For wine lovers, one of the great joys of cruising is getting to visit vineyards and wineries from every corner of the globe. It’s about more than just sampling the local wines - visiting vineyards overseas is an opportunity to learn more about a location, its culture and rich history. There’s no better way to get to know a wine region’s traditions, terroir, and techniques than by exploring its vineyards and speaking to the experts who spend their days growing the grapes and producing the wine.
Wine tastes better when you’ve stood on the soil where the vines are grown. That’s why so many of our Food and Wine Shore Excursions are so popular with those looking to explore new tastes, smells and experiences.
South America is known for its cultural and indulgent wines, with Argentina and Chile producing some of the best wines south of the equator. Combined, Chile and Argentina produce 81% of South America’s wine, with Malbec being at the top of the production chain.
Argentina is the fifth-largest wine producer in the world, with its most famous wine being Argentine Malbec. The country produces a wide variety of wines in addition to the beloved Malbec, including Tempranillo, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
The diverse landscape of this popular travel destination makes it the perfect environment for vines to flourish in. The fertile land, rainforests and mountainous terrain give it an edge over other wine-producing countries. Most of the grapes produced in the region are grown at the foot of the Andes, which means they harvest at high elevation.
We spoke to Chloe from Wanderlust Chloe who enjoys trying different wines when she visits a new country, with Argentina being her favourite wine region: “From Italy to California and Chile to Australia, I think wine tasting is a great activity for travels around the world. My favourite wine region is Argentina's Uco Valley. It's the home of Malbec, a full-bodied red wine that tastes even better when tasted at one of the region's many vineyards. The scenery is spectacular, with the snow-capped Andes Mountains as the backdrop to the incredible modern architecture of the wineries. My favourite wineries included Salentein and Domaine Bousquet. I also loved the lunch with wine pairing at Andeluna - another winery with a spectacular view. I still remember the delicious steak accompanied by a rich Malbec!”
Neighbouring Argentina, Chile is also known for producing excellent Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay wines. The unique Chilean microclimate is protected by the Andes to the east, the Pacific Ocean to the west, a desert to the north and the Antarctic to the south. This combination of warm southern sun and chilly ocean breezes result in fresh, acidic whites and powerful reds.
When you think of amazing winemaking countries, France has to be up there as one of the most famous, so it should come as no surprise to see France featured on this list. Home to eleven major wine regions, as well as several smaller regions, there is plenty to whet your palate in this historic state. To find out the key differences between the regions, check out our handy Guide to French Food and Wine.
Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc all originate from this European gem and together they make up 23.3% of the grape varieties grown in the country. The most popular French wine regions to cruise to are Provence and Bordeaux, two elegant locations with a lot of wine knowledge to offer.
Provence is located in the south of France and is a must-visit travel destination for rosé lovers. It’s the world’s largest producer of the sweet, pink wine. In fact, over 88% of the wine produced here is rosé. Winemaking has existed in Provence for over 2,500 years – ever since the ancient Greeks founded Marseilles in 600 BC.
In addition to being a historic and popular wine region, Provence is a magical place to visit. The luxurious, sun-kissed Cote d’Azur is perfect for cruising, and Marseilles makes an excellent stop-off point for exploring the region. It’s impossible not to fall in love with the picturesque lavender fields, historic chateaus and rustic cuisine.
If you’re looking to combine wine tasting with an exploration of the area, book the Taste of Provence guided tour. A 4-night pre-cruise experience offering the very best food and wine the region has to offer.
Bordeaux, in the southwest of France, is an ideal travel destination for red wine lovers in particular. Winemaking in the region dates back thousands of years and now over 90% of the wines produced in Bordeaux are red, with the majority being made with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes.
Dive into French culture by immersing yourself in the food and wine of the land, our Champagne, Cognac & Wines of France Guided Tour takes you right to the heart of the vines on a 4- or 5-night wine-filled adventure.
This wine region didn’t take off until the late 1960s but has been rapidly growing ever since. Today, Australia is the fourth largest exporter of wine worldwide and wine tasting is one of the most popular things to do when visiting.
A wine lover’s trip to Australia wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Adelaide and the nearby Barossa Valley. The Barossa Valley is one of Australia’s most acclaimed wine regions thanks to the earthy Shiraz wines produced here. In fact, Shiraz is Australia’s most common varietal.
Coriole Vineyards is one of the most famous locations in the region and has been producing celebrated wines for over 50 years.
To truly appreciate Australian wine, you have to drink it on Australian soil. We offer incredible Australian Wine and Food Excursions that take guests beyond typical wine tasting. When you get to know the people who've been making wine for generations, you sip it with a new appreciation for every ounce of effort that goes into creating the perfect balance of flavours.
From the top of the boot to the heel, Italy produces incredible wine. Visiting vineyards and sampling fine wines are must-do activities when in Italy and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to do so in a country steeped in winemaking history and rich, vibrant cultures. With over 350 known wine varieties and 2,000 different Italian grapes, there is bound to be a tipple for everyone’s taste buds.
Situated on Elba Island, Portoferraio has its own micro-climate of winemaking connoisseurs who have perfected a unique and popular taste. The dedication of a few local businesses has kept the small island flourishing, making it a popular destination for wine-loving travellers.
Get a taste for the local food and drink with a Baking Class and Wine Tasting Excursion in the heart of the town, and spend your day making fresh biscotti and trying fresh wine and cheese pairings.
Tuscany, arguably the wine capital of the world, is renowned for producing liquid gold in the form of red and white wines. Costal vineyards are equally matched by the rows of vines on the undulating hills of the region. Winemaking has been a way of life in Italy and especially Tuscany for thousands of years, with some of the vines here reaching over 400 years old. Experience the Castellos and Wines of Tuscany for yourself on our specially curated guided tours in the region.
We spoke to Emily who blogs at Wander-Lush, who told us we can’t leave Georgia off the list: “Kakheti region in the Republic of Georgia is one of the world’s oldest and most unique wine regions.
“Along with neighbouring Armenia, eastern Georgia is thought to be the global birthplace of viticulture. Archaeologists have discovered relics of grape fermentation that go as far back as the 6th millennium BC, pre-dating wine production in France by more than 5,000 years. Georgian wine is traditionally made in qvevris, huge clay vessels set beneath the earth. With more than 400 varietals of grape, there are a lot of different drops to sample.
“Wine tasting in Georgia is the perfect excursion because it blends the interwoven themes of history, religion, food and viticulture. A degustation is about so much more than just wine – it also gives visitors a window into Georgian culture.”
Spain & Portugal
Though Spain may not be as renowned for wines as France, it is, in fact, the third-largest producer of wine worldwide. Furthermore, Spain has the most acreage of vineyards in the entire world at over one million acres, with Portugal not far behind as an up-and-coming location. Perhaps the country’s most famous wine region is Rioja, located in the northern part of central Spain.
There are four classifications of Rioja wine. The basic form is Rioja, and these wines have not been aged long. Crianza wines have been aged in oak for at least a year before being aged in the bottle for several months. As Spanish wines are less famous than French wines, Gran Reserva is generally less expensive than French wines of similar quality and ageing. Explore this wine-rich region on a Basque Country and Rioja Wine Guided Tour.
Porto is a location renowned for its Port-producing qualities and a location that lovers of all wine varieties should make sure they visit. Allison from Please The Palate thinks Portugal should be at the top of everyone’s list:
“There is a huge world of wine to discover and it can be overwhelming choosing which region to visit next. There is really no wrong answer. Italy, France, Spain, Germany, Austria, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Chile, Argentina, California and Oregon are all fantastic places to visit. But, one country that should be at the top of the list is Portugal. Head to the amazing city of Porto, from here, you can visit the famous Douro Valley region where Port is made.
“No matter where you are heading out on your next excursion, make sure to visit a wine region. When visiting wineries, you can learn about a region’s history, culture and cuisine. And, you may be introduced to indigenous wine varieties that you have never tried before.”
We also spoke to a member of the team at Taste Porto who told us why they think the Douro Valley is the best location for wine lovers: “Well, anywhere in Portugal would be perfect. But if I had to choose one place I would say, without hesitation, the Douro Valley. It’s heaven on Earth: dazzling landscape, tremendous food, and unique wines.
“I have visited lots of vineyards in Douro Valley and can easily say that there are many amazing places worth a visit, but just to name a couple, I would say Quinta das Carvalhas (located in the heart of Douro Valley with a unique view over Pinhão) and Quinta do Pôpa (a small-scale project where they can arrange a picnic and wine tasting in the vineyards).”
Maybe not your first thought when it comes to top wine-producing countries, Lanzarote is surprisingly a hot-spot for hand-crafted wines. With rolling hills, black volcanic soil and warm yet mild air, despite all odds, vines have thrived in the area for hundreds of years.
“For wine lovers or for those just with a vague interest alike, a visit to the wine region of La Geria is a must. The vineyards are stunning, set in the foothills surrounding the Timanfaya National Park, where famous volcanic eruptions between 1730 to 1736 made wine production possible.” Says the team at Wine Tours Lanzarote.
“The cultivation of the island’s vines is unique, as are the varieties which grow in the soil that lies beneath the volcanic ash. Our most famous varietal, Malvasia Volcanica, can only be found on the island and this delicious white wine, which matches our sunny climate so well, is a must while stopping off at one of the island’s vineyards, such as Bodegas El Grifo. This fascinating Bodega, dates back to 1775, making it one of the ten oldest in the whole of Spain. Visiting smaller, artisan vineyards off the beaten track also offers fascinating stories, great wines and a real insight into Lanzarote life.”
One of the added perks of cruising to the world’s best wine regions is getting to sample more wine along the way. After all, shouldn’t your journey be just as enjoyable as your destinations? We certainly think so.
Many of our cruise ships are home to incredible wine cellars stocked with rare and fine wines from all over the world, with our onboard sommeliers on hand to help you choose the perfect wine to complement your meal. All that is left to do now is book your next guided food and wine tour and browse our late cruise deals before getting excited for the mouth-watering adventure that awaits.