If you’re a wino, you’re not doomed to attending stuffy tastings or touring yet another vineyard. There are plenty of interesting wineries around the world that offer so much more than a few sips of some tasty grapes. So let’s kick this off with a trip to Maui and work our way around the world and back.
Kings, Cowboys and Pineapples: MauiWine, Hawaii
Situated on the hills of the Haleakalā volcano on the island of Maui, this charming spot has quite the history that dates back to the mid-1800s. The land was originally a sugar mill called Rose Ranch and was owned by a Hawaiian king. After some unfortunate turn of events, the ranch stopped producing sugar and instead switched to raising cattle, which led to the first generation of Hawaiian cowboys. It wasn’t until the latter part of the 20th century that the land became used for producing wine.
Apart from the rich history, the winery is well-known for the Syrah, their famous pineapple wine, which is produced from the extract of Maui Gold pineapples. Millions of people each year come to visit the pristine landscapes, taste test the many flavorful varietals and learn more about Hawaiian history.
Fun fact: What used to be a holding cell for some of the local bad boys has now become a fabulous tasting room!
Wine-Tasting Cabanas: Viansa Winery in Sonoma Valley
Why bother with the beach when you can drink some tasty rosé overlooking California wine country? Situated just north of San Francisco, visitors can sit on a terrace designed to look and feel like a historical building straight out of Tuscany. Its sky-high location allows you to get the best views possible while you enjoy a flight of vino and a bite to eat.
Viansa Winery offers Italian food made with fresh and local ingredients to pair with your drink of choice. You can also grab something smaller to nibble on at their marketplace, which also occasionally offers wood-fired pizzas and seasonal treats. Special events are frequent as well so you can plan on a good time, pretty much anytime.
Viansa Sonoma Winery website
A Castle Winery: Chillon Castle, Switzerland
You might know Chillon Castle from the works of Lord Byron or Henry James, or just from the popularity of the monument itself. It’s so old that historians don’t even know precisely when some of its first structures were built, as the earliest mention of the place was in 1005. Most of this picturesque chateau was actually used as a prison until its later years, but also housed a wine cellar and press underground.
In 2011, the winery was officially open for business once again, only this time in a far less hostile time period. So not only can you come to Chillon Castle for the sightseeing you can also taste and purchase the wines grown from vineyards off of Lake Geneva. Another interesting tidbit is that the Chillon Castle Foundation alongside Badoux Vins has bottled and stored a small batch of wine underwater to preserve each bottle’s integrity and taste.
Chillon Castle website
This Wine Lives on a (Kind of) Submarine: Sottomarino Winery, San Francisco
On San Francisco’s Treasure island you will find a very interesting historical spot called Sottomarino Winery, nested inside a former World War II marine training vessel. Visitors can taste Italian wine varietals in the U.S.S. Buttercup’s lower submarine section, which includes the training module used by U.S. troops or on the deck above that offers spectacular views of the bay.
This modern winery has a nice selection of different Italian varietals from pinot grigio to Dolcetto. And while tastings in a former “Damage Control Wet Trainer” might not sound too appealing, this spot is surprisingly attractive and fun as hell.
Sottomarino Winery website
So, there we have it! This is just the tip of the iceberg of cool wineries, but hopefully, you’re inspired to make a few extra pitstops during your next vacation. Send us a message with your favorite spot and we’ll throw you a shout out on our next list!