I’ve mentioned before that visiting a wine region is the best way to see Europe. Not only will you experience amazing wine and food, but staying in a countryside wine town will also give you a true taste of the country’s culture and history.
While there are hundreds of European wine regions to visit and even more beautiful towns, below I’ve picked four towns in the top four wine-producing countries in Europe that are sure to capture any wine lover’s heart.
Meursault is picture perfect village in the middle of the famous Burgundy wine region. The entire town is walkable and practically every other door leads to a different winery, or domaine as they call them in France. In peak tourist season when all of the wineries are open, you could easily spend a whole week tasting wine from the different domaines without leaving the town. If you want to venture outside of town, a ten-minute bike ride through the vineyards will take you to a neighboring village where you’ll find even more wineries! This wine town is best for lovers of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the two Burgundian grapes.
Barolo is a hill-top village nestled in the Piedmont wine region of northern Italy. While most people flock to Tuscany, many wine experts insist that Piedmont is home to Italy’s best wine. Like Meursault, the village of Barolo is also quite small. You can walk from one end to the other in about 30 minutes and to multiple wineries from the city center. The most famous wines of Piedmont, Barolo and Barbaresco, are made from the Nebbiolo grape. However, there are many other varieties grown in the region and venturing outside of the town of Barolo will give you a more expansive tasting of Piedmont wines.
Haro is the wine capital of the world-renowned Rioja wine region. Accessible by train from Madrid and Bilbao, it’s the best Rioja town to visit if you don’t have a car. Many of the famous Rioja wineries are headquartered here, allowing you to get an authentic feel for the region’s wine without leaving town. If you do have a car, the charming walled village of Laguardia is only 25 minutes away. Rioja is famous for robust red wines made from the Tempranillo grape, though you’ll also find some white blends made from the Viura and Malvasia grapes.
The town of Cochem is straight out of a fairytale. It sits on the banks of the Mosel river, but perched high above the town is a gorgeous castle. The town is located in the famous Mosel Valley wine region where Riesling is the chief grape varietal. You’ll find a few wineries, called Weinguts, within walking distance from the center of town that offer generous free tastings. If you visit Cochem, you’ll want to make sure to leave town to experience a boat ride down the river. You’ll be mesmerized by the number of castles overlooking the sloping vineyards – each one is as stunning as the last.