For wine lovers looking to explore their passion, there‘s no shortage of outstanding options for wine-drinking holidays and tours. The very nature of the world’s best wine-growing regions ensures that the scenery is stunning, the way of life is laid back, and the cuisine is something to behold.
In fact, wine regions are such good holiday destinations, it would be a shame to restrict them just to those with a passion for the grape. Here we look at two contrasting wine regions, the old world of Bordeaux in France, versus the new world of Napa Valley, California, and assess their various merits as classic wine destinations.
Both locations provide stunning natural scenery, Napa’s rolling hillside vineyards giving way to the towering Mayacamas Mountains to the north and the Vaca Mountains to the east. Take a drive between the valleys and you’ll be rewarded by outstanding views.
The historic towns and villages dotted across the Bordeaux landscape hint at the ancient traditions associated with this region. A trip round the winding lanes snaking through the vineyards provides breathtaking scenery around every corner.
Towns and cities
The Bordeaux region is brimming with history, and the area is littered with ancient towns and monuments. The city of Bordeaux itself is a must-visit attraction, with great restaurants and fascinating architecture galore, there’s plenty to explore.
The Bordeaux region also finds itself blessed with some of the most charming towns in France. Saint-Émilion, nestling on a hillside amongst ancient vineyards, is one of the most beautiful, and offers guided tours of its many local chateaus.
Napa Valley is sparsely populated compared to its French counterpart, the small towns and cities giving way to the beauty of the natural environment. The city of Napa is the largest in the region, but for a slice of proper American city culture, San Francisco, only an hour’s drive away and over the famous Golden Gate Bridge, is the place to go.
Napa Valley was voted the world’s best wine and food region in 2010 by TripAdvisor, cementing it as a destination of choice for the discerning gastronaut. Yountville, in the heart of Napa County, is noted as having the highest concentration of Michelin-star restaurants in the US, and the jewel in the crown is Thomas Keller’s French Laundry, voted amongst the best restaurants in the world.
Bordeaux is similarly teeming with great restaurants, and is known as a top destination for seasoned diners. La Tupina has been voted the “best bistro in the world”, and situated right in the heart of historic Bordeaux city, it promises an authentically gallic gastronomic experience.
Wine tasting experiences
The Napa Valley region caters for tourists extensively, and the Napa Valley wine train is a must for any enthusiast. The train provides a three-hour tour of the area, with top quality lunch and wine provided, as you sit back and enjoy the view. Also on offer are special wine tours, with the train stopping off at various local wineries, giving you the opportunity to really get to know this fascinating region and its wine history.
The Bordeaux region has plenty to explore and many of the local chateaus are open to the public. Day tours of the many places of interest give you access to some of the finest wine producers in the world, from Médoc in the west to the Entre-Deux-Mers appellations in the east of the region.
Featured image by tibchris