Do you love your wine? We don’t blame you. And it seems we are not alone. Wine, is quite possibly, the most popular and consumed beverage in the world.
You may drink wine for many different reasons. To quench your thirst, increase your appetite before a meal, supplement great food, or simply because you treasure the unique flavour in every individual varietal. Research into wine has also been proven to improve health. But only in moderation of course! Nevertheless, wine tells a story of where it was produced. It is a reflection of the environment of where the grapes were grown. And this is what makes it so special.
With wine regions in France, Italy and Spain among others, Europe is blessed with some of the greatest wine growing regions in the world. Incredibly rich in history, wine has been produced in the regions for thousands of years. There are records of grapes being used to produce the beverage dating back to the Ancient Egyptian and Roman eras.
So, what are some of the best wine regions throughout Europe? And which cities should you visit at the same time?
Wine Regions of France
Bordeaux Wine Region
The Bordeaux wine region is the wine industries capital, which explains why the main wine festival, Vinexpo takes place here. The region comprises of many wine growing districts. These include Medoc, Pomerol and Saint Emilion among others. Cut in two by the River Garonne and the River Dordogne, thousands of chateaux and wineries are found over the 120,000 hectares. The Rothschild family own vineyards here too. Some of the main varieties of wine produced in the region are Merlot, Malbec and Sauvignon Blanc.
Obviously, Bordeaux is the city to visit while in the region. It is alive with art and history. Paris is the only city to have more historical buildings in France. The Musee des Beaux Arts contains masterpieces from artists Matisse and Picasso.
There are many Bordeaux wine tours from the city to delve into its wine industry.
Bordeaux Wine Region Map
Champagne Region – Reims, France
This one goes without saying, The Champagne region in France. Best known for its sparkling white wine, and the cellars which have been carved out below the surface. The chalk terrain is the is a contributing factor to the quality of the wine produced. Its location, not too far away from Paris, has also contributed to the areas success. Tattinger, Veuve Cliquot-Ponsardin and Ruinart amongst others are the famous wine houses of Champagne.
Reims is one of the centres of wine production in the region. It is an intriguing city with its mix of art deco and gothic design. The headquarters of many top wine producers are based in Reims and make use of the chalk tunnels which weave there way under the city.
Many of these headquarters provide Champagne region tours and are well worth experiencing.
Champagne Region Map
Languedoc Roussillon Wine Region – Montpellier, France
Languedoc Roussillon is located in the south of France and stretches all the way from Rhone valley to the Spanish border. There is over 280,000 acres of vineyards, making it one of the largest wine-producing regions in the world. It has become known as the 'wine lake' due to its supply surplus of wine. Many varieties are produced here and the region is accountable for a third of all the wine made in France.
Montpellier is the capital of the Languedoc region. It is a stylish city where the modern mixes perfectly with the old. The winding alleys of the old town provide a great destination to do a little shopping and experience the culture.
Montpellier is a great location for touring the Languedoc Roussillon region. Many tours are available taking you from the city to the vineyards in the surrounding area.
Wine Regions of Italy
Tuscany Region – Florence, Italy
Tuscany is located in the eastern side of central Italy and is famous for its wine growing region and most notably the wine, Chianti. With its warm climate and hilly terrain many wineries have vineyards at higher altitudes. This assists with the quality and taste of the grapes. Tuscany is not one of the main producing areas of wine in Italy, as growing conditions are challenging, but the wine that is produced is of the highest quality.
The capital of Tuscany is the beautiful city of Florence. Despite only being a relatively small city, art and architecture can be discovered everywhere. Other than just wine, Florence has a traditional locally produced food from its nearby farms. Cheese and cured meats are recognised as some of the best in Italy.
There are many ways to visit the Tuscan vineyards from the city. Even by helicopter if you wish. The choice is yours.
Piedmont Region – Asti, Italy
The Piedmont region is located in the north west of Italy and is surrounded by the Alps mountain range. It was first known for its wine making in the 14th century and most notably known for its Nebbiolo grape. Of which the wines Barolo and Barbaresco are produced.
The city of Asti sits right at the heart of the region and only around 30 miles from Turin. Asti itself produces a sparkling wine which has been aptly named after the city. The scenery here is simply stunning, rolling hills and vineyards stretch for miles.
Wine Regions of Spain
La Rioja Wine Region – Logrono, Spain
La Rioja is a region located in the north of Spain. Evidence has been found to suggest the grape has been in the area since the 9th century. There are three main regions of wine growing and these produce millions of litres of wine every year. Spread over 60,000 hectares there are more than 600 wineries.
Located along the north edge of the region is the charming city of Logrono. Not many people have heard of Logrono but is now becoming an up and coming destination for tourists. It is the perfect hub to explore the La Rioja region of Spain.
Catalonia – Tarragona, Spain
Catalonia is made up of ten wine regions. Located on the Mediterranean coast the climate has a large influence on the wines taste. The region's most recognisable wine is Cava which is a white sparkling wine. As being the birthplace of Cava, many tourists are drawn to the area where many festivals revolving around the beverage take place.
The city of Tarragona is a wine growing region too. Wine has been produced in the coast lined city since the Romans occupied the area. It is awash with ancient roman remains. Many events take place throughout the year making for a lively atmosphere.
There are several tours available around the vineyards of Catalonia, where you can sample the local produce.
More Popular Wine Regions of Europe
Douro Valley – Porto, Portugal
The Douro Valley in Portugal is located along the winding Douro River valleys and the stunning scenery is something to behold. Vineyards cover the hillside ridges. The landscape is now a World Heritage Site.
There are many wineries along the Douro Valley. Port is the most recognised drink from the region. This name was conceived from the city of Porto which is situated at the mouth of the Doumo River. It was also the city where many of the exports to other countries took place.
Porto is a vibrant city and Portugal's capital of culture. Famous for the historical architecture, it is also gaining popularity with the contemporary art scene.
Many tours to the wine region begin in Porto, so is well worth doing as part of your city break here. A river tour is a great way to discover the Douro Valley. Although should you wish you can explore a little further along the river by jumping on a train or taking a car.
The Eger region of Hungary is most recognised for its Hungarian red wine called Egri Bikaver, ‘Bull’s Blood of Eger’. This is due to its deep colour. Kekfrancos is the main variety of grape planted in Eger. Others such as Merlot and Pinot noir are used for blends. As well as the popular red wines, white wine is also produced here.
Named ‘The Valley of the Beautiful Lady’ you will find the vineyards throughout the Bukk mountains. There are over 200 producers along this route, all of which are easy to reach from the city of Eger itself.
Here you will find castles, thermal baths and many other historical landmarks. These include the Eger Castle and the Church of Anthony of Padua.
From the city there are numerous tours from which you can discover the wine cellars throughout the area.
Istria – Pula, Croatia
The heart shaped Istria wine region is located on the western peninsula of Croatia. The area was named Wine Region of the Year 2017 by some and the ‘New Tuscany’ by others. These are no small claims. It is known for being able to produce a multitude of different wines due to its favourable climate. Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Muscat and Sauvignon Blanc are all produced throughout the many wineries.
Located within the region of Istria is the ancient city of Pula. The city is most recognisable for its large Roman amphitheatre which attracts tourists from all corners of the globe. There are many other perfect examples of ancient architecture and artefacts which are well worth exploring.
Many wine tours are available in and from Pula making this the perfect location to discover this exciting and ever more popular wine making region.
Rhineland Pfalz Wine Region – Mainz, Germany
Rhineland Pfalz is Germany’s primary wine growing region although it the second largest in Germany. Spread over the 24,000 hectares you will find over 6000 vineyards. The first vineyards were said to have been planted here by the Romans 2000 years ago. Also known as the Palatinate region it is located on the Haardt Mountains. The sandstone and volcanic soil make for prosperous growing conditions. Riesling white grapes are the most grown in the area which is used in a variety of wine types from dry, sweet and sparkling.
There are several cities within the region although Mainz is the wine capital of Germany and is rich in both history and culture. It is known for its Roman heritage and universities of which the later provides the city with a lively nightlife. Mainz is quite the location for both cultural heritage and wine-growing folklore.
Lavaux Region – Lausanne, Switzerland
The Lavaux region in Switzerland contains the largest number of vineyards in the country, covering 800 hectares. The region stretches along the stunning rolling hills of the north side of Lake Geneva. Wine has been recognised to have been grown in the region since the 11th century and is still a large part of the local culture. More is consumed locally than exported.
Situated to the southwest of the region is the city of Lausanne. It is said by many to be one of the most beautiful cities in Switzerland with its views and historic old town. A chilled friendly atmosphere makes it the perfect location to relax and unwind.
As said, most of the wine produced is made in the Lavaux region next door, so why not join the locals in sampling some of the specialties produced here.
Surrey – London, United Kingdom
Located on the Surrey hills you will find the Denbies wine estate. Denbies have been producing wine in the region since 1986. It is now the largest wine producer in the UK with over 100,000 hectares of vineyards. The chalky soil of the landscape enables the estate to produce hundreds of thousands of wines every year.
Situated just an hour outside the city of London, Denbies wine estate is well worth visiting when in the capital.
Attica – Athens, Greece
Attica is one of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world. The famous Retsina wine was first developed here. Sunshine provides favourable conditions of which the wind helps to keep the temperatures lower at around 18 degrees. There are over thirty wineries in the region making both red and white wine varieties. Attica is located in the south of Greece and is just a stones throw away from the ancient city of Athens.
Athens is the capital of Greece. At well over 3000 years old it is also the oldest city in the world. Steeped in history you will find many recognisable landmarks such as the Acropolis and Parthenon. Due to its close proximity to the Attica region there are many wine tours available to the local vineyards. When on your city break in Athens be sure to explore the area.