Crisp, creamy, bitter, sweet—in all its forms, who doesn’t love wine? If you and your fiancé have grape expectations for your honeymoon, these lesser-known wine culture regions will make for one tasty trip. From sprawling vineyards and colorful landscapes to explorative wineries, they offer one heck of a spot to sip from your glass.
Cape Town, South Africa
With lush valleys and rugged mountains, it’s all about tasting with a view in Cape Town’s vast wine lands. The capital is certainly not short on options. Head 30 minutes south to South Africa’s oldest wine region, Constantia Valley, for lunch at La Colombe at Constantia Uitsig Wine Estate, where you’ll be greeted with a dictionary-size wine list. Or hop on the Vine Hopper wine tour to see the best of the exquisite vineyards through the small-town vibes of Stellenbosch, from Simonsig Wine Estate to Warwick Wine Estate, perfect for a wine picnic. Trendy and a bit more glamorous, Franschoek offers spectacular views. See the best of it on the Franshoek Wine Tram, which exposes you to several wineries.
Willamette Valley, Oregon
Napa may do all the talking in America, but Willamette Valley, an hour south of Portland, is home to two thirds of its state’s wineries and vineyards. Hosting more than 500 wineries, there’s a lot to choose from, but you can’t miss this region’s husky pinot noirs, considered some of the best in the country. Try a glass at Lachini Vineyards or taste the artistry behind the wines at Montinore Estate. Enjoy the scenic area from one of the many bed and breakfasts or inns, such as Black Walnut Inn & Vineyard, which lives up to its name with its own winery. Bonus: The area is only an hour from the beach.
Seville may not have any vineyards or wineries, but it is a city in one of the world’s largest wine-producing countries. It’s also the city where tapas were invented—and where there are tapas (a.k.a. everywhere), there’s wine to wash them down. Whether you opt for a local sherry wine (the city isn’t far from Jerez, the capital of sherry wine) or a regional wine request (you can’t go wrong with rioja or Ribera del Duero), the options are endless. Stumble upon local bars for surprising delights, or choose a more structured route with one of the tapas and wine tours, which are offered in abundance. And there are wineries nearby, such as Lustau or Fernando de Castilla in Jerez, which make for the perfect day excursion.
Central Otago, New Zealand
The world’s southernmost wine region, Central Otago, in New Zealand, has a sophisticated wine culture. Its cooler climate yields not only snowy mountains and glaciers but also some fantastic pinot noir. (Pinot gris and riesling are also becoming popular in the area.) Its scenery makes the location an ideal choice for a couple looking for a change of pace from standard wine country. Sample the region’s offerings at Rippon Vineyard in Wanaka and Peregrine in Gibbston Valley, both places where you can sip and soak in the views. On the dining front, Amisfield Bistro on Lake Hayes offers modern dishes paired with estate-grown wines.
Loire Valley, France
Move over, Bordeaux—the quiet countryside of Loire Valley is all about French splendor, offering up a taste of French favorite wines, ancient cities, and historic castles. Two hours south of Paris, “the garden of France” is diverse in wine styles, from fresh and fruity to smoky, with a focus on four main wines: chenin blanc, sauvignon blanc, cabernet franc, and melon de Bourgogne. The valley is split into four subregions, so there’s much to explore, but you can’t leave without a visit to Bouvet Ladubay’s nearly-five-mile cellar of fine sparkling wines or Chateau des Vaults’s pairing of wine with cultural experiences, such as art exhibitions, concerts, and literature evenings.