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9 Favorite Wine Tasting Regions from My Travels

9 Favorite Wine Tasting Regions from My Travels

Wine is so much more than what I am tasting in the glass. It evokes memories, awakens senses, forces you to live in the present, and is deeply tied to the land it comes from. Wine can tell you so much about a place and culture, which is why wine tasting is my favorite way to explore a new destination — whether traveling to a new city overseas or exploring a new wine region right in my backyard.

Below are ten wine regions that have inspired me to transform my love of wine from a hobby into a career.

6 International destinations for wine tasting

Duoro, Portugal

I didn’t think I was a fan of fortified wine prior to arriving in Portugal, but that quickly changed when I visited the city of Porto and toured the Douro Valley, tasting through the rich and layered Port wines. Popping into various port houses along the Douro River in Porto allowed us to take in the spectacular views of the city with tastings that always included cheese and chocolate pairings. What’s not to love about that?! What I especially enjoyed was the beauty of the Duroro Valley, with steep-sloped, terraced vineyards running alongside the Duoro River. In fact, the uniqueness of this wine region has earned its classification by UNESCO as a world heritage site.

Mendoza, Argentina

My husband and I visited Mendoza while backpacking through Argentina in 2012. I loved the fruit-forward Malbec from this region and the aromatic-driven Torrontes wines. The ambiance of this wine region really blew me away though. We toured Mendoza by bike, and all the places we visited for wine tasting were incredibly casual. The day we visited, the temperatures were hot and people were roaming up to the tasting rooms in swimsuits — it was a blast!

Rioja, Spain

I went wine tasting in Rioja with my family back in 2016 and immediately fell in love with this region — not only because of its delicious Tempranillo (which is one of my favorite varietals), but I admired how hospitable the locals were. At almost every vineyard, they treated us like royalty and greeted us with plates of Jamón ibérico, local cheese, and even homemade Spanish tortillas.

Southern Australia

Sipping the robust, fruity, and spicy Shiraz wines during my travels in Australia inspired me to make a Syrah for my wine brand, Flipturn Cellars. Visiting the Hunter Valley wine region was a highlight of my trip. I visited with friends that were living in Sydney and we rented a rustic cabin in wine country. It was one of my best travel memories to sip wine at sunset on the patio and watch Kangaroos play right in our backyard!

Tuscany, Italy

This wine region is hard to beat. It’s popular and famous for a reason. Not only are the Sangiovese-based wines coming out of Tuscany some of my all time favorites — Chianti, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and Brunello di Montalcino — but Tuscany has an incredible Italian food scene. We finished every day of wine tasting with a little gelato before bedtime. Need I say more?

Veneto, Italy

I visited the Veneto region this summer where I fell in love with the fruity and dry Valpolicella Ripasso wines. I also toured through the small lakefront commune of Verona, Bardolino, which was stunning. Bardolino overlooked Lake Garda and the Monte Baldo Mountain range. This region is famous for its Bardolino red wine, which is fresh, light-bodied, and full of bright red fruit aromas and flavors. It’s the perfect summer red wine.

3 Favorite domestic destinations for wine tasting:

Columbia Valley, Washington

If you’re a lover of big, robust red wines, the Columbia Valley in Washington has you covered. Not only does this warm and dry wine region (with 300 days of sunshine and just 6-8 inches of rainfall annually) have spectacular scenery, but wines from the Columbia Valley are beautifully aromatic and well-structured, with bright acidity and balanced tannins. I love this region so much that this is the third year that I have sourced fruit from the valley for my Flipturn Cellars production. If you ever visit, be sure to add the small AVA of Red Mountain to the list if you are a Cabernet lover!

Mendocino, California

If you’re not in the mood to travel to the more popular wine regions in California (like Napa and Sonoma), look no further than Mendocino. I found this cooler-climate region to be much less touristy and incredibly affordable. I also love the diversity of grape varietals grown here. I came home with numerous bottles of Barbera and Gewürztraminer from Navarro Vineyards that I’ve been using my Coravin System on recently. They are worth savoring and perfect for summer!

Willamette Valley, Oregon

Living in Portland (just an 1-hour from the Willamette Valley) has made me biased to this wine region, but it truly has some of the world’s best Pinot Noir wines. The Pinot Noirs are bursting with black cherry and Dr. Pepper notes and are uniquely earthy. I’m also obsessed with white wines from this region — Chardonnay, Riesling, and Pinot Gris.

I hope you add these places to your wine travel list and share your journeys with us on social media, @coravin and @barreldork. You won’t be disappointed.

About the author: After completing her WSET III Certification, Portland-based wine professional, Meg Rulli (she/her), decided to pursue her passion of winemaking. In 2020, she became a first-time female winemaker and just released her first vintage, a 2020 Columbia Valley Syrah. She continues to make small production, low intervention wines for her brand, Flipturn Cellars. In addition to winemaking, Meg has served as a tasting room associate at numerous wineries in Oregon, has been a tasting notes consultant for startup wineries, and is owner of the online wine brand, Barrel Dork (on Instagram as @barreldork) — the online community of zero snobbery wine education.