It's no surprise that Napa Valley rises to the top of honeymoon lists. With more than 400 vineyards, world-renowned restaurants and breathtaking views, it certainly checks all the requirements for a romantic getaway. But the region's befitting popularity also means larger crowds. Newlywed oenophiles looking for a dream wine-country escape without foregoing a drop of romance (it's your honeymoon after all!), can find both solitude and serious sips in these Napa Valley substitutes.
Baja California, Mexico (Above)
Only a 9-hour drive from Napa Valley, Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico's wine region, is perfect for wine-sipping adventure seekers. The region burst onto the scene a few years ago and could be considered the wild west of wine countries, with unpaved roads leading to many of the tasting vineyards and innovative new-world blends from wineries Casa Piedra and Mogor Badan that are nearly impossible to find in the US. The dining scene is equally as adventurous. Try Corazón de Tierra with its daily evolving eight-course menu or Laja, which boasts its own orchard, farm and vineyard. Keep the honeymoon vibe cool at Hotel Endémico, an architectural gem with wood and metal huts built into the mountainside.
Photo: Courtesy of Cedar Creek Winery
Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada
With more than 200 wineries, Okanagan Valley, Canada's second largest wine-producing region, is what some might call the Canadian Napa. It produces more than 20 grapes, the Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay blends get the highest praise, from both family-owned vineyards and large estates, and with 4,000 hectares of rolling vineyards, the resemblance to Napa is uncanny. Use Kelowna as your home base, and up the romance quotient with a lakefront room at Delta Grand Okanagan Resort or cozy up in the historic Lindon House Cottage. Most of Kelowna's 30 wineries offer free tastings, which leaves plenty to splurge on a helicopter wine tour and a legendary meal at Waterfront Wines or Terrace Restaurant at Mission Hill, one of the region's many chef-driven restaurants. Between tours, refresh with a sunset yoga session at Cedar Creek Winery.
Photo: Daniel Pavlinovic
Peljeac Peninsula, Croatia
Surrounded by the deep blue Adriatic Sea, the Croatian wine region is the birthplace of the Zinfandel grape, which traveled to Southern Italy before making its way to Napa — thank goodness — in the 19th century. Today, the Peljeac Peninsula's wines are all variations of the indigenous grape and made using a centuries-old technique. Get the full cultural experience with a stay at the historic Hotel Adriatic at the tip of the peninsula, and eat from the fresh oyster beds at the plethora of family-owned seafood restaurants smattered along the coast, or make reservations at Saint Hills Winery in Oksorusno for a locally driven gourmet meal and pairing. But there is so much beyond tastings. Island hop to Korcula to explore the truly majestic old city, take a tour on the Mali Ston city walls or make the hour journey to Dubrovnik — which Game of Thrones fans will recognize as King's Landing.