For most people, a wine vacation brings thoughts of springtime bud break, summertime veraison, and early autumn harvest. But how do you enjoy a wine vacation in the middle of winter? Remember, when it’s winter in the northern hemisphere, it’s summer below the equator, so you can experience the same cycles of the vine on the other side of the calendar down under. Here are a few new world wine vacations in the southern hemisphere.
Australia is probably most well known for Shiraz, the country’s word for Syrah, but there is a lot more to wine country here than many may realize. You’ll find beautiful Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Riesling, and more.
The southern part of Australia, especially near Adelaide, is filled with the greatest concentration of vineyards. Major cities like Sydney, Melbourne, or Perth make great jumping off points for wine country exploration. Some of the best-known wine regions are:
Barossa Valley: near Adelaide, the king of Australian Shiraz
Margaret River: near Perth, well known for its Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon wines
Hunter Valley: near Sydney, best known for its Semillion white wines
Yarra Valley: near Melbourne, famous for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and sparkling wines
Clare Valley: near Adelaide, best known for Riesling
For an off-the-beaten-path experience, venture off to the island of Tasmania where you’ll find some of the best cool climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines.
The lost French grape Carmenere is the wine most often associated with Chile, but the country also produces a number of other notable reds and whites. Santiago is a great base for Chilean wine vacations as there are a number of regions that can be explored, even on a day trip.
Some areas in Chile to focus your wine vacation on include:
Maipo Valley: Home to world-renowned red wines like Cabernet Sauvignons, Carmenere, and Syrah
Aconcagua Valley: You’ll find small and medium sized high-quality wineries, along with a variety of notable natural attractions like Temas de Jahuel Hot Springs
San Antonio Valley: San Antonio Valley is known for white wines like Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, as well as Pinot Noir
Casablanca Valley: Cool climate white wines like Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay
Colchagua Valley: More reds than whites
Argentina’s Mendoza region is the most impressive spot if you’re looking to plan a wine vacation. Set at the foot of the Andes Mountains, the soil and climate here are ideal, showcasing Argentina’s signature grape, Malbec. You’ll also find great Cabernet Sauvignon and Torrontes, a white wine.
The scenery of New Zealand makes for a stunning backdrop no matter what part of the country you visit. If you’re looking to try some of New Zealand’s best wines, venture along the “Classic New Zealand Wine Trail,” where you’ll find well over 100 wineries. Start in Hawkes Bay with bold Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah; venture down to Wairarapa for cool climate Pinot Noir; and finish off in Marlborough for stellar Sauvignon Blanc.
Cape Town is the best jumping off point to South Africa’s most noted wine trails. Stellenbosch is considered the center for wine production in South Africa with nearly 200 wine producers, and it’s also now one of the most popular tourist destinations in the entire country. You’ll find a variety of both high-quality red and white wines produced here.
If you’re looking to explore some of South Africa’s other interesting wine routes, consider:
Constantia Valley: where you’ll find some of the oldest and prestigious wineries; look for cool climate wines like Sauvignon Blanc
Helderberg Wine Route: Lots of great whites, including Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay
Franschhoek Wine Route: You’ll see a large French influence here and a Champagne-inspired sparkling wine route, or the “Cap Classique Route”
Durbanville: Aside from great wines, you’ll get beautiful views back towards Table Mountain
Check when the optimal season is for visiting. As the seasons are opposite from those of the Northern Hemisphere, the growing season is different. For example, Chilean vines grow from October to February and harvest season is typically around March and April.
Always remember that losses resulting from drinking and driving are not covered under your RoamRight policy. It’s always best to book a tour or private driver when exploring wine country on vacation. It means you can enjoy sampling some of the wines without worrying about getting back and forth to your hotel.
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Erin is a travel and food writer who currently splits her time between the Netherlands and Belize. She's traveled to 60+ countries on 5 continents with a passion for culinary travel, luxury hotels, and all things Disney. Her writing has appeared in numerous online outlets including Gadling, BootsnAll, CNN, Art of Backpacking, TravBuddy, CBS, and more. She was the major author of Belize's official visitor magazine, Destination Belize 2013; wrote the official AFAR Guide to Belize; and is also AFAR Magazine's local Belize expert.. In addition to writing for other publications, Erin maintains several blogs, Our Tasty Travels, No Checked Bags, Pooh's Travels, and the brand new Caye To Belize. Follow Erin on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus.
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