Wine tourism has enjoyed a rapid growth in popularity in recent years. Here we look at three top destinations to give you a taste of what to expect. Cheers!

The Douro Valley in Northern Portugal

The first wine region in the world to be demarcated back in 1756, and the first again to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001, the Douro Valley is where port is produced. It is also home to some excellent, but much less widely known, red wines.

Many quintas (estates) open their doors to visitors and port tasting (usually including white port, tawny, ruby and sometimes vintage) is available pretty much everywhere, but the best place is probably Vintage House Hotel in Pinhão (website: the onsite Wine Academy offers a range of tastings, from a basic introduction to a specialist option, as well as a port and chocolate gourmet tasting, a port and food tasting, and various wine courses for those wanting to learn more about wine-making, grape varieties and so on.

If you fancy stretching your legs in some of the vineyards, the Quinta do Panascal in Valença do Douro (website: is a grade A winery which has a good audio tour in eight languages. This is a great way to learn about local grape varieties, the history of port and port making while enjoying the scenery.

The valley itself, with its undulating hills and terraced vineyards, is beautiful. Stay at the pretty Quinta Nova in Covas do Douro (website:, high up on the hills for unforgettable views. This old estate is now a charming eco-friendly hotel that offers a range of activities to guests, from guided wine tours and wine tasting to escorted walks and bicycle hire, as well as a well stocked wine library and wine bar. They put on a special harvest programme in September.

Take a boat trip on the river, another delightful way to explore the region. Choose from a short cruise or a day-long trip that will take you all the way back to Porto. It is possible to do the trip by train one way, and return by boat (or the other way round) (website:

The Marlborough Region in New Zealand

New Zealand is famous for its Sauvignon Blanc, and the place to go to find the best examples of this crisp, grassy white wine is in picturesque Marlborough, the country's largest wine producing region, an area that boasts some striking scenery, as well as an excellent array of activities, from whale watching and hiking to kayaking and fishing.

The Montana Brancott Winery visitor centre (website: near Blenheim was the first wine tourism attraction to open in Marlborough in 2000. Here visitors can join a guided tour to learn more about the wine making process, sample some of Montana's latest releases, dine in the stylish restaurant, and of course buy something to take home from the well stocked shop.

New Zealand takes its food seriously, and many wineries also have a restaurant on site serving excellent cuisine paired with their own wines. The award-winning Herzog Restaurant (website: is a bit of an institution locally and well worth checking out (open October to May only, reservations essential).

There are plenty of food and wine festivals too, and the biggest in the region is the Wine Marlborough Festival (website:, now in its 25th year, held at Brancott Estate in February - it features 200 wines from over 40 local wineries.

Stellenbosch Wine Route in South Africa

Wine tourism is well established in the Western Cape. Today there are several wine routes covering the Winelands to the east of Cape Town, the most famous ones being Constantia, Paarl, Franschhoek and Stellenbosch. The Stellenbosch Wine Route (website:, established in 1971, was in fact South Africa's first wine route, and 36 years on, it is now one of the major attractions in the region, drawing tens of thousands of visitors every year.

This picturesque corner of South Africa is not only within easy reach of Cape Town, it also boasts a unique landscape, a rich local historical and cultural heritage, and a good variety of leisure activities. And Stellenbosch is the birthplace of South Africa's very own grape variety - Pinotage, so the best place to try something uniquely South African, although many other grape varieties (and not just red ones) do very well here too.

The route is divided into five sub-routes, each with its own characteristics, reflecting the amazing variety of soil types and terrain in the region. Over 130 wineries are included, which should keep even the most dedicated wine aficionados busy for a few days at least. Several companies specialise in organising private wine tours/guide (not a bad idea after all that wine tasting!). Check the tourist office's website for more information.

One very special winery in Stellenbosch is Bouwland (website: South Africa alone boasts 50% of the world's fair-trade certified wine grape producers, and Bouwland Wines is one of the biggest black economic empowerment ventures in the country, with farm workers holding the majority of shares in the project, and some 40 families working on the farm benefit directly from this initiative. A fascinating insight into how things have changed in the country in the past decade, and a true success story for the local community.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.