Winerist founder tips 2015's must-visit wine destinations

Diana Isac

Diana Isac

If the wintry weather is getting you down, check out this list of top five wine holidays for 2015 from Diana Isac, the co-founder and chief executive of wine and food trave website Winerist. Maybe it’s something to ask Santa for… How many can you tick off the list? 

At Winerist we have a real thirst for travel which is centred around meeting real people, experiencing the best wineries, meeting the winemakers, learning to cook with the locals and stays in authentic boutique hotels. The history, terroir and climate of the regions selected below makes them very special. There is something in there for the wine buff, the beginner and for the avid traveller who wants to go off the beaten track.  

Moldova has a royal secret

Very few will be able to point out the little, but picturesque Moldova on a map, and even fewer will know that it makes wine which has been enjoyed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Purcari Estate, now also available through Berry Brothers & Rudd, boasts a beautiful wine resort in the southern part of the country. Here, the locals love authentic, pure cuisine paired with rich, powerful red wines - the Negru de Purcari, also chosen by the royals, is a great example. Our 3 Day Wine Tour is filled with wine visits including a tour to the largest underground wine tunnel in the world - it spans over 120km and it has a collection of over 1 million bottles. The best times to visit are May and June and September and October. 

South Africa on my mind

Nothing beats a wine region where you can do whale watching, hike to Table Mountain and finish the day off with mouthwatering food. The fact that South Africa also produces great wines and has some the most scenic wineries makes it perfect. Colona Castle and its 8 luxurious suites offers the best sleep and breathtaking views over breakfast. Our Stellenbosch Food Tour is a good place to start your adventure and the Franschhoek Wine Experience will make a true South Africa wine enthusiast out of you. Best times to visit are Spring to October and November or the Autumn harvest season in April and May. Spend at least three days in the region to get to see all its facets.


Fancy staying at this Douro hotel overlooking the valley?

All eyes on the Douro Valley

In 1880 Henry Vizetelly, the great nineteenth century authority and writer on wine, wrote ‘there are as many styles of Port wine as shades of ribbon in a haberdasher’s shop.’ So if you are a Port lover, this is a great playground for you. Aside from Port, Douro produces delicious reds. Discover Fonseca, also known as the Margaux of Douro; this is a feminine wine which display a grace that never disappoints. The reds here combine freshness, aromatic layers of berry fruit flavours with a firm but unobtrusive tannic structure. Enjoy these by the pool in the summer and in by the fireplace in winter. This is a region which amazes in every season. Authentic, quiet night stays are available at Quinta da Veiga and a great way to enjoy the journey is on our Mateus Wine Tour.   

Tuscany off the beaten track

I left my heart with Paolo de Marchi at Isole e Olena this summer. At this winery you see what winemaking is truly about. Its intelligence, respect and love for terroir, passion for the region and its traditions, sharing the wine with loved ones. Paolo talks to his wines and he talks to his guests. He will take you by the hand, walk you around the property and you will never want to leave. Another all time favourite of mine is the visit at Querciabella. These wines are some of the best in Chianti and the team working here is dedicated, wise and beyond charming. Their wines reflect all of the above qualities. Our Chianti experience offers these visits exclusively. It’s perfect in the autumn and around Truffle Hunting season so you can enjoy both. 

Sonoma is US’s best kept secret

Somewhat overshadowed by neighbouring Napa,  beautiful Sonoma is one of the best wine and food destinations I have come across. This is tasting room paradise, wineries with open doors, organic food that tastes heavenly. Healdsburg has become a most loved destination for inhabitants of the Valleys. But it is great for wine lovers seeking quaint, family owned wineries which make superb wines. I particularly loved the Chardonnay at Stuhlmuller Vineyards. You cannot miss a visit to the Seghesio Winery either, breakfast at The Shed and our divine Food Tour. Sonoma is safe, boutique and friendly and it’s perfect in every season.

For off the beaten track wine travel and advice on your next trip, you can send an inquiry to Winerist.


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