Santiago is the perfect place for wine lovers to visit due to the proximity of so many wine regions to the city. Just an hour and a half west of Santiago toward the coast lie the Casablanca and San Antonio Valley wine regions. In October, I had the chance to visit both regions. Two wineries stood out not only with the quality of their wine and their idyllic settings but also because they proved convention wrong when it comes to cool climate wines.
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When I planned my recent trip to Chile, my heart was set on the wine country and the coast. I wasn’t too excited about visiting Santiago. But because I was paying for most of the trip using points, I decided to stay in Santiago for a few nights as the rates were lower and I could maximize my points. The city really surprised me and I left wanting to lure all fellow wine lovers south.
Here are a few of the reasons why wine lovers will fall hard for the city:
THE VIEW AT THIS WINERY WITHIN CITY LIMITS.
I’ve been to wineries all over the world, places as stunning as Santorini and the Douro Valley. My jaw dropped when I walked through the gates of Viña Aqutania. There is truly nothing quite like sitting among the wines and gazing up at the massive Andes mountains towering over the vineyards in the distance. I was surprised how close the mountains seemed, like you could just reach out and touch them, a glass of wine in hand.
While there is plenty to see in Tokyo, the largest city in the world can be overwhelming at times. An escape is essential. Luckily for visitors, thanks to Japan’s extensive rail network, day trips from Tokyo are easy and most are affordable. When my husband and I visited Tokyo this summer, I knew I wanted to spend at least one day outside of the bustling city in order to get a more authentic feel for Japan. I considered going to Kamakura, a seaside town so full of temples that some call it a mini-Kyoto, or Hakone for a close-up view of Mt. Fuji and day in the mountains and onsens. But, ultimately, my love for visiting wine regions all over the world won out and I chose to visit Katsunuma.
The Katsunuma wine region is only a 90-minute train ride from Tokyo but feels worlds away. About halfway into the train ride the buildings suddenly disappear as you enter the gorgeous countryside full of lush green hills and mountains. When you arrive at the train station, you’ll immediately see vineyards ahead and will be in awe of the landscape.
About an hour north of Vienna and two hours south of Prague lies one of the Czech Republic’s best-kept secrets. The Moravian wine region is relatively unknown outside of Austria and the Czech Republic by anyone other than sommeliers. It’s directly on the driving route between the two famous capitals, yet most travelers opt to fly and miss out on this remarkable place full of historic charm, authentic culture, gorgeous vistas, and spectacular wine. It’s the perfect breath of fresh air between the bustling cities.
The Monticello wine region is one of the first wine regions I fell in love with (second to the Mosel Valley in Germany). Located in the Charlottesville area, it’s a gorgeous region of rolling hills and mountains. I first visited at age 21 and it lured me back for a few return trips during my senior year of college in DC. When I moved to North Carolina, I knew I had to go back to see how the region had changed. Seven years and many wine tastings later I returned to find that the wine has only improved and the beauty of the landscape and charm of Charlottesville are still intact.
Whether you’re traveling with a significant other or group of friends, the Monticello Wine Region makes for a perfect weekend escape. Here’s why:
South Africa has long been at the top of my bucket list. Whether you dream of seeing the “big five” (lion, elephant, buffalo, rhino, & leopard), basking on the beach with penguins gazing at the mountains surrounding the water, sipping wine at one of the many vineyards within an hour of Cape Town, or simply exploring the rich culture of the city – South Africa has something to lure in every traveler.
The scenery, wildlife, vineyards, and beautiful city of Cape Town are a feast for the eyes. Below are ten photographs that will ignite your wanderlust for this majestic country.
It’s impossible to have a bad trip to the magical island of Santorini.
Even if all you do is sit cliffside and soak in the views, you’ll have an amazing trip. Just being there, Santorini is breathtaking and will most certainly capture your heart. (You can find out why it’s my favorite place in the world here).
That said, there is plenty to do in Santorini. Here are some ways to make any trip to Santorini unforgettable.
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.
One of the most striking characteristics of the wine villages in Burgundy is that practically every other building in town is a domaine or a vigneron -- a winery in U.S. terms. In Meursault, where I stayed, there are over 50 wine producers in the tiny village alone. When you add to that all of the wineries from the neighboring villages, the choice of where to visit can be overwhelming.
My family and I visited in early March, which is considered the “off season” in Burgundy. Some wineries were not open when we visited. However, the silver lining to traveling then was that most of our winery visits ended up being private tours. Having the winemaker give you a tour and tasting of his or her domaine is an incredible experience.
The wineries that I am highlighting below are all smaller, mostly family domaines in the Côte de Beaune, one of the five wine growing areas in Burgundy. While we did drop by a few of the larger wineries, I highly recommend the small wineries as they give a more personal and rewarding tour and tasting experience.
Below are my personal favorite winery visits from my time in Burgundy.
Imagine biking smack in the middle of fields upon fields of vineyards. In the distance lies a picture-perfect fairytale town with a church steeple perched high above the houses. The path behind you leads to an equally charming town taken from the pages of a storybook. The hillside on your right is filled with the grand cru vines, which bear some of the most expensive grapes in the world. To your left are the village grapes that create surprisingly different wines as you move from one village's plot to the next.
I just returned from a fabulous week in the Burgundy wine region with my husband and parents. We ate delicious three-course meals for lunch and dinner (plus tons of cheese & baguettes!), explored centuries-old wine caves, biked through the vineyards from one tiny town to the next, and drank glasses upon glasses of the best wine in the world.
We stayed in the most amazing VRBO house rental in the village of Meursault. We were surrounded by vineyards on all sides, had a huge patio with a hot tub overlooking the vines, and could stroll into town in minutes. It was perfect.
While I am sorting through the unforgettable memories we made, here is a little glimpse into some of my favorite moments and the quaint French town that captured my heart.
My husband, a self-proclaimed foodie, calls San Sebastian his favorite European city. Situated at the northeast edge of the Basque region in Spain, the Basque influence on the city makes San Sebastian a unique gem in Europe. The culture has an interesting mix of both Spanish and Basque traditions.
The appeal of the city is expansive, but it may be most well-known for its food. Below are five reasons why San Sebastian is a food lover’s paradise.