Travel Wine & Dine

Grape Escapes: Where to travel and drink wine

The juicy, fruity liquid gold; we all love wine here in Hong Kong. Whether you’re a white, red, or rose drinker there’s no denying we can’t get enough of the stuff – especially after a long day at the office. Yet, have you ever thought of getting out of HK and travelling to a wine region? We hear from EDDIE MCDOUGAL of The Flying Winemaker about three regions in the world that are well worth a visit.

‘ I’m so grape-obsessed that I plan my holidays around growing seasons to ensure an endless summer of delicious food and wine. With Hong Kong being such a foodie town, I’m unsurprisingly not alone in this “How much can I eat and drink, and how many Asia Miles points will it take?” approach to vacation planning.

Traditionally, wine lovers travel to the iconic wine regions of Napa, Tuscany, Bordeaux and the Barossa Valley to get their fix of highly rated Robert Parker wines. These days there are many – dare I say – better wine regions gaining significant momentum in wine quality, while at the same time having made unforgettable tourism a key focus. Places like Stellenbosch in South Africa, Barolo in northwest Italy, and Australia’s Tasmania are destinations that are booming with an amazing mix of modern hospitality offerings laced with an authentic twist of legendary wine history.

 

#1 Stellenbosch

Eddie in his element in Stellenbosch
Eddie in his element in Stellenbosch

Home to many of South Africa’s most prolific winemakers, with vineyards that produce excellent examples of Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinotage, Stellenbosch’s storybook-worthy colonial architecture and beautiful exterior gardens make visitors feel like stars of a Wilbur Smith novel. The food scene is insanely plentiful, from fine dining to local pubs serving great local steaks on the braai. A dramatic mountain range surrounding this region makes for the world’s best wine region selfies, and the drive from Stellenbosch to Franschhoek is a must.

Best wineries: Meerlust, Kanonkop and Spier

 

#2 Barolo

Travel to Italy from Hong Kong
Vineyards and the castle of Barolo in Piedmont, Italy

The land of the great Nebbiolo red wine, white truffles and the intoxicating smells of the Ferrero Rocher factory, Barolo is the ultimate food-and-wine-lovers’ heaven with the glamorous Italian scenery to match. The historical villages are exceptionally well preserved and loaded with hidden wine bars and restaurants. Towns are filled with family-style pizzerias run by Italian nonnas, a penchant for putting truffle on everything and of course a collective of world-class winemakers. If you’re a cyclist or decide to rent a sweet vintage convertible, then you’ll love the rolling hillside drives, as every corner you turn is magical. Keep your eyes on the road – and the Italian drivers, too!

Best wineries: Vietti, Chiara Boschis and Elio Altare

 

#3 Tasmania

Wineglass Bay in the Freycinet National Park
Wineglass Bay in the Freycinet National Park

Known as the “Apple Isle”, Tasmania sits off Australia’s southern coast. Here you’ll find some of the country’s best sparkling wines, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Surrounded by the magnificent blue waters of Bass Strait and the South Pole, the seafood harvested off the island is unbeatable. Prepare to find yourself regularly feasting on succulent scallops, sweet-fleshed crayfish and of course local oysters. For those looking to keep their diet in balance, the island is full of stunning hikes (including must-see Cradle Mountain and Wineglass Bay) and adventure sports like kayaking and rock climbing. If you’re worried about the Tasmanian wildlife, I can assure you that the Tassie Devil doesn’t eat people, nor does it spin at a million miles an hour. One last tip, make sure you get to the Mona Gallery for a visit – the art and building itself are mind-blowing.’

Best wineries: Bay of Fires, Freycinet Wines, Josef Chromy and Moorilla Estate

To sample the wines of these regions before you go, visit flyingwinemaker.asia or the store at 6/F, Yu Yuet Lai Building, 43-55 Wyndham Street, Central.