When it comes to amazing wine, Europe has been a well-established destination for many centuries. Of course, if you are hoping to try some of Europe’s most famous wines, you could go to Bordeaux, Champagne, Piedmont or Tuscany, but what if you are looking for a more unique wine tasting experience? We at Zizoo, a global boat rental platform, are all about sharing the joys of sailing in incredible destinations, which is why we’d like to share our top picks for Europe’s best wine regions to discover by boat.
1. Costa Brava, Spain
The mild winters, hot summers, strong northern winds and gentle sea breezes define the wines of the Empord region along Spain’s Costa Brava. Located in the northeastern corner of Catalonia, Spain the Empord wine region makes for a perfect stop while sailing the beautiful coast. Empord is divided into two geographical areas and the region traces its winemaking production back to the times of ancient Rome. Today over 400 winegrowers and 45 registered wineries offer excellent vintages from local and international varieties of grapes. The rugged coast and pleasant rural countryside make the Costa Brava one of the best sailing destinations for wine lovers.
2. Southern Dalmatian Islands, Croatia
The picturesque islands in Southern Dalmatia, conveniently positioned between the major cities of Split and Dubrovnik, is a perfect place to enjoy island hopping while sampling some of the best Croatian wines. In addition to fantastic and well-celebrated wines, the islands offer many breathtaking beaches, best sailing routes, hidden coves, nature reserves, charming towns and amazing Mediterranean cuisine. Start your wine tour by boat in Hvar and then sail on to the nearby islands of Korcula, Brac and Solta.
3. Balearic Islands, Spain
Famed for its beaches, vibrant party scene, music festivals and rich culture, the Balearic islands also offer some incredible wines, many of which can only be tried on the islands. The Balearic Islands are made up of Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera. Mallorca boasts over 1200 acres of vineyards and has experienced a major development of high-quality winemaking over the past decade. Many of the vineyards are located in the center of island, but it’s definitely worth cruising the coast. We suggest you start at Bodegues Bordoy, in the south of Mallorca. Or extend your boat trip dedicated to wine tasting by exploring the rest of the Balearic Islands and their many great vineyards.
4. Crete, Greece
As the birthplace of the first European civilization, the history and rich culture of Crete is unparalleled and has excellent wine to match. Crete is the largest island in Greece and is also home to the oldest wine-producing area in continuous use on the European continent. Crete’s excellent wines are best enjoyed while dining on traditional Greek cuisine surrounded by the beauty of the island. Traverse the island of Crete while sampling incredible indigenous varieties including Vilana or Kotsifali.
5. Amalfi Coast
The Amalfi Coast was added to Italy’s DOC label in 1995 and has become well known for it’s terrific wines. Vineyards are scattered along the steep, terraced slopes that tower above the dazzling coastline. Be sure to add a glass of local wine while discovering the magnificent towns situated along the World Heritage designated coast. Don’t miss the distinguished wines of Furore, Ravello and Tramonti then head out to the glamorous island of Capri, famous for both its red and white wines.
6. Ile de R©
Set in the Atlantic Ocean on the western coast of France is Ile de R©. Also known as the White Island, Ile de R© is famous for its villages with light and whitewashed houses. The island’s high quality wines are characterized by the unique soil and the use of winemaking traditions that can be traced back to several hundred years ago. The charming, laid-back, yet chic, island beckons nature enthusiasts and cyclists who leisurely navigate the island’s bike paths. Spend an afternoon on a catamaran on a relaxing cruise while sampling wines from one of the island’s fantastic vineyards.
7. Rhine Valley
One of the most well known wine routes in Europe to be enjoyed by boat follows the Rhine river in Germany. A good part of the Germany’s 85 km Wine Route can be explored on a relaxing river cruise. As you discover the beauty of the Rhine Valley, try one of the many dry, white wines including Reisling, which makes up about 80% of the wine produced in this region. Winemaking in the Rhine Valley dates back to ancient times. It is believed that the Romans and emperor Charles the Great first planted vines here.
8. Ionian Islands
The Ionian Islands are made up of 12 small and large beautiful islands. We believe (and many agree) that the stunning beaches, ancient monuments and sun-kissed vineyards that cover the islands are best explored by boat. Spend a day sailing along the southern coast of the island of Lefkada where you’ll find many vineyards offering award-winning whites, reds and roses in the villages of Athani, Agios, Petros and Syvros. Among the larger islands and major wine producers that are scattered along the rugged western coast of Central Greece are Corfu, Paxi, Lefkada, Kefalonia, Ithaca and Zante. The islands are deeply rooted in winemaking traditions that were greatly influenced by four centuries of Venetian rule. Today, the wines are experiencing a revival through the adoption of new winemaking methods, an increase of organic and natural wine production and scientific research.
Located along the Mediterranean in Southern France, the former French province is marked by its contrast of mountainous and coastal landscapes, sandy beaches, fascinating cultural heritage and futuristic architecture. It is also well recognized for its wine production. Famed for its excellent blends, Languedoc Roussillon has also become known as a great value wine region. Although many vineyards are set further from the coast, it is still a great place to sail. Start in the charming port of Saint-Piere La Mer where you will also find a few lovely vineyards and then make your way up to the coast to enjoy some terrific local wines in several quaint villages and seaside resorts.
For many years, Sicily’s wines were neglected as a cheap, mass-produced product often used for blending. However, in recent decades, industrial vineyards have been ripped out and a new generation of passionate wine producers have been working hard to reintroduce and promote indigenous grape varieties. The winegrowers’ efforts have been well received and Sicily is now considered Italy’s most exciting new wine region. Vineyards are spread throughout the island so you’ll want be far each time you weigh anchor in a new spot along the coast.
Zizoo enables its customers to experience a boat holiday in a way that suits them. We cater to those looking discover hidden gems off the beaten track as well as those wishing to party or seeking luxury and style. We make sailing accessible and easy to organise for everyone, whether an experienced sailor or a newbie. With 6,000 boats across 200 locations in 25 countries to choose from, Zizoo is the number one destination for boat rentals in the world.