For anyone who loves wine, taking a trip to a vineyard is probably the ideal vacation.
To help you find that perfect wine tasting spot, the editors of Wine Enthusiast Magazine search the globe to craft an expert list of the best wine destinations of 2015.
From vineyards tucked away in the foothills of the Alps to a surprising newcomer in upstate New York, these are the most exciting wine destinations to visit this year.
The Finger Lakes region in upstate New York is a soon to be widely talked about local secret. “Nestled amidst bucolic farmland and the spindly glacial lakes for which the region is named, it’s home to some of the best cool-climate wines in America,” Anna Lee C. Iijima writes in WineMag, “Know particularly for world-class Riesling, it’s also home to an increasingly diverse array of wines, from Grüner Veltliner to Teroldego.”
Prominent Wine: Riesling.
When to go: Summer and fall.
Piedmont, which means “foot of the mountain, is a region in Italy that borders Switzerland and France. Known for its majestic snow-capped Alps and rolling vine-cover hills, the vineyards in Piedmont are some of the most celebrated in Italy. The region is also known for its famed rare white truffles. Piedmont was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in June 2014.
Prominent wines: Barolo and Barbaresco.
When to go: September or October, just before or during the harvest.
Known for its classic Bordeaux varieties,Hawke’s Bay is a “grape-growing paradise,” amidst rolling hills and rivers. Located along the Pacific coast of New Zeland’s North Island, this region also offers plenty of outdoor activities like biking trails between winery visits.
Prominent Wines: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah.
When to go: January and February.
France’s second-largest wine-growing area is full of quaint villages and beautiful vineyards. TheRhône Valley covers nearly 150 miles and 5,500 estates, so there is plenty to see.
Prominent Wines: Reds of Hermitage, Guigal, Chapoutier, and Paul Jaboulet Aîné.
When to go: During May’s Festival of Vine and Wine, July’s Festival d’Avignon, and the Ban des Vendanges harvest celebration in October.
When a person thinks of Orlando, the first thing that comes to mind is usually Disney World. But the area is also home to “brag-inducing eats and world-class wine experiences,”says Alexis Korman.
New neighborhoods like the Mills 50 District and Winter Park are home to award winning chefs, hidden speakeasies, Basque-style restaurants, and plenty of fine wine.
When to go: September — because kids will be back in school.
Located in the northwestern corner of Spain, Galicia is a region that was settled by Visigoths and Celts, and a place where the residents still speak a language known as Gallego. Galicia is known for its incredible wine regions of Rías Baixas, Ribeiro, Ribeira Sacra, Valdeorras and Monterrei.The region also offers world-class seafood.
Prominent Wines: Albariño, Treixadura, Godello.
When to go: Late spring into early summer, the time when the white wines from the last year’s harvest are released.
Located just 240 miles east of Vancover, Okanagan is known for its mountain ranges and crystalline lakes, and its 131 wineries and more than 8,000 acres of vineyards. The region sits between the Coastal and Monashee mountain ranges, and has plenty of water sports and hiking.
Prominent Wines: Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Bordeaux-style blends.
When to go: Any time of the year, each season has its own special wine festivals and celebrations.
Loirie Valley is a perfect place to sip wine while enjoying the views of the Loire River. Located in central France, the best wine producing areas are in the Anjou and Touraine regions. There are also plenty of French castles to explore.
Prominent Wines: Sparkling wine from Saumur, Rosés from Anjou, and red wines from Chinon, Bourgeuil, and Saumur-Champigny.
When to go: Easter through autumn harvest.
Located on the north coast of California, Mendocino County has 107 wineries and more than 17,000 acres of vineyards. Mendocino county is also home to a breathtaking rocky coast, the giant trees in the redwoods, and wild chanterelle mushrooms.
Prominent Wines: Pinot Noir and Gewürztraminer, Zinfandel, and Petite Sirah.
When to go: January through March for the Dungeness crab season.
Istria has had a complicated history, it was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, then it was ruled by Italy, and later incorporated into Yugoslave, and is governed by Croatia today.
Despite its dramatic history, Istria is an idea destination for wine travel. “Remnants of a distant Roman past, Venetian Empire architecture, picturesque hilltop villages, panoramic sea views, year-round festivals, inspired cusinine, and fantastic wines are all a reason to put Istria on your bucket list of wine regions,” writes Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen.
Prominent Wines: Malvasia Istriana and Chardonnay
When to go: April through October, when it’s off season for tourists.