Vineyards and wineries, one of the best ways to travel a country

Vineyards and wineries are peculiar windows into a country’s culture, history, architecture, and landscape.

The Castle of Torrechiara near Parma, in the north of Italy, is surrounded by vineyards. Photo by Mario Rossetti.
The uniquely original wine cellar of the Marchesi Antonori winery. Photo by Petro Savorelli.
A 6th-century mosaic with Armenian inscriptions, depicting grapes, found in Jerusalem. Photo by Dickran Kouymjian.

History

The collection and hand-down of knowledge is probably the most distinctive feature that makes us humans. The most important and effective way is in written form, but a building with its construction method, architectural style, artistic decorations, and involvement in historic events is a bearer of knowledge too. The artifact holds knowledge for all to absorb. If made in front of a tasty glass of wine, all the better.

The ancient Armenian monastery of Khor Virap, in the Arat Valley. Vines have been grown in the area for millennia. Photo by Numerius Negidius.
A view of Ortenau Castle. Photo by Peter Buck.

Location

When choosing the location for a winery, pick one a bit inside the countryside, not too close to cities or towns. Italy is densely populated so you won’t be driving long either way, but you want those rolling hills dotted by a church, a citadel, or a hamlet in your view.

Elegance describes no only the architecture of Château de Pitray, but also its gardens. Photo by William Ellison.
A view of the San Quintino d’Orcia area, Italy. Photo by Aliona & Pasha.

Architecture

Although a historic winery, with centuries old building, cellars, and setting, is very unlikely to not look great, it’s understandable that a person might look for cutting-edge contemporary architecture, or a specific element of interest, such as the cellar.

View of the Bodegas Ysios winery. Photo from Rioja Wine Trips.

Wine

Examples

There are way too many fantastic wineries around the world to make an appropriate ‘best of’ list here. I’ll mention some that I either visited myself, or that people I personally know visited, just to offer some examples of what I’m talking about.

Open view from the Elk Cove Vineyards area in Oregon. Photo by Anna Campbell.

Final tip

Doing some research before heading out is key. You might have three wineries clustered together, yet have completely different experiences at all three of them. Perhaps one won’t have the ideal mix of history-location-wine, but aim for the best ones.

Freelance writer, photographer, architect, and Executive director at Finding Italy. Culture, nature, sports, Italy, England, and the Pacific Northwest.

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