eyes into how the industry works and get an understanding of the Champagne production process. Some of the Champagne Houses are also stunning.
The Grapes Of Champagne
The grapes which winemakers are allowed to grow are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. It is these three grapes which are used to produce Champagne. These ‘Champagne Grapes’ do not all have to be used but are often blended. Interestingly enough both Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier are both red wine grapes, however 95% of the Champagne you see are sparkling white wines. This is due to the skins of the Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier being pressed off the free run juice before they get a change to impart their colour on the Champagne.
How To GET TO The Champagne Wine Region
There are two main towns which you can base yourself in when visiting the Champagne Region. They are Reims and Epernay. From Paris, you can travel to both Reims & Epernay by train which will take 1 hour and 20 minutes. There are some faster trains which will get you to Reims in 40 minutes, but they are less frequent and cost a little more. You can book direct with SNCF who are a reputable train operator in France here.
We recommend you hire a car to get around the Champagne Region once you are there. The roads are well maintained and there is not much traffic. Although the Champagne region is not that big, you will want to explore the surrounds and it makes it easier getting between the Champagne houses. Sixt is a reputable car hire company in Reims. You can browse the Sixt website here.
TOP CHAMPAGNE HOUSES TO VISIT
We recommend you visit a mix of power house global Champagne brands and smaller, boutique producers. This will give you eye opening insight into the history of some of these brands we know and love like Moet & Chandon, Ruinart and Veuve Clicquot. The smaller growers and producers will give you an authentic Champagne experience and an opportunity to buy some Champagne at very attractive prices which is both unique and made in small quantities.
The six Champagne houses we recommend you visit on your trip to the Champagne region are:
European Wine Regions To Visit – Douro Valley Wine Region
The Douro Valley needs to be on your European Wine Regions To Visit list for 2023. Portugal offers some of the best value for money wines in the world making it one of the top European wine regions to visit. The Atlantic ocean meets the mouth of the Douro river which soon flows past the Port caves of Porto. From here you can take a magical journey down the Douro River by boat or train, exploring the enticing world of Portuguese wine.
One particular reason this makes it onto our list of European wine regions to visit is for the Port. This is the native drink of Portugal and the Douro Region is actually the world’s first wine region and a UNESCO heritage site. So, not only it is one of the best European wine regions to visit, it was also one of the first European wine regions to visit.
The Grapes Of The Douro Valley
Portugal is a little different to the rest of European Wine regions to visit in that they have a lot of indigenous grapes. Wine drinkers are less familiar with Portuguese wine grapes but this should not deter you. Commonly grown grapes in the Douro Valley wine region include white wine grapes such as Alvarinho, Arinto, Loureiro and Trajadura. Portuguese red wine is commonly made from Jaen, Aragonez, Tinta Barroca, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz and Touriga Nacional.
Vinho Verde is a region north of Douro and style of white Portuguese wine which is lower in alcohol (~10% abv) and has a slight effervescence. Vinho Verde has become very popular over the last 10 years due to its price point and quality. The low alcohol content makes Vinho Verde an appealing wine to have over lunch in the summer.
HOW TO GET TO THE DOURO VALLEY WINE REGIon
The Douro Valley wine region is conveniently located in close proximity to the town of Porto in the north of Portugal. We recommend getting a flight to Porto and booking a hotel for a few nights. Here you can explore the town by bike and visit a few of the famous Port caves which are positioned on the banks of the river opposite the main town. From here you can explore the Douro Valley by train, boat or organised bus tour.
TOP VINEYARDS TO VISIT IN THE DOURO VALLEY
We recommend a few days in Porto to explore the Port caves and city then join a boat tour down the Douro River where you can visit some of the vineyard. Here are a few Port houses and vineyards we recommend you visit:
That’s our list of top European wine regions to visit! Don’t delay and get your next holiday sorted.
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