Charity De Souza is a Florida native and travel enthusiast. Traveling to over 50 countries abroad and residing in 6, she has a passion for exploring new cultures. While Central Florida is where she calls home, her favorite travel memories include skydiving in Switzerland and watching the sunset in Morocco.
Read full bio
While there are hundreds of alluring wine destinations in Europe, only a few offer the perfect combination of enchanting hillsides, beautiful vineyards, and pleasant weather. It’s at these destinations that you can not only sip on exceptional wines but can also learn how it is produced and immerse yourself in the local culture. From Portugal to Italy, France and Germany, read on to discover the best wine regions in Europe.
The Douro Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the oldest wine regions in the world, where you’ll find enchanting valleys and steep slopes that make it a premier wine destination. Just a short drive from Porto and its famous Port wine aged in cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia across the river, the Douro Valley is home to grapes that create sweet red wines. Travel from Porto to Pocinho for a scenic train journey.
Located in the southwest of France, Bordeaux is one of the largest wine regions in Europe. It’s captivating combination of history, medieval culture and delectable local cuisine make it popular for non-wine enthusiasts, while those looking to indulge in a glass of vino are spoiled with the region’s elegant blends. Fermenting grapes since the 8th century, you can go on guided tours on foot, boat or bike through the picturesque wine country that produces sweet white wine.
Piedmont is a beautiful wine-growing region in the northwest region of Italy, where notable names like Barolo and Barbaresco dominate the region. Surrounded by the Alps, Piedmont offers views of picturesque valleys, cultivated hills and vineyards that are dotted with charming small towns and historic castles. Asti and Alba are the two main cities in this wine region, and are a perfect place to pair delectable regional cuisine with its famous Italian red wines.
Known worldwide for its quality of vineyards and wine cellars, Champagne is a popular day trip from Paris. Spend your days going on tasting and tours, where you can get a behind-the-scenes look at wine cellars that were dug below the city centuries ago. There are many Champagne houses to explore in both Reims and Epernay, including prestigious names such as Veuve, Clicquot and Tattinger. Recently named a UNESCO World Heritage site, this city is considered the historic heart of champagne production.
While many associate Germany with beer, wine production in the Mosel region has generated some highly sought-after bottles. Take the riverside train ride between Cochem and Koblenz for a scenic journey, then wander through the cobblestone streets of Mosel to discover a quaint wine village known for its Riesling grapes. Both Cochem and Trier make excellent home bases for exploring the impressive wine region, where you can sit back at picturesque wineries and enjoy a glass of wine as you watch the world go by.
With over 1,000 years of winemaking experience, Tokaj-Hegyalja in Hungary is a great destination for wine lovers. While you’ll find 22 wine regions in the country, this area is noted for its UNESCO World Heritage status and the world’s oldest botrytized wine. Start your exploration in the foothills of the Zemplen Mountains, where you can stop by historic wine cellars and taste its popular full-bodied sweet dessert wine, Tokaji Aszu.
Boasting a collection of individual wine regions, the countryside of Tuscany is an enchanting area to explore. See its cities that are built atop towering hills, admire the lush green landscapes and learn why wine connoisseurs flock to this area from around the world. Spend your time sampling its delicacies in the wine villages between Florence and Siena, including what the region is known for, which is Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Montepulciano.
An underrated wine destination nestled between vineyards and mountains, Rhone Valley boasts deep, dark wines dominated by Syrah. Marvel at its rugged hillside landscapes where Cotes du Rhone, Hermitage, Côte-Rôtie and Beaumes-de-Venise are produced and learn about the prestigious Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Explore the northern subregion to taste its famous white wines from Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier grapes, while the southern subregion boasts blends of reds, whites and roses.
Catalonia’s pleasant weather is ideal for growing vines and is one of the oldest wine-producing regions in Spain. It consists of different regions, which each have their own identity when it comes to wine. Winemakers here are blending old wine traditions with the new to create some impressive wines, using red grape varietals such as Garnacha and Carignan. The region is also popular for its production of cava, the popular sparkling wine of Spain.
If you prefer small, family-owned wineries, then Istria in Croatia might be the perfect wine destination for you. Located on the northwest peninsula of Croatia, exploring the Istria wine region is a pleasant experience due to its laid-back atmosphere and excellent weather. Here you’ll find Malvasia Istriana, a white grape that produces a fresh fruity wine, while Teran creates a rich, earthy red. Take your time soaking up the beautiful landscapes with hilly land and gentle slopes on a day of sipping the region’s specialties.
While most travelers visit Santorini for its spectacular views and world-class accommodations, it is also one of Europe’s most stunning wine regions. Visit this enchanting destination to indulge in crisp Assyrtiko grapes that are used in single-varietal and blended wines and Nykteri and Vinsanto, which is the island’s sweet white wine. Take a guided tour of the oldest vineyard in Europe to learn why Såantorini uses a unique wine-growing technique, called koulara, which protects the grapes from the strong winds.
Another country that is known for its beers, the Czech Republic is also famous for the Moravia region. Get oriented with Moravia’s wine, culture and history by exploring the quaint town of Znojmo, which is only a five-hour train from Prague. If you want to see the largest grapevine-growing region in the country, head to Velke Bilovice and taste the light and crisp wine that comes from the Muller-Thurgau grape varietal.