Seven wine destinations for escaping the cold
January is arguably the most depressing month of the year. The festivities of December are long since over, there are new deadlines on the horizon and chocolate for breakfast is no longer acceptable. Plus, it’s cold. So give yourself a break from the grey with an escape to a wonderfully warm wine destination, and keep yourself going until al fresco drinks are back on the cards.
1. Sicily, Italy
Go from the ski slopes of Etna one day to the beaches of Taormina the next – and dozens of superb wineries in between! With a unique variety of landscapes and beautiful architecture – not to mention very pleasant temperatures year-round – Sicily might not be the first wine hotspot that springs to mind, but it makes for the perfect winter break.
2. Alentejo, Portugal
Don’t expect the glorious Portuguese heat you’d normally find in the summer months, but Portugal’s wine region of Alentejo nonetheless provides welcome respite from the UK’s bracing winter. Think bright blue skies, crisp sunshine and breathtaking landscapes home to a wealth of wineries. Use the UNESCO heritage town of Evora as a base to explore everything this renowned wine region has to offer.
3. Santorini, Greece
The stunning island of Santorini is Greece’s most distinctive wine region, and home to the oldest vineyard in Europe. A great choice for white and sweet dessert wine lovers, there are wine adventure tours available all over the island – or explore at your own pace – then relax with a good glass in front of the glorious south Aegean Sea.
4. Colchagua Valley, Chile
Sandwiched between the Andes Mountains and the Coastal Mountain range, Chile’s Colchagua Valley provides a breathtakingly scenic spot to enjoy a glass of red. Hire a bike and cycle from winery to winery, taking the time to savour the warm Mediterranean climate, the views, and of course, some of the finest wines in the southern hemisphere.
5. Napa Valley, California
January marks the start of mustard season in Napa, when mustard flowers carpet vineyards in swathes of gold, emitting a visual warmth matched by the region’s pleasant temperatures. There are countless vineyards in the area, so take the time to really acquaint yourself with a handful of properties, rather than rushing around as many as possible. An added bonus: January is California’s Restaurant Month, so expect to get your fill of great gourmet offerings as well as world-class wines.
6. Swartland, South Africa
If you’re serious about getting some winter sun during your wine adventure, South Africa’s Swartland region and its daily 30°C+ temperatures ticks the boxes. While perhaps not as renowned as neighbouring Stellenbosch, the expansive area boasts a wide variety of landscapes, including great stretches of gloriously sunny beaches – perfect for topping up the tan between visits to some of South Africa’s most revered wineries.
7. Margaret River, Australia
If you’re prepared to go seriously long-haul, consider one of Australia’s lesser known wine gems. Predominantly home to boutique-sized wineries, the Margaret River region produces just 3% of Australia’s total grape production, but commands more than 20% of the country’s premium wine market. Plus, it’s a renowned surfing location, so you can blast away the previous day’s excess with a high-octane dip in the sea (or a snooze on the beach, if you prefer).