If you love great wine as much as you love a great photo op — and who doesn’t — why should you have to choose? You don’t have to sacrifice good wine for good views, because some of the best wines in the world come from the most scenic places on the planet. Whether you prefer rolling green hills, sparkling blue seas or winding cobblestone lanes, these stunning destinations offer world-class wine and amazing scenery.
Here are our top three destinations for exceptional wine tasting and scenery, together at last.
1. Greek Isles of Santorini and Crete
Exceptional ocean views and intense, crisp wines
The islands of Greece have long been a destination for those who love romantic ocean views. Add in a passion for a crisp, dry Assyrtiko and it doesn’t get much better than Santorini. Long cherished as the home of this intense, citrusy white, you’ll fall in love with the island’s unique trellis system: nest-like vines are arranged low to the ground, offering safety from sea breezes. Santorini is also known for its rugged landscape and quaint, whitewashed villages that cling to cliffs overlooking the sapphire sea.
Santorini’s neighboring isle, Crete, is Greece’s second largest wine region. The island’s high altitude results in stunning views of the Mediterranean below. Here, you’ll also discover several unique varietals, including floral Viviano and sweet, delicate Thrapsathiri.
2. Jura, France
Breathtaking mountain scenery and interesting, exclusive wines
Nestled between eastern France’s Burgundy and Switzerland, the isolated, mountainous Jura offers flavorful wines and breathtaking panoramic views. This tiny region (only 4,400 acres!) produces a limited amount of quirky, exclusive wines that are in demand worldwide. Pungent and intense, the white Savagnin Vin Jaune, or yellow wine, captures the imagination; this complex, controversial wine is aged for six years under a film of yeast, resulting in the perfect complement for a French cheese course.
The Jura’s cool climate also produces fresh Chardonnays, pale but fragrant Poulsards, and full-bodied Trousseaus. In the Jura, you’ll find rolling green hills, lush valleys and vineyards, ancient provincial towns, and stunning views of the Swiss Alps in the distance.
3. Napier and Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand
The scenery of the redwood forest and zesty white wine tastings
Visitors to Napier, New Zealand can explore the redwood forest in Te Mata Park, cruise the sun-lit waters of Hawke’s Bay, and enjoy a range of award-winning wines. This North Island region’s plentiful sunshine combines with a temperate coastal climate to produce fresh, zesty whites that are enjoyed around the world. The stony soil and mild climate in Hawke’s Bay also create Bordeaux-style reds, many with mineral influences, and strong, rich Sauvignon Blancs.
Hawke’s Bay is the oldest wine region in the country, and 80 percent of New Zealand’s Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are grown here. The scenery runs to the pastoral, appealing to those who love green farmland marked by low hills and rambling rivers, with the occasional sheep heard sprinkled in. Near the coast, you’ll find stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.
These three regions of the world offer the perfect marriage of amazing wine and beautiful scenery. Are you ready to experience them for yourself?