Wine, culture and history are connected in many parts of the world, and UNESCO knows it. The organization has designated these seven European wine destinations as World Heritage sites. All promise visitors access to centuries of history woven into winemaking.
Alto Douro, Portugal
This region has a winemaking history that dates back 2,000 years. The precipitous, scrubby, arid hillsides provide an excellent view of the winding Douro River. Stop in Oporto for a tour and tasting at the Taylor Fladgate cellars in the historic Vila Nova de Gaia.
The Climats and terroirs form a jigsaw puzzle of winemaking that has been in place since the High Middle Ages. Small, individualized vineyard plots are the norm here. Larger domaines like Maison Joseph Drouhin offer fascinating historical tours of its cellars filled with dusty old bottles, followed by a tasting.
The best views here are actually deep underground. The region’s maze of chalky tunnels serves as ideal storage for those precious bubblies, as well as a reminder of Roman Gaul, the societies who first excavated the caves. Taittinger’s caves are among the most impressive, with soaring crayères (chalk pits) and a fascinating monastic history.
Langhe-Roero and Monferrato, Italy
Researchers discovered vine pollen that dates to the 5th century BC in these regions, likely when the Etruscans and Celts traded wine. Today, the wines made here are some of the most sought-after in the world. Visit Ceretto winery for a comprehensive vineyard tour and flight of five wines from select Barolo and Barbaresco crus.
The vineyard terraces of this region line the gently sloping hillsides along the shores of Lake Geneva. The stone structures here, which could date as far back as Roman times, provide visitors with miles of uninterrupted scenic wandering and wine tasting.
Winemaking traditions here go back at least 1,000 years. Sweet wines from Tokaji were generally recognized as the first made specifically with botrytized grapes and became the choice of kings. Visit Oremus for a tasting and tour of its underground labyrinth of cellars carved from ancient volcanic rock.
Upper Middle Rhine, Valley, Germany
This 40-mile stretch along the sinuous edges of the Rhine is home to some of Germany’s most picturesque vineyards, dotted with ancient Medieval castles and charming villages.