We’ve listed Wine Folly’s top 10 wine producing countries in the world, the wine grapes they grow and the wine regions that have made the 2019 top ten list of Wine Pair and Forbes.
The top 3 wine producing countries known for their wine regions are France, Italy, and Spain. They produce almost half of all the wine produced in the world. However, seven other countries also produce wine and have famed wine regions as well and are definitely worth visiting in 2019.
Call Damon’s Getaways today to plan your next wine lover’s vacation and enjoy all that the wine regions of the world have to offer. Several tour operators offer wine tours of these regions and we will be happy to match you with the region and wine tour that suits your tastes so you can get to toasting to some of finest wines in the world!
While France and Italy compete for the top wine production region of the world they are also reducing wine production every year. Major Grapes: Merlot, Grenache, Trebbiano Toscano, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Gamay, and Sauvignon Blanc.
Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux, France – No. 3 wine region to visit: Forbes
Known for its deep-colored and full-bodied red wines, Saint Émilion is one the most historic wine towns in the Bordeaux region. Its major tourist attractions include Les Cordeliers – a rustic winery that stands amidst the ruins of a 14th-century Franciscan monastery. Les Cordeliers has been producing sparkling Crémant de Bordeaux wine in its ancient cellars for more than a century. Other must-visit wineries include the remarkable Château Coutet and Château Troplong Mondot. You can also learn about the basics of wine tasting at the Maison du Vin of Saint-Emilion Wine School. The sessions take place daily from mid-July to end of August and on Saturdays from April to November. Best time to visit: April and May.
Provence, France – No. 3 wine region to visit: Wine Pair
Rosé. All. Day. Drink in the hottest trend of 2018 (and, by all estimates, 2019, too) in its geographic and cultural apex. The leading vines for rosé production are firmly rooted in the soils of southern France’s Provence region and there’s nowhere better to enjoy the light and refreshing wine than on the very shores from which it hails.
A patchwork of lavender fields stretching from the Rhône River to the Italian border, Provence has picturesque seaside and mountains and more than 400 vineyards. Wineries such as Château de Berne and Domaine de Fontenille pair blush pink tastings with local fine cuisine.
The old port city of Marseille is a vibrant base camp. It’s home to the three-Michelin-starred, Le Petit Nice, celebrated for its multi-course tasting menu based entirely around the city’s most famous dish: bouillabaisse. The family-run establishment (which recently celebrated its centenary) also offers luxury accommodations in the form of two boutique five-star villas. Yes, you are here for rosé but don’t even think about leaving the city without sampling local-favorite pastis, on the rocks with ice-cold mineral water.
Nearby Arles provides a quieter alternative. Check out the Foundation Vincent Van Gogh and Musée Réattu, or head to the Musée de l’Arles Antique and Museon Arlaten for ancient artifacts. (Arles has a more than 2000-year history, with original Roman ruins still scattered throughout the city.)
Italy may be second to France, but there is a growing trend in both countries to remove vineyards. Major Grapes Sangiovese, Montepulciano, Merlot, Trebbiano Toscano, Nero d’Avola, Barbera, Pinot Grigio, and Prosecco.
Piedmont, Italy – No. 6 wine region to visit in 2019: Forbes
Piedmont is one of the three classic wine regions of Italy. Its magnificent vineyards produce two of the world’s finest red wines – Barolo and Barbaresco. Winemakers to visit include Azienda Agricola Taliano Michele, Paolo Manzone, Cantina Mascarello Bartolo and Cantina del Glicine (do try their award-winning Barbaresco and intense Nebbiolo vintages). Those traveling with their families might want to check out Isolobella Della Croce. Visitors can enjoy lunch picnics at the estate’s winery and sample cheeses and cold cuts. Best time to visit: April to mid-July or late August to October.
Spain is home to the largest vineyard acreage in the world. Despite this fact, Spain also has much lower wine yields than neighboring France and Italy resulting in less total wine. Major Grapes: Tempranillo, Airén, Garnacha, Monastrell, and Bobal.
La Rioja, Spain – No. 10 wine region to visit in 2019: Forbes
Dotted with castles, cathedrals and quaint wine towns producing a variety of full-bodied reds, La Rioja is every vino lover’s paradise. Ancient Romans introduced wine to the Spanish region. The tradition of winemaking has been intrinsically woven into the cultural fabric of La Rioja ever since. You can sip exquisite wines at traditional vineyards like Bodegas Muga and Bodegas López de Heredia or visit more Avante Garde ones like Bodegas Marques de Riscal and Bodega Ysios. Also, it would be remiss to not visitVivanco Museum of Wine Culture in Briones, South of Haro. The renowned museum covers everything from the history of making and serving wine to flavor profiling. Best time to visit: Fall harvest season in late September. Or, you could visit in late June to experience the wine-splashing madness of the Batalla del Vino during the Haro Wine festival.
Sherry Triangle, Spain – No. 1 wine region to visit in 2019: Wine Pair
El Marco de Jerez, a.k.a. the Sherry Triangle is situated a one-hour train ride south of Seville, in a sun-soaked corner of Andalusia. Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, and El Puerto de Santa María are the three cities which define the triangle’s borders, and all of the region’s sherry blending and aging takes place in bodegas (wineries) within them.
The name sherry is actually an anglicization of Jerez, the inland city that has some of the most well-known sherry bodegas. Tío Pepe is one example, located a short walk from the city’s central square, La Plaza del Arenal. The bodega has a list of tour options, including a one-and-a-half-hour tour and tasting, a biking tour of local vineyards, and a ‘deluxe’ tour, which incorporates vineyard and bodega visits with breakfast and a paired lunch.
With a focus on aged sherries, Bodegas Tradición promises to satisfy aficionados’ palates, while the collection of Spanish art work adorning its walls (including paintings by Picasso, El Greco, Goya, Velásquez, and Zurbarán) is museum-worthy.
The coastal town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda hosts the perfect conditions for producing manzanilla, a mineral-rich dry sherry that pairs perfectly as an aperitif with green olives and Marcona almonds. Like Jerez, Sanlúcar has several bodegas to visit (such as Barbadillo, Bodegas Hidalgo La Gitana, and Bodega Hijos de Rainera Pérez Marín). Casa Bigote, the city’s most-renowned seafood-only restaurant, pairs exceptional manzanilla and more with local sea fare. And don’t leave without dropping in on world-famous Bodegas Osborne in El Puerto de Santa María.
90% of wine from the United States is from California. California is home to the world’s largest wine producer, Gallo, in Modesto, CA. Major Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and Sauvignon Blanc.
Napa Valley, CA,-No. 7 wine region to visit in 2019: Forbes.
If you’re a novice wine buff then Napa’s the place to go. Many wineries like Alpha Omega, O’Brien Estate Winery, Black Stallion and Chateau Montelena offers numerous tasting and tour experiences to walk you through the process of winemaking and flavor profiling. The Cairdean Estate in St. Helena is also highly recommended for its contemporary tasting room that offers more than 20 different wines. Cabernet Sauvignon enthusiasts should check out vineyards like Silver Oak, Corison, and Inglenook. Visitors can also explore the wine region by boarding the Napa Valley Wine Train or go for a winery to winery guided bike tour through Napa’s best. Best time to visit: Late August to October.
Argentina continues to grow their wine production year after year resulting in the highest growth rate (8%) of the top 5 wine producers in the world. Argentina relies on wine exports. Major Grapes: Malbec, Bonarda, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Mendoza – No. 1 wine region in Argentina: Wine Folly
Mendoza is the most important wine region in Argentina, responsible for producing nearly 80% of the country´s grapes and home to nearly 395,000 acres of vineyards.
The city itself is nestled up against the Andes foothills on the western edge of Argentina. Its winemaking roots reach back to the 1500’s, and its industry has a fascinating history of adaptation, innovation, and improbable progress given the ups and downs of the Argentine government. With a population of largely Italian, Spanish and French immigrants, Argentina largely produced wine for its national population. However, in the 90’s the wine industry did a 180 turn and started to compete on the international stage. Though Malbec is the grape that put Mendoza on the world map, winemakers from this region are working hard to demonstrate that Argentina is no one-grape wonder.
Domaine St. Diego is a family-owned “garage” winery located in the Lunlunta region of Maipu. The owner and enologist, Angél Mendoza, is a locally renowned and internationally beloved personality who takes particular joy in sharing his wines and presenting his uniquely diverse, partially-terraced vineyard that contains a number of different training styles as well as an olive orchard.
The third generation of a century-old winemaking family established Pulenta Estate, located the Alto Agrelo region of Luján de Cuyo. The winery is recognized for its Cabernet Franc that sings out green bell pepper as well as its innovative winemaking equipment.
La Rural is one of the oldest wineries in Mendoza, founded by the Rutini family in 1885, and is home to one of the region´s only wine museums. It holds over 5,000 artifacts from Mendoza´s winemaking history and, for that reason, is the most visited winery in the country.
Carmelo Patti, a winemaker at El Lagar Winery located in Luján de Cuyo, makes incredible artisan wines out of his garage-like winery. This highly-praised, humble Italian winemaker is responsible for some of the best Cabernet Sauvignon in the region. When he isn´t off traveling, he´ll take you around the winery himself and chat for hours on end.
Catena Zapata is frankly, postcard-worthy. Styled after a Mayan Pyramid, Catena is a leader in the Argentine wine industry and an internationally recognized name. Nicholas Catena was a pioneer in the industry and, in the early ’90s, led the revolution to create quality wines at high elevation. He was among the first to plant vines in what is today the prestigious Uco Valley.
Achaval Ferrer Winery was founded in 1998 by a group of friends from Italy and Argentina, including Santiago Achaval and Roberto Cipresso. This high-quality winery focuses on the nuances of single vineyard Malbec – an excellent stop if you want to learn the taste of Mendoza terroir.
Australia relies primarily on the wine export market. Since the US dollar has weakened, Australia is expanding its wine marketing in Hong Kong and Asia. Major Grapes: Shiraz (Syrah), Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Gris.
Barossa Valley, Australia – No. 5 wine region to visit in 2019: Forbes
The splendid vineyards of Barossa Valley are famous for producing some of Australia’s finest Rieslings and bold Shiraz wines. You can enjoy a game of croquet followed by wine tasting in the grand barrel room of Château Tanunda. Or, you can sip Mediterranean varietals like Montepulciano, Sangiovese, and Tempranillo at the rustic Pindarie Wine. Other notable wineries include Thorne-Clarke, Grant Burge and Seppetsfield (you can even taste wine from your birth year here). For more artistic wine enthusiasts, Penfold’s winemaking lab offers visitors a chance to blend their own vintage using Grenache, Shiraz, and Mataro. Bonus, you get to take your creation home! Best time to visit: February and March.
Tasmania, Australia – No. 6 wine region to visit in 2019: Wine Pair
A 25,000-square-mile state 150 miles off the south coast of Australia, Tasmania garners international attention for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and produces some of the country’s leading sparkling wines. Emerging Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Gris plantings prove the versatility of the terroir in Australia’s southernmost state.
Almost all Tasmanian wineries offer tours and tastings, though it’s a good idea to call in advance. See Pooley Wines and Freycinet Vineyards for the region’s leading Rieslings, Domaine A for Sauvignon Blanc (and intriguing Cabernets), and Derwent Estate for über-hip, skin-contact Pinot Gris.
German wine is known for its aromatic white wines. German wines are exported primarily to the US and UK. Major Grapes: Riesling, and Müller-Thurgau.
Moselle Valley, Germany – No. 9 wine region to visit in 2019: Forbes
Majestic castles, rolling hills, and a placid river – Moselle Valley’s scenic beauty alone is enough to intoxicate anyone. Add some delicious wine to the mix and the result is pure magic. The Moselle region produces some of the best Rieslings in the world. For excellent pours and picture-perfect surroundings visit Weingut Willi Schaefer, Weingut Van Volxen and Weingut Clemens Busch. Weingut Vollenweider is also highly recommended because of their dry and sweet Rieslings. Hikers would love Calmont-Klettersteig – the steepest vineyards in Europe. Oenophiles should also hit up Mosel Weinmuseum to learn more about the history of wine and vineyards in the Moselle region. Plus, you get to sample 160 different kinds of wine! Best time to visit: July to August or September to October.
South Africa has long been known for its Chenin Blanc and produces the largest volume of Brandy in the world. Major Grapes: Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinotage, and Chardonnay.
Franschhoek, South Africa – No. 2 wine region to visit in 2019: Forbes
Nestled amidst the towering mountains in the heart of Cape Winelands, Franschhoek is a dream destination for wine connoisseurs. Founded by French Huguenots in 1688, the picturesque village is draped with vineyards where you can enjoy a range of exquisite wines (think full-bodied reds like Pinot Noir and Shiraz and whites like Chardonnay and Semillon). Notable vineyards include Chamonix, Allée Bleue, La Motte, and Solms-Delta. You can also take one of the popular food and wine tours that cover everything from grape picking and wine tasting to chocolate making and olive tasting. Best time to visit: September to February.
Chile is proud of the red wine variety Carmenere, known as the ‘lost varietal’ of Bordeaux. Still, export markets demand traditional varieties. Major Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Carménère, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc.
Elqui Valley, Chili – No. 4 wine region to visit in 2019: Wine Pair
Situated 300 miles north of the capital, Santiago, the Elqui Valley runs from the Pacific coastal city of La Serena to the Andes Mountain range and Argentine border. The country’s northernmost wine region makes expressive varietal wines from Carménère, Sauvignon Blanc, and Syrah. It’s also Chile’s leading pisco-producing region.
In the heart of the valley lies the village of Pisco Elqui. With a number of hotels and pisco distilleries and close access to the valley’s nearby wineries, it’s the best location to plan your visit around. But a two-hour bus ride to the nearest airport in La Serena, or a five-hour drive to Santiago, means that careful planning before visiting is advisable.
Choose Casona Distance for a romantic hotel break, or consider Refugio La Frontera and Elqui Domos, which each have private observatories. Check in advance that the region’s premier wineries, Viña Falernia and Cavas del Valle, are receiving guests during your stay, likewise with pisquerías Aba Distillery, Pisco Mistral, Fundo Los Nichos, and the Capel Distillery in nearby Vicuña.
Portugal is known for Port wine, a high alcohol dessert wine from northern Portugal made by blending several grape varieties. Major Grapes: Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), Touriga Franca, Castelão, Touriga Nacional, Alicante Bouschet, Alvarinho, and Arinto.
Douro Valley, Portugal – No. 1 to wine region to visit in 2019: Forbes
Located a few hundred miles from the city of Porto, this scenic UNESCO World Heritage site boasts of idyllic 18th and 19th-century Quintas (wine estates) and stone-terraced vineyards that rise above the meandering Douro River. Romans introduced vines to the Duoro Valley back in the third century A.D after the conquest of the Iberian peninsula. Other than the world-famous Port, Duoro Valley is also known for producing the popular Vinho Verde white wine. In addition, some smaller Quintas also serve lesser-known table wines made from indigenous grape varieties like Alfrocheiro. Visitors can go for guided tours and tasting at historic wineries like Quinta da Pacheca, Quinta de La Rosa and Quinta das Carvalhas. You can also sip some of the finest Portuguese pours at Quinta de Guimaraes, Quinta do Bomfim and Quinta do Crasto. Alternatively, visitors can hop on a wine cruise to explore the stunning region on water. Best time to visit: Late September or early October.