Photograph by Gary Yeowell/Getty Images
The sun sets on a vineyard farmhouse nestled in the hills near Panzano, Italy. Among wine lovers this Chianti corner of Tuscany is known for the famed red of the same name. Chianti is crafted from a grape blend in which Sangiovese is the star.
Napa Valley, California
Photograph by Cephas Picture Library/Alamy
Vineyard views at Trefethen Family Vineyards, just outside the town of Napa, California, are perhaps best enjoyed with a glass of the vineyard's award-winning Chardonnay. The white wine is perennially America’s most popular, and Trefethen’s version has tickled taste buds for 30 years.
Stellenbosch, South Africa
Photograph by Photo Library
South Africa’s Western Cape wine country boasts an agreeable Mediterranean climate and jaw-dropping scenery that make touring a treat. A cluster of vineyards surrounds Simonsberg mountain in the Stellenbosch wine district—an easy drive from Cape Town. Winemakers have called Stellenbosch home for more than 300 years.
Photograph by Gunter Kloetzer/Aurora Photos
"Backyard winemaking" rises to a new level in Slovenia, where sloped vineyards sprawl down to the very doorstep in Ptuj. Viticulture has a long history here, in one of the nation’s oldest cities, but no time is better than the present for wine-loving visitors.
Rhone Valley, France
Photograph by Clay McLachlan/Aurora Photos
The region's stony soil may look barren but France's Rhone Valley produces some of the world's most popular wines at vineyards like this one near Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The Rhone's distinctive soil makes up part of what the French call terroir, the unknowable way in which all of a site's unique attributes, from elevation and temperature to sunshine and fog frequency, flavor its grapes.
Photograph by Jose Luis Roca/AFP/Getty Images
Grape picking is in season in Jerez, Spain, where baskets of white grapes stand ready to create the wine for which the region is famed. Whether it's called Xérès, Jerez, or Sherry (taken from English mispronunciation of the region's name) the drink boasts a complex range of flavors and as much as 50 percent more alcohol than a standard table wine. Sherry is a handcrafted wine and a traditional part of life in Spain's seaside Andalusia province.
Willamette Valley, Oregon
Photograph by Susan Seubert
Artisan winemakers and their guests raise a glass under the communal roof of the Carlton Winemakers Studio. The shared facility is home to ten different vintners who produce small-batch wines in the heart of Oregon's Willamette Valley. Visitors can sample them all at the studio's wine bar.
Photograph by Serge Picard/Agence VU/Aurora Photos
Time stands still at the legendary Château Margaux, where workers use old-school techniques such as binding vine stocks with reeds. The chateau was one of just four to be classified as first growth (premier cru) in the legendary 1855 Bordeaux Classification, and it still produces some of the world's most famous—and expensive—wines.
Douro River Valley, Portugal
Photograph by Clay McLachlan/Aurora Photos/IPNA
Steeply terraced vineyards, at dizzying pitches up to 70 degrees, can make life difficult for workers who harvest grapes by hand in Portugal's Douro River Valley. But these hand-built terraces help produce some of the world's most distinctive wines, true ports made with the addition of clear brandy.
Douro River Valley, Portugal
Photograph by Stephanie Maze
Though other wines may try to claim the name, the world's true ports are born only in this scenic, 70-mile (113-kilometer) stretch of vineyards along Portugal's Douro River Valley, where grapes have been grown for some 2,000 years.
West Bank Vineyards
Photograph by Chris Anderson
Palestinian Abu Majed pauses while his family tends their West Bank vineyard—soon to be split by growth of the Jewish settlement Efrat (background) and the Israeli security wall. Jewish settlers are expanding West Bank wineries but may also be sowing the grapes of wrath. Palestinians say many settlements, considered illegal under international law, are cultivating vineyards to grab their privately owned land.
South Island, New Zealand
Photograph by Rob Blakers/Photo Library
Vines reach for the southern sky on a raised trellis system in the Marlborough region of New Zealand's South Island. Marlborough, the largest of the Kiwi wine districts, is world renowned for using white grapes like these to turn out remarkably crisp Sauvignon Blanc.
Photograph by Kevin Bohner, My Shot
Grapes are the essence of wine, of course, but many wines wouldn't exist if not for wood—aging in oak barrels has been in practice since the days of the Roman Empire. "Racking" in barrels enables solid particles to settle to the bottom for easier removal. But when many wines spend time aging in oak they also take on flavor in a process that can turn the simple into the sublime.
Photograph by Paul Hogie, My Shot
Countless bottles of Dom Pérignon, named for the monk who helped pioneer Champagne production, line cellar passages at Moët et Chandon. The world's largest Champagne house boasts more than 17 miles (28 kilometers) of chalk cellars, a tippler's treasure trove hidden some 99 feet (30 meters) below Epernay, France. Fine sparkling wines are made elsewhere in the world, but only those from this region can be called Champagne—the world's favorite wine of celebration.
Nat Geo Traveler All Access
Available in print and for iPad®! See destinations come alive with 360-degree photos, videos, and more!