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The World’s Top 10 Wine Destinations for 2024

Wine tasting is supposed to be fun, and after another year of negative sales data bruising the industry’s spirit, it’s time for a jolt of energy and a refreshed perspective. Take this year to reframe the meaning of wine travel and embrace its playful and adventurous side.

That could involve replacing endless sipping and spitting in stuffy tasting rooms with boat rides on Italian lakes, whale watching off of the western coast of Australia, or taking surf lessons on the island of Madeira.

Wine travel can also mean diving into a city’s bar and restaurant scene to discover smaller producers that don’t have tasting rooms — so why not try new wines on a rooftop in La Paz, Bolivia, go wine bar hopping in Mallorca, or learn how to shuck oysters on the sunny shores of Long Island?

From the rolling green hills of Slovenia to the high altitude slopes of Savoie, here are the top 10 wine destinations — and experiences — for 2024.

10. La Paz, Bolivia

Credit: Knöpfli – / Thais Fenalti on Facebook

Bolivian wine? Yes, it’s a thing. And it shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the country’s proximity to winemaking powerhouses Chile and Argentina. The city of La Paz isn’t necessarily the country’s shining star wine region, but the capital serves as an ideal home base for exploring Bolivia’s stellar culinary offerings and vibrant bar and restaurant scene. It also sits at an elevation of about 12,000 feet, and as the highest capital city in the world, it’s important to be aware of the altitude change. Tackle it as the locals do with a helpful cup of mate de coca (coca tea).

Similar to Uruguay, Bolivia’s primary red grape is the bold and tannic Tannat, which originated in the south of France. Meanwhile, the white wines are typically on the aromatic side, with popular varieties including Muscat of Alexandria, Torrontes, and Riesling. The country’s major wine region, Tarija, is about a four-hour drive from La Paz, and venturing out to this area to visit producers like Campos de Solana makes for a great day trip. Alternatively, book a tour to see Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat, with a curated lunch and local wine pairings.

The best — and easiest — way to dive into Bolivian wines is to hit La Paz’s booming restaurant scene. A must-visit is Gustu, a high-end spot founded by Noma co-founder Claus Meyer. Other destinations include the Popular Cocina Boliviana restaurant, and Hay Pan wine bar, which features pours from smaller producers. The rooftop bar at the Atix Hotel, 591 Bar, also has a wide wine selection and stunning views. Make sure to sample some local singani as well, a type of brandy regarded as Bolivia’s national drink.

9. Mallorca, Spain

Credit: Eugene Zhyvchik via Unsplash / Mesquida Mora

While Mallorca has always been a destination for beautiful beaches and vibrant nightlife, the idyllic island off the coast of Spain also has a burgeoning wine scene. For East Coasters, it’s never been easier to get to, either, after United Airlines last year announced a nonstop route between Newark and Palma, Mallorca, that runs from the end of May through September.

Start the trip in Palma, Mallorca’s largest city, to experience the area’s renowned dining scene at restaurants like Quina Creu, Stagier Bar, Aromata, and Michelin-starred Adrián Quetglas. Become acquainted with the region’s small wineries at the city’s best wine bars, like Cav, and enjoy traditional vermouth and tapas at popular spots like La Rosa Vermutería & Colmado.

It’s still relatively easy to get around the island, which is the largest of the Balearics, so stay in any of the stunning seaside resorts and B&Bs scattered along the shores and rent a car or book a tour to get to the wineries. Schedule a tasting at Mallorca’s oldest winery, Bodegas Ribas, or visit the biodynamic Mesquida Mora winery for a tour of the vineyards and to try unique local varieties like Gorgollassa, Giró, and Premsal.

8. Margaret River, Australia

Credit: Ryan Chrondro via Unsplash / Leeuwin Estate

After a hectic few years of crowded post-pandemic travel, why not head to the most geographically isolated wine region on earth? Located in Western Australia about a three-hour drive south from the region’s main city of Perth, Margaret River is not for the travel-averse. But for those interested in far-flung wine adventures, there’s no better destination.

Renowned for its premium Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, the region’s landscape is frequently compared to that of Bordeaux — if France had hoards of kangaroos and humpback whales — with sandy pine forests and a maritime climate from the ocean influence.

In terms of winery visits, start at Leeuwin Estate, one of the founding five wineries of the region known for its prestigious “Art Series” wines. The property even has a museum that features all the works of art that have graced past labels. Then check out Woodlands, another historic winery that offers complimentary tastings and a wide selection of cheeses to accompany the bold red blends and creamy Chardonnays. Drinkers looking for wines that color outside the lines can check out up-and-coming producers like Grant & Co on the cool-climate southern tip of Margaret River. Like Leeuwin Estate, many also have great restaurants to visit after the tastings, including Cullen Wines and Vasse Felix.

Make sure to soak in the region’s stunning nature with the Cape to Cape hike along the coast (keep an eye out for breaching whales). Then stay at the serene Cape Lodge, which comes equipped with an on-site vineyard and winery, or take in the ocean views at the Injidup Spa Retreat.

7. Savoie, France

Credit: Arnaud Mariat via Unsplash / Celine Jacquet on Instagram

Interested in experiencing the Alps but not so interested in skiing? Visiting alpine regions like Savoie in the warmer months is a great way to avoid the crowds and try different activities like hiking, biking, and, of course, winery hopping.

Wine lovers have fallen for Savoie’s crisp, high-elevation wines in recent years, and there’s no better way to learn more about the region than in person. Savoie offers a distinct set of local grapes that are uniquely acclimated to the area’s cool-climate and mountainous terroir, known for expressing an alpine freshness. The primary white grapes are Jacquère and Altesse (known traditionally as Roussette). And though the region is dominated by whites, the native red variety Mondeuse is also well regarded for its aromatic bouquet, hints of black pepper, and intense structure. Set up a few winery visits with producers like Domaine Céline Jacquet or Cellier de la Baraterie to fully experience what the region has to offer.

As always, restaurants are another great way to discover local wines, and maybe even more importantly in this region, local cheeses. Make a reservation at Restaurant à la Chambotte for panoramic views over the Lac du Bourget or duck into a small spot like La Fine Bouche to experience the traditional fondue culture. And it’s hard to go wrong with accommodations: Whether staying in a charming chalet-style spot like Auberge du Bois Prin or a more extravagant property like the Hôtel L’Incomparable, visitors will generally be greeted with a stunning mountain view.

6. The North Fork, Long Island

Credit: Adel Gavish via Unsplash / Bedell Cellars

Whether escaping New York City for a quick day trip or planning a full-on long weekend getaway, heading out east to the end of Long Island is always a good idea. While the Hamptons draw crowds for the surf and high-end shops, the North Fork is ideal for wine tastings and local fare.

Sometimes the region gets a bad rap as the backdrop for boozy bachelorette parties, but there are forward-thinking winemakers showing Long Island wine’s true potential. We suggest Bedell Cellars, a sustainability pioneer in the region with delicious examples of the expected wines from the North Fork (Cabernet Franc and Merlot), as well as unexpected varieties (Melon de Bourgogne and Albariño). Don’t miss Bedell’s experimental, small-batch sister winery, Corey Creek, which frequently hosts live music and events. Other stand-out producers include Suhru Wines, Macari Vineyards, and Sparkling Pointe.

About 20 minutes from most of the wineries sits the charming waterfront town of Greenport. Dive into local seafood at Little Creek Oyster Market or appease the beer lover in your group with a trip to Greenport Harbor Brewing Company. Follow that up with dinner at an esteemed farm-to-table restaurant, such as the Nork Fork Table & Inn. If cocktails sound more appealing, check out the speakeasy-style Brix & Rye for both classic and creative concoctions. Multiple lodging options drive home the beachy vibes, including the retro Silver Sands Motel and Beach Bungalows or relaxing seaside Sound View or Menhaden.

5. Madeira, Portugal

Credit: Tim Roosjen via Unsplash / H.M. Borges

Portugal has been a trendy destination for several years, but look beyond Lisbon and Porto — and even the Setúbal Peninsula — to the island of Madeira. The region’s historic fortified wines and distinct topography make it both a beautiful spot for hiking and beach-going as well as wine tasting.

The coastal town of Funchal is the largest, filled with tasting rooms and restaurants, as well as historic wine houses where you can learn about the island’s unique winemaking heritage. Start at the traditional H.M. Borges, which is one of only two wineries in Funchal that produce wine on-site. Then head to the family-owned Pereira d’Oliveira to taste through a stunning catalog of vintages that dates all the way back to 1850. Blandy’s Wine Lodge is another great stop for guided tours and tastings.

After a day of tasting, grab a bite at casual spots like Casal da Penha and Vila do Peixe or make a reservation at one of chef Julio Pereira’s esteemed fine-dining restaurants, Ákua and Kampo. For non-wine activities, venture out of the city to take advantage of the island’s natural wonders. The iconic Pico to Pico hike offers scenic mountaintop views and showcases Madeira’s impressive landscapes. For more of a beach vibe, check out the town of Machico or book a surf lesson with Madeira New Wave in Porto Da Cruz.

4. Southern England, U.K.

Credit: Ben Collins via Unsplash / Balfour Hush Heath Estate

The English Sparkling category has seen remarkable growth over the past few years. In 2022, the Wines of Great Britain association reported that the number of hectares planted in the U.K. has more than doubled in the past eight years and more than quadrupled since 2000. The area has benefitted from frequent comparisons to Champagne and investments from big maisons, but English Sparkling is its own unique category.

The country’s primary winemaking areas, Kent and Sussex, are located in the southeast and known for their cool climate, and chalk and limestone soils that make them well-suited for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The wines are primarily made in the Champagne method, but some producers are starting to experiment with other styles. Luckily Kent and Sussex are only about 50 miles away from each other, so it’s easy to visit both in one trip.

Kent is home to both renowned wineries and sights to visit. Book a vineyard tour, tasting, and lunch at Balfour’s iconic Hush Heath Estate, then visit the nearby Leeds Castle or venture to the scenic town of Canterbury. Farther south, Gusbourne Estate and Chapel Down both offer lovely tours and tastings. From there it’s only a 45-minute drive to the coast to visit the White Cliffs of Dover, while a stay at the Woolpack Hotel in Tenterden really captures the quaint countryside aesthetic.

In Sussex, the Nyetimber winery is central to the region’s history and the more modern Digby Fine English is also known for pushing the English Sparkling category forward, applying the negoçiant model to English sparkling wine. For something different, Tillingham winery in East Sussex is one of the U.K.’s leading natural wine producers, offering a lineup of pét-nats, rosé, and field blends. Stay at the castle-like South Lodge in Horsham for extravagant lodging and a fine-dining experience at its modern restaurant The Pass or the nearby restaurant Interlude.

3. Sonoma, Calif.

Credit: Trent Erwin via Unsplash / Hirsch Vineyards

Visiting Sonoma to taste wine isn’t exactly groundbreaking, but there’s been a slew of openings that warrant a return visit — especially if it’s been a few years.

With tasting rooms in several larger hubs, as well as at remote wineries, the chic town of Healdsburg offers the ideal base camp, complete with its own exciting restaurants and tasting rooms all within walking distance. Spend a day or two popping into tasting rooms that showcase Sonoma wines beyond Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, including Jolie-Laide, Arnot-Roberts, Ruth Lewandowski, and Idlewild. Then return to the classics at the sleek Hirsch Vineyards tasting room, and enjoy the expressive and elegant wines of the coastal Fort Ross-Seaview appellation.

In the evening, kick back with a cocktail and a wood-fired pizza — and maybe even play some bocce ball — at Healdsburg’s Molti Amici, which opened in June 2023. For a wine bar experience, Maison features over 40 rotating glass pours, including sake. Little Saint Healdsburg, a plant-based restaurant that opened in 2022, provides a casual spot for cocktails, coffee, and pastry, while its fine-dining tasting menu can be found at The Second Story.

Outside Healdsburg, Sonoma’s diverse terrain is scattered with more wonderful wineries to visit. The forward-thinking Two Shepherds winery and Ryme Cellars both have tasting rooms near Santa Rosa that showcase their expansive range of wines. Or head to downtown Sebastopol to visit local shops and spend a laid-back afternoon at Pax Wines.

2. Franciacorta, Italy

Credit: Tobin Harris via Unsplash / Consorzio Franciacorta

Northern Italy is all about lake life. And while most will be familiar with celeb-favorite Lake Como, or the colorful scenery surrounding Lake Garda, there’s another lake just an hour outside of Milan that’s home to a gorgeous wine region: Franciacorta, Italy’s premier sparkling wine destination.

Set against a stunning backdrop of rolling hills and the expansive Lake Iseo, this small region in Lombardy was historically known for relatively unremarkable table wines. That all changed with the Berlucchi winery, which made the first bottle of traditional-method sparkling wine labeled under the Franciacorta name in the late 1950s. Other producers followed suit and the style received official DOCG status in 1967; the region has been known for high-quality sparkling wines ever since. Producers in the region reported record sales in 2021 and exports continue to rise each year.

Experience Franciacorta’s history first-hand with a visit to Berlucchi, where guests can descend into the cellars and see one of the first bottles ever made. For an in-depth explanation of the winemaking method and region, visit the modern Ca’ Del Bosco winery, which features an impressive art collection scattered throughout its sprawling property. Other quality producers to seek out include Ricci Curbastro, Barone Pizzini, and Le Marchesine.

Beyond tasting the region’s complex sparkling wines, travelers can book a number of activities like a bike or ATV tour through the vineyards, or even charter a boat to traverse Lake Iseo and take in the views. There’s no shortage of places to eat, either. Lombardy is home to nearly 59 Michelin-starred restaurants, as well as traditional gems like Trattoria del Gallo or Trattoria Muliner. For lakeside lodgings, there’s the stunning RivaLago or Hotel Araba Fenice, and for elevated agriturismo, consider the vineyard farmhouse Locanda Le Quattro Terre.

1. Haloze, Slovenia

Credit: Kobal Wines

While most wine enthusiasts focus on the northwest corner of Slovenia that borders Italy’s Friuli region, the rolling hills of Haloze in the northeast are home to some of the winemakers we’re most excited about right now. Bottles from this region feature both familiar grapes like Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot, as well as lesser-known varieties like Welschriesling, Furmint, and Blaufränkisch. From chilled reds to floral pét-nats and bright pink skin-contact Pinot Gris, the wines here represent the fun-loving wines that drinkers are seeking out now.

The town of Ptuj, the oldest small city in Slovenia, acts as a great anchor for any trip. History buffs will love exploring the Ptuj Castle and Ptujska Klet, the oldest wine cellar in the area with archives and cellars that tunnel under the town. This space has been storing and aging wine since 1239, but now produces wine under the more modern brands Pullus and Haložan. Another popular winery in the region, Kobal — which featured in VinePair’s 50 Best Wines of 2023 — has a tasting room in the oldest building in Ptuj.

About 20 miles away, in the ancient city of Maribor, visitors can see the world’s oldest grapevine, which has produced the indigenous grape Žametna Črnina for over 400 years. Three miles from the center of Maribor, small family winery Hiša Joannes Protner focuses on various expressions of Riesling. Enjoy its crisp and complex wines outside on the winery’s lively patio, and make it an overnight stay with a visit to Hiša Denk, a Michelin-starred restaurant and inn that features modern Slovenian cuisine in a sleek, calming setting.

Driving to vineyard sites outside the towns is also worthwhile, with impressive terraced vineyards and idyllic green hills. The Kobal winery has been carefully restoring the Bajta, an old cottage on top of a hill near its winery, for years. This summer it will finally be completed to host visitors by appointment, and for a fully rural experience stay at the lovely Estate Ana country house.

While visitors can easily fill an entire schedule with activities in this area, Haloze is well situated as a stop on a longer trip, with Austria to the north and the beautiful Adriatic coast about two hours to the east. Coupled with Slovenia’s lovable wines and stunning scenery, what are you waiting for?

The article The World’s Top 10 Wine Destinations for 2024 appeared first on VinePair.

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