Best Wine Vacations
Gorgeous vineyards, delectable food and (of course) top-notch vino – these are the essentials of a wine vacation. To help you plan a great trip (where wine tours and tastings are just the start), U.S. News tracked down destinations that promise spectacular scenery and a distinguished wine culture. Vote for your favorite destination to sip chardonnay or shiraz to help determine next year's rankings. Then grab a glass, pour some "cab" and start packing.
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Tuscany's world-renowned Chianti classico draws grape-seekers in droves. But another major draw is the destination's verdant landscape with its picturesque rolling hills and leafy vineyards. For a heavenly glass, visit Castello del Trebbio, a winery housed in a former palace skirting Florence.
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Often overlooked in favor of neighboring Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley offers an equally impressive landscape and collection of vineyards perfect for a full-bodied wine vacation. And with delicious Californian cuisine served at the area's many top-tier restaurants and hotels, you may never want to leave.
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For an incredible grape escape, jet to California wine country. Filled with cozy caverns, top-notch hotels, picturesque vineyards and more than three dozen types of grapes, this scenic retreat sits about 65 miles north of San Francisco. For an intimate wine experience, head to Frog's Leap or O'Brien Estate for the day.
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Bordeaux#4 in Best Wine Vacations
Bordeaux has a world-renowned reputation for its sumptuous reds. In fact, more than 85 percent of the wine Bordeaux produces is red. Don't leave without trying the cabernet sauvignon or merlot, or seek out a glass that's a blend of both. And if you can, splurge on one of the city's Michelin-starred restaurants, including Gordon Ramsay's Le Pressoir d'Argent.
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So many centuries-old vineyards and medieval villages sprawl across Burgundy's gorgeous countryside, it was granted UNESCO World Heritage distinction in 2015. Sip as much pinot noir and chardonnay as your heart desires (both regional specialties). Plus, thanks to the variety of Michelin-starred restaurants, you'll have no problem finding delectable food to pair with your vino.
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Loire Valley#6 in Best Wine Vacations
This picturesque region of France boasts luxury hotels, lush vineyards and peaceful rivers, perfect for a relaxing getaway. The gentle Loire River slivers past vineyards that yield some of the finest French vintages. Here, you can sip tastings of sweet muscadets and crisp sauvignon blancs as well as smoky cabernets.
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If you're a fan of sweet wine, travel to this city on Portugal's northwestern coast. Porto is home to – you guessed it – port wine, and no visit here is complete without sampling the region's delectable vinho. In between tastings of the city's top export, make time for a history lesson at the Port Wine Museum.
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Travel about 30 minutes south of Cape Town and you'll find the Constantia Valley, the oldest wine-making region in the Southern Hemisphere. The valley's wine captured the attention of bigwigs, including the likes of Napoleon Bonaparte. Here, you can sip sparkling chardonnay as you take in the view of the picturesque Table Mountain.
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Willamette Valley#9 in Best Wine Vacations
Referred to as Oregon's wine country, this 150-mile stretch between Portland and Eugene is home to more than 500 wineries. The Willamette Valley is considered one of the world's primary pinot noir-producing areas. If you don't have your own set of wheels, you can easily reach the region from Portland with the help of an organized tour.
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Wine plus ocean views equals magic every time. In Santorini you'll find a variety of wineries and vineyards offering sweeping views of the Mediterranean, including the popular Santo Wines in Pyrgos. What's more, the island's volcanic terrain give the grapes here a taste you'll be unlikely to find elsewhere in the world.
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