Many of the most stunning and beautiful landscapes in the world are, naturally, in wine regions.
It’s no surprise. After all, the elements of a great growing environment—temperate weather, rich soil, minimal intervention of people and pollutants—also make for an idyllic travel destination.
History—another focus of savvy travelers—also goes hand-in-hand with the globe’s storied viticultural areas. I had the fortune of visiting two stunning UNESCO World Heritage sites this year: the Lavaux Vineyard Terraces outside of Lausanne, Switzerland, and Portugal’s Douro Valley.
In addition to their breathtaking location on the northern shores of Lake Geneva, the Lavaux mountain-slope vineyards date back to the 11th century. In the incomparably dramatic Douro, wine has been produced for close to 2,000 years.
The Wine Enthusiast staff is comprised of inveterate travelers, so our annual 10 Best Wine Travel Destinations feature is always a hot debate. This year’s list is rich with both the iconic (Piedmont, also a UNESCO World Heritage site) and the undiscovered (Istria, anyone?). It’s the essential wine lover’s travel guide for 2015, with insider tips, best bottles and more.
Another famed destination—Santa Barbara, California—is the focus of Contributing Editor Matt Kettmann’s urban winery report. Industrial parks and warehouses in the Santa Maria Projects, Lompoc Wine Ghetto and beyond are pumping out some of California’s most promising pours. We tell you which urban producers to try now.
Steak and wine is no new dalliance, but how you couple specific cuts with your favorite wine is the focus of our pairings piece. From porterhouse to filet mignon, we tell you how to cook it, pair it and offer tips on side sauces and cocktails to produce mouthwatering results.
Also in this issue: Spirits Editor Kara Newman’s top six Scotch trends of the year, and a libido-revving recipe from Greece.