There are numerous wine regions throughout the world that are within just a few hours’ drive of major metropolitan areas. Some are somewhat remote. Others have become very popular with tourists. Regardless, day trips are always a great idea if you’re staying in a city for more than a few days. On the one hand, they allow you the opportunity to explore the region, which is often breathtakingly beautiful; on the other hand, they allow you to learn about the produce and the local foods that give the city its culinary character. This is especially the case with wine. If you want to explore the region and fully understand both the culture and the terroir that go into making some of the most famous wines in the world, you should visit them for yourself. Of all the many cities from which you can depart for a day trip to wine country, these are the top 8.
The landscape just outside of Barcelona is idyllic, amazing and virtually without equal. You can travel to the sandy coast or venture into the mountains where you’ll see one of the most impressive landmarks in all of Spain: Montserrat. Yet another impressive destination just outside of Barcelona is the Catalunya region, which has been producing wine since the days of the Roman Empire. On top of reds and whites, this region is also where you’ll find several wineries that produce Cava, a Catalan sparkling wine. It is usually dry and more akin to Champagne than Prosecco.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires is one of the most sophisticated cities in South America. It combines the elegance of a world-class European city with a Latin flair that is as unique as it is intoxicating. On top of being home to the tango and some of the finest beef that money can buy, Buenos Aires is also renowned for its wines. Even a cursory glance at a wine list at a restaurant like the world famous El Querandi will show you that Argentina is home to more than just the Malbecs for which the country is so well known. Though traveling to the Mendoza Province, which produces nearly two-thirds of the nation’s wine, is perhaps a little longer than a day trip, it is most certainly worth it if you're staying in the country for more than a week.
Cape Town, South Africa
The area surrounding Cape Town is one of the finest places in all of Africa for viticulture, as well as a gorgeous place to visit. Driving just half an hour drive from the city and you’ll find yourself immersed in a region with a rich heritage of winemaking that dates back to 1600s. However, this is not to say that you will only taste traditional wines here. True, the town of Stellenbosch remains one of the hubs for Cape wine tourism largely because of its stellar reputation and reverence for the past, but the Swartland Municipality, which is just a few dozen miles north of Stellenbosch, has recently become known for its ambition and creativity, as well as the Swartland Revolution, an annual wine festival that celebrates idiosyncratic vintners. If you happen to be in town when this event is going on, you should probably get tickets.
The Tuscan countryside is considered one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Coupled with its rich culinary tradition and exquisite vineyards, it’s no wonder why so many people flock to the Tuscan hills every year. Within twenty minutes from downtown Florence, you can be in this gorgeous landscape, enjoying a glass of Chianti as you make your way toward the picturesque cities of San Gimignano and Sienna. Though Tuscany is known for its reds, you should also keep in mind that there are several distinguished whites produced in the region, such as Bianco di Bolgheri and Bianco di Pitigliano.
The French countryside possesses an allure that is difficult to resist. More than just a landscape that proved captivating enough to inspire painters like Monet and Van Gogh, this is where some of the best produce in the world is grown and harvested. It is the land of fine meats, fine cheese and, of course, fine wine. While there are numerous wine regions that you can reach from Paris within a day, one of the most famous is Champagne. If you can only get to one, this should probably be it. Honestly, who can turn down the chance to explore the city of Rheims and enjoy a few glasses of bubbly?
San Francisco, California
There are very few wine regions in America that have the prestige of Sonoma and Napa Valley. The locales, which can be reached very easily from San Francisco, have become so popular that they are virtually synonymous with excellent American wine—particularly Cabernet Sauvignons and Chardonnays. On top of producing some of America’s best wines, the landscape is regarded as a national treasure in itself.
Chile is particularly well known for their Cabernet Sauvignons, Merlots and Carménères—the latter being a grape that is particularly popular in the nation’s Central Valley, which is where Santiago is located. While Chile has become one of the largest exporters of wine in the world in recent years due to the increase in the number of wineries, some of the classic wine producing estates are the most fun to visit. The Concha y Toro Winery, for example, is just an hour outside of downtown Santiago. Taking a tour of this facility includes a tasting, as well as a chance to explore the property's mansion and majestic gardens.
While the Sydney Opera House may be the most famous man-made landmark in all of Australia, Hunter Valley Gardens is not too far behind. This attraction is great for kids and nature-lovers, but a trip to the valley will also land you in one of the world’s most highly esteemed regions for producing fine bottles of Shiraz, Chardonnay and Semillon. While the valley feels like it is halfway to the most remote parts of the Outback, you can reach several wineries in Hunter Valley from Sydney is approximately an hour. Here you can take a tour of any one of the over fifty wineries in the vicinity and enjoy the bucolic scenery for which Hunter Valley is so famous.