Virtual tastings, done over the internet and experienced in your own home, have become a great new way to experience wineries’ offerings. But if you can’t get your hands on the bottles the winemaker will be pouring or crave a more immersive experience than merely swirl, sniff, sip and repeat, why not take a virtual tour instead? Thanks to technology such as well-produced videos and 360-degree interactive experiences, you can virtually fly over vineyards and walk through barrel-filled cellars and chat with head winemakers. These are five trips to quench your thirst until your next wine country getaway.
It’s unexpected, to be sure, but Israel has become one of the most exciting wine regions to watch. Wine has been produced here for thousands of years, but it wasn’t the late 19th century that the industry started to flourish due to the influence of Baron Edmond de Rothschild, whose family owns the prestigious Bordeaux house Château Lafite Rothschild. Today, there are five main wine regions in the country, including Galil, with a high elevation, cool breezes, nutrient-rich well-drained soils and diurnal temperature swings that make it well-suited for producing cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, merlot and sauvignon blanc. Start with videos on Wines of Israel’s YouTube channel that give an overview of the country’s wine history and explore specific regions, the diverse varietals and more, including footage from vineyards and interviews with winemakers and researchers. GuildSomm, an educational resource for sommeliers and enthusiasts, takes it one step further with a video about wineries in Israel as well as Lebanon and Cyprus.
This region in southwest France has been called “the cool person's Provence,” with the same sunny climate, pebbly beaches and Mediterranean backdrop but minus the crowds and scene. It’s also the world’s largest demarcated winemaking region, geographically speaking, but for years, it has lived in the shadow of Bordeaux and Burgundy. No longer, as the Languedoc has become associated with natural and biodynamic wines from producers such as winemaking pioneer Gérard Bertrand. Get a taste with this video that spotlights all that is romantic and delicious about this sun-drenched region, then visit Bertrand’s winery, Clos du Temple, in Cabrières, the birthplace of rosé wines. Open up a bottle of Hampton Water, his pink wine collaboration with Jon and Jesse Bon Jovi, while scrolling through this IG feed that will make you wish you could teleport to the South of France.
An hour south of Silicon Valley lies one of the most breathtaking spots in the entire Golden State. Home to the rugged beach in Big Sur, the luxe beach community of Carmel and the world-class golf courses of Pebble Beach, it’s also where you’ll find some well-made pinot noir and chardonnay. It’s due to the warm sun that ripens grapes and cool fog and breezes coming off the Pacific that moderate the sun’s heat, the combination of which leads to elegant, restrained wines. Start with this 360-degree video that takes you through the sloping vineyards of Carmel Valley and the gently rolling ones of the Salinas Valley. Uncork a bottle of Mer Soleil from the Santa Lucia Highlands while imagining you’re perched on the verandah of cliffside eatery Nepenthe with its live webcam, where you can enjoy mountain views and watch the fog roll in and out of the South Coast. Take an interactive tour of Folktale Winery and Wrath Wines, and as an alternative to a winery crawl of Monterey County’s River Road Wine Trail via luxury helicopter, Specialized Helicopters is sharing the view on the company’s Facebook page.
New South Wales, Australia
Hunter Valley is the most well-known wine region in Australia’s most populous state, where you’ll find iconic wines made with semillon, as well as cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and shiraz. But it’s a huge area encompassing 310,000 square miles and subregions such as Big Rivers, Canberra District, Orange and Mudgee, so get your bearings with this aerial tour. Join senior winemaker Stuart Horden for an insider view of Brokenwood Wines, one of the Hunter Valley’s premium boutique operations crafting high-quality semillon and shiraz. Also in the Hunter Valley, Glandore Estate Wines offers a peek into its new tasting rooms, outdoor covered areas and vineyards surrounded by panoramic views of the Brokenback Mountains via this 360 degree virtual tour. And you can soak in even more of the wine life Down Under via the IG page for Hunter Valley and New South Wales.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
Willamette Valley, Oregon
Pinot noir reigns in this Northwest U.S. wine region that’s 100 miles long and 60 miles at its widest point. The Cascade Mountains to the east and Coast Range Mountains to the west offer protection for the finicky red grape, which requires a cool climate to coax out its silky tannins, tart cherry and raspberry notes and distinctive earthiness reminiscent of mushrooms or wet leaves on a forest floor. Tour the four Willamette AVAs where Raptor Ridge Winery makes vineyard-specific wines, including interviews with the vineyard owner and manager, who gives info about the soil, microclimates and winemaking philosophy. Next, view the lush valleys, golden sunsets and gourmet products made on-site at The Allison Inn & Spa, a 77-room luxury destination resort in the foothills, before walking through the vineyards with wine director Jody Petit to learn about the property’s Austin Knoll wines. If your palate still isn’t sated, Willamette Valley Wines has compiled an updated list of virtual tours and tastings. Open up a bottle from a favorite or just-discovered producer while listening to one of the playlists curated from area tasting rooms to best recreate the experience of visiting Oregon wine country.