No longer reserved for society’s elite, wine tasting is rapidly growing in popularity as a vacation for people from all walks of life. For travellers looking for a getaway ripe with class and sophistication—but without the price tag to match—Hostelworld.com offers these options for “Wine Tasting on a Budget” in all corners of the globe.
Santiago, Chile's coveted wine capital, is located at the foothills of the soaring snow-capped Andes Mountains. The breathtaking landscape includes glacial lakes, volcanoes and endless vineyards. This region serves as a haven for those seeking fine red wines and traditional cuisine, while the people of Santiago are warm and friendly, welcoming visitors to experience all that the area has to offer. Wines from Santiago have a reputation for bold fruity tastes and affordable prices. The Aconcagua Valley is renowned for its Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Visitors who long to sip on crisp white wine can visit the Casablanca Valley, which produces Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc wines. Those in the mood for a sultry red wine should tour the Cachapoal Valley, known for producing Cabernets and Merlots. Travellers who fancy pairing fine wine with a little history should head over to the nearby Concha y Toro, one of the largest exporters of wine in Chile. Another wine region here, the Colchagua Valley, was named the best Wine Region of the World in Wine Enthusiast in 2005, which caused a stir because it was the first time the French and Italians had been beaten by South America.
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%IMAGE1-RIGHT%Tuscany offers picturesque scenery of rolling hills, colourful olive groves and miles of abundant vineyards that are known for their production of some of the best red wines in the world. This region, of which Florence is the capital, is renowned for its production of the traditional Chianti, Classicos and Rufinas. The wine culture in Tuscany has run deep for centuries making it the ideal location for a traditional and historical wine tasting tour. Those using Florence as their base are treated to the finest culinary dishes, treasured museums, historic villas and high fashion boutiques. However, those who are not travelling on a high-end budget should not despair. Florence has plenty to offer in the way of affordable entertainment, dining and accommodation.
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%IMAGE2-LEFT%Whether you're a novice or cognoscenti, there is something magical about getting up close to the grape vineyards of Sonoma Valley, just 45 minutes from San Francisco. With more than 250 wineries in a single region, Sonoma Valley is the one of the world's largest producers of wine. Like only a handful of places on earth, Sonoma Valley is blessed with exactly the right combination of soil, sun, seasonal moisture and geography for growing grapes of exceptional quality. As a result Sonoma Valley produces numerous fine wines. Often called the birthplace of the California wine industry, Sonoma Valley is home to vineyards planted as early as 1824. In this region, there are more than 13,000 acres of vineyards and more than 40 premium wineries, a number of them family owned and operated. Each winery has experienced staff who help visitors understand the wine making process from beginning to end and explain in detail how the planting of a vine can result in the wonderful nectar that is finally produced.
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%IMAGE3-RIGHT%Nestled in the northeast corner of South Island, this hilly and picturesque region is known for pairing its fantastic wines with gourmet food, such as fresh regional seafood or local lamb. As the largest producer of wine in New Zealand, Marlborough has made a significant impact on the "new world" wine scene. Free draining soils and warm growing conditions make this region perfect for wine production. Known for having more hours of sunshine than any other region in the world, the Marlborough region is home to one of the world’s most famous Sauvignon Blancs. In the laid back atmosphere of this region, visitors can savour the flavours of top-notch Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir and Methode Traditionelle sparkling wines while taking in the views off the rugged coastlines. Most of the wine produced in this region can be found in the fertile Wairau Valley where visitors can enjoy private, relaxed wine tours personalized to suit their needs and preferences.
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%IMAGE4-LEFT%For those looking for the sophistication of a wine tasting trip but still wishing to let loose at night, Stellensbosch, South Africa just might be the perfect getaway. Stellensbosch is recognized as the heart of South Africa’s wine industry, producing more than one billion litres each year. With more than 200 growers and producers as well as 106 cellars—most of which are open to the public—the true wine connoisseur will revel in the many tasting options available. When the sun sets and the vineyards close, Stellensbosch’s youthful and vivacious character comes to life. With a large student population and a virtually unlimited array of restaurants and pubs, Stellensboch provides the adventurous traveller with a variety of nightlife options rivalling that of any college town or metropolitan area.
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Angers is a small heritage town in the Loire Valley of France. Long known as "Black Angers" because of the gloomy-coloured slate and stone quarried here since the ninth century, it is actually a scenic, lively town with a friendly atmosphere. Angers is well-known for its annual Loire Valley Wine Fair which brings together 600 wine producers as well as thousands of retailers, importers and restaurateurs looking to augment their offerings. Known for its majestic royal chateaux and great red and white wines, the Loire Valley is a favourite destination for wine lovers. Visitors can relive some of the greatest moments of France’s history with royal castles like the Chaumont, Chenonceau or the impressive Chambord Castle all found here. Travellers can also treat themselves to the chic French shops and tours and tastings at the best wineries of the region like Vouvray, Chinon, Bourgeuil, Anjou or Savennières.
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