Best Wineries in the World
So as not to leave out the winos who follow this blog (and you know who you are), I wrap up the Best… in the World series by raising a glass to the Best Wineries in the World! Our wine journey takes us to California, New Zealand, Australia, Argentina, and South Africa. Notice that all the wineries submitted by fellow wine and travel bloggers fall in the New World category. Are we onto a trend here? Read on and share your thoughts at the end!
Mayacamas Vineyards in Napa Valley, California – Wander and Wine
Having worked in the wine industry for a while, I’ve visited my fair share of wineries throughout the world. Some have great views or a cool ambiance or just plain awesome wines. Some are modern or industrial and some wineries aren’t much more than a shack! My favorite winery experience ever took place in Napa Valley, where great views, excellent wine and history all came together in one winery: Mayacamas Vineyards.
I got to visit the historic Mayacamas before it was open to the public last summer. Our private tasting lasted about 3 hours, starting with a tour of the winemaking facility followed by an off-roading tour of the property and vineyards by UTV. We ended with a wine tasting overlooking the valley below, where you could see Carneros all the way to the San Pablo Bay. It was so quiet and peaceful and a truly fantastic place for a wine tasting.
There are the great wine experiences and then there are the exceptional ones. My visit to Mayacamas Winery was the latter, which makes it my answer for the Best Winery in the World!
Hana-Lee Sedgwick is the author and photographer of the blog, Wander & Wine, where she shares her wine, food and travel adventures. Born and raised in Santa Barbara, she fell in love with the world of wine while living in San Francisco after college and soon became certified as a Sommelier. Hana-Lee loves to help people learn about and appreciate wine, and her writing has been featured regionally and nationally in publications and websites.
Chard Farm Winery in the Central Otago, New Zealand – The Global Couple
Chard Farm Winery, in the Central Otago region of New Zealand, is our all-time favourite. We love all of their wines, but particularly their outstanding Pinot Noir – the Viper, Tiger, and Mata-Au varieties are all superb. Their aromatics are also divine, especially the Gewürztraminer. The people running the cellar door are so friendly, you really feel like you’ve stepped into someone’s home!
Chard Farm is located at the end of a rather hairy road along the Kawarau Gorge, about 15 minutes from Queenstown – it’s one car wide and has a cliff on one side and a sheer drop to the river below on the other side! More than one car has tumbled off the road, so be careful! But when you get there, it’s totally worth it.
We’re Petra and Shaun, two twenty-something New Zealanders who love travel at home and across the globe. We love road trips, street food, and wandering with no destination in mind! Read more on our blog The Global Travel Couple.
Pulenta Estate in Mendoza, Argentina – Living the Dream
For Angie’s birthday we went on a premium wine tour in Mendoza, Argentina. We ended up hitting about four or five vineyards and had somewhere around 25-30 samples of wine as well as a five-course lunch at one of the vineyards.
Our favorite was Pulenta Estate as their Grand Reserve Malbec and Grand Reserve Pinot Noir (a rare find in South America) were some of the best wines of the day- not to mention the fact that the tasting room looked like something out of a movie.
When we got home we found that we can actually find their young wines at the wine stores near us, but unfortunately no Grand Reserve to be found. I guess we’ll have to go back on a shopping trip one day soon!
Jeremy is the owner of Living the Dream, a long-term travel blog that inspires others to get out and explore the world for months or years on end. Since founding the site he has been on two long-term trips, visited 67 countries, and focuses on adventure and culinary activities around the world.
Rochford Winery in Yarra Valley, Australia – No Ordinary Normad
My favourite winery in the world is Rochford Winery, located in the Yarra Valley wine region, about an hour’s drive outside of Melbourne in Australia. There’s not only your standard cellar door there, they also have an excellent restaurant and large outdoor space for events. They have a large range of red, white and sparkling wines, which regularly win prestigious awards both locally and internationally.
I normally only drink white wine, however last time I went and did a tasting at Rochford I found the first red wine that I’ve actually enjoyed drinking – a 2004 Macedon Ranges Pinot Noir. Make sure that you have lunch at Isabella’s, their onsite restaurant, I’ve eaten their twice and both times it was delicious and of course with perfectly matched wines!
The great thing about Rochford is that they also play host to a heap of events throughout the year. They regularly host A Day On The Green, a series of outdoor concerts which has featured a wide range of artists such as Mariah Carey, John Legend and Billy Idol. Throughout the summer months they also show movies outdoors, just bring along a picnic and watch one of the latest movies surrounded by the stunning mountain ranges and vineyard!
What I love about Rochford is that it’s not just a winery that produces great wines, but also a fantastic destination to watch a concert or movie, or just have a great meal. Rochford Winery is a stop off on most Yarra Valley winery tours (usually for lunch!) or you can head out there 7 days a week from 9am to 5pm (open later until 10pm on Saturdays).
Erin is a travel and adventure blogger who fell in love with Asia six years ago and has travelled every chance she gets since! She has canoed through limestone karsts in Phang Nga Bay, stayed with a local Indian family in Varanasi and watched the sun rise over Mt Everest from the summit of Kala Patthar. You can read about Erin’s adventures on her blog No Ordinary Nomad.
Maison Estate in Franschhoek, South Africa – The Wandering Gourmand
I wanted to draw some notoriety to the young wineries in my home state of North Carolina or celebrate my quarter of Italian heritage by nominating one of the wineries we visited in Tuscany. The problem is that I’ve been to Franschhoek, South Africa which is not only one of the most beautiful wine appellations in the world but also one of the most beautiful places period.
Franschhoek makes it safe and easy to winery hop by offering two trams that take winos from the quaint village center through the heart of the lush green valley with stops at various wineries along the wine. Some are small family run wineries whose wines you won’t find outside of Franshhoek let alone South Africa. Others are labels you’d recognize from the South African section of your favorite wine store.
Our favorite winery was Maison Estate in the heart of the Franschhoek valley. Included with your tram ticket is a small tasting of two or three wines (can’t remember which). We opted for the food pairing tasting (at an extra cost) after seeing the wide variety of artisanal foods in the shop like chicken and rabbit parfait. I’ve done a lot of food and wine pairings (even hosting a column on this blog), but none were as intricate and planned out as Maison executed. We had a Shiraz paired with biltong, a Blanc Noir paired with a prosciutto truffle, a Straw Wine paired with blue cheese, and a Sweet Shiraz paired with a peanut butter truffle. Each was paired to perfection.
If my dreams came true and I lived in Franschhoek, I would most likely be a regular at Maison Estate either dining in the restaurant, shopping in their gourmet store, or just popping in to stock my wine collection.
Bryan manages The Wandering Gourmand travel blog and has a passion for exploring regional foods, wine, and craft beer. He wants to help you travel and taste the world, too. Click here for instant access to his free guide 8 Steps to Going on Your Dream Vacation.
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