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Saturday, August 12, 2017

Wine may be a staple at your dinner table, but if you enjoy sipping your wine with a view, Pearl Mathias lists a few scenic vineyards across the globe that you must visit

If a glass of red can help you escape the stress and monotony of the world, a trip to a vineyard would be even more exhilarating. If you’ve followed the TV series Cougar Town, you’ll know how important a role a glass of wine (or three) plays in everyday life. Films like Under the Tuscan Sun have helped us escape to these gorgeous locales, albeit in spirit, but although we’re content with chugging down a few glasses of store-bought wine, we’d readily trade it for a trip to some of the most gorgeous vineyards and wineries across the world.

Just the thought of swirling freshly produced or aged wine — whichever you prefer — as you take in the scenic sunset on your wine trail, is comforting. But, apart from simply producing some of the world’s best wines, several vineyards have also made it to our list of most picturesque in the world. Wine connoisseurs and wine lovers alike are sure to be captivated by the splendid views and wines they have to offer.

Lavaux vineyards, Switzerland

The Lavaux vineyard terraces stretch for about 30 kilometres along the northern shores of Lake Geneva from the Chateau de Chillon to eastern Lausanne in the Vaud region. In fact, they are so extensive that they are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The vine terraces, criss-crossed in a breathtaking mosaic pattern and with stunning views of the lake and the Alps, can be traced back to the 11th century when Benedictine and Cistercian monasteries ruled over the area. Generations of vine-growers have shaped these beautiful vineyard terraces, and they invite visitors to explore the beauty of the vineyards, no matter what the season. There are also various wine tastings held in the vineyard wine cellars, so you can sample a glass as you stroll through the vineyards.

Hunawihr, France

Described as one of the most charming areas of Alsace, Hunawihr is home to one of the greatest white wines of the world, the Clos Sainte Hune from the Trimbach winery. A gorgeous 14th century church, the Church of St. Jacques le Majeur, overlooks the vineyards. The wine-producing village is composed of wine-growers’ houses with little narrow courtyards opening on to the street. If you’re planning a trip here, there are several restaurants as well as bed-and-breakfast rooms to settle in during your stay, and many vine growers offer visits to their cellars for wine tastings.

Napa Valley, USA

Situated in the state of California, Napa Valley is known as the land of grand estates, expansive tasting rooms, quaint towns and elegant lodgings. Boasting more than 400 wineries, Napa Valley was thrust into the global spotlight and put on the map in 1976, when a Chateau Montelena Chardonnay from Calistoga beat nine Chardonnays in a blind tasting in Paris. Although any time is a good time to make a trip to Napa Valley, each season has a charm of its own. With spring turning the hillside a majestic green with several layers of mustard bloom and summer packing on the tourists due to events and festivals, fall is when you’ll see the vineyards bustling with workers, while winter brings a cool spell to the region, making it perfect for strolls in quieter towns and snagging reservations at the many Michelin-starred restaurants located here.

Chianti, Italy
Distinguished by diverse and scenic landscapes, the panorama of Tuscany is truly unparalleled. Chianti, the most famous in the region, is located in an area that encompasses Florence and Siena. With its varied scenery, soft rolling hills layered with rows and rows of grapes, quaint hamlets, low-lying forests and charming accommodations such as stone farmhouses, romantic bed-and-breakfasts and luxurious villas, this quiet getaway also doubles up as place from which writers, photographers, poets and travellers draw inspiration. Apart from the charming church of Sant’Appiano in Barberino val d’Elsa and the Etruscan tombs in Castellina, several vineyards in the region have created a dedicated place for wine-tasting, and you can also visit the ‘cantina’ (or wine cellars), take a lazy stroll through the vineyards and sample the famous Chianti Classico.

Adelaide Hills, Australia

Winemaker Brian Croser and his family began planting Chardonnay in the Adelaide Hills region in 1979. He saw the potential of the area as one of the best in Australia, owing to its cool climate. Today, there are around 100 producers in the region and more than 4,000 hectares of vines. In addition to the Sauvignon Blanc and sparkling wines, which the region is renowned for, Adelaide Hills also produces new varieties of Chardonnay, crisp Rieslings, award-winning Pinot Gris as well as the lesser known spicy Grüner Veltliner. But, if you thought this region was all about the whites, you’re mistaken. The Adelaide Hills Shiraz is winning awards all over the country for its modest alcohol and attractive pepper and spice aromas. So, no matter which variety you like to indulge in, whether you like to stick to the more traditional types or experiment with a few new wave wines, the Hills have something for you.

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