From deep, full-bodied reds to sweet whites, Europe is home to world-class wines for every palate. Best of all, wineries tend to be in especially scenic and relaxing settings. If you're hoping to add some local charm to your travels, check out these seven wine towns in Europe.
With a population of fewer than 300 people, it's easy to overlook the village of Momjan in northern Croatia. Visitors who make the stop, however, are rewarded with stunning hillside views, a 15th-century church, and some of the best wines in eastern Europe. Momjan is part of the Istria wine region, a peninsula that extends into the Adriatic Sea that's known for its Malvazija Istarska grape variety.
Kabola Winery, located on the southwestern hills of Momjan, has won Traditional Wine Maker of the Year for its time-tested techniques. Meanwhile, another local spot, the Kozlović winery, has produced what's been called the best white in Croatia. Want some cycling with your wine? Every November, the village hosts an annual Bike-Wine Marathon, which is the perfect way to explore the countryside and take in some fresh air in between wine tastings.
In the heart of Italy's can't-miss wine region, the Tuscan city of Montepulciano is an increasingly popular tourist destination and for good reason. The town is a medieval masterpiece with ancient churches, beautiful palaces, and the famous Piazza Grande at the center of town. It's also the birthplace of Vino Nobile, one of the region's most beloved reds.
Time your visit right and you might get to witness one of Montepulciano's most famous traditions — the Bravìo delle Botti. Teams from the town's eight historic districts race to push wine barrels up the unforgiving, cobblestoned hills to the city center. Celebrations accompany the race and there are plenty of libations for locals and visitors alike.
If port is your drink of choice, you can't miss a visit to Pinhão in northern Portugal. The town is located where the Douro and Pinhão rivers converge, which is part of what makes the soil so perfect for growing the region's famed grapes. Take the train into town and you'll see some of the region's most notable vineyards en route including Quinta dos Malvedos and Quinta do Tua. You'll also be greeted by a train station full of extraordinary ajulezo tiles, which depict scenes from the region's history.
Like many wine towns, the annual grape harvest is the most exciting time of year to visit Pinhão. Take part in the festivities with everything from grape picking to grape stomping. Throughout the year you can tour the vineyards, learn about the wine-making process, and relax over a glass of wine paired with Portugal's legendary cuisine.
In the heart of Hungary's southernmost wine region is the town of Villány, which is known for the local reds and rosés that put the Hungarian wine industry on the map. Its sub-Mediterranean climate and dry winters make it a great stop any time of the year. It's also close to other Hungarian landmarks such as the ancient city of Pécs, which is known for its stunning mix of Roman and Ottoman architecture.
With cellars that have been preserved for centuries, Villány is like a step back in time. The Bock Winery cellar is one of the most notable stops in the town with long tunnels full of barrels from years past and a stone chapel. Over 50 cellars can be found in the town, so you'll have no shortage of stops to make and sips to take.
The vineyards in Sancerre — a town in France's famed Loire Valley — date back nearly a millennium. While the village doesn't offer the same luxury as some of the more well-known destinations along the river, it makes up for it with plenty of rustic charm and truly excellent wines.
In town, you can visit the Maison des Sancerre, which is housed in a 15th-century building, to learn about the region's vineyards. You can also climb to the top of a tower dating from the 14th century for a view of the village and valley below. On the outskirts, stop by the Château de Sancerre, one of the town's most beloved vineyards.
For anyone interested in a baroque experience, there's no better place than Spitz, a town along the Danube River in Austria. It sits in the Wachau Valley, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its well-preserved history and medieval landscape. The village is also just an hour outside of Vienna — making Spitz the perfect day trip.
Cycling is very popular in Spitz and is a great way to enjoy the natural beauty of the surrounding Wachau region. As for wines, you'll want to taste the local whites — especially Riesling — for which the area is known. Stop by the Donabaum Winery along Spitz Creek or one of the smaller, family-run wineries in the neighborhood.
The ancient city of Nemea in Greece is our final stop for wine lovers. The local vineyards are known for their Agiorgitiko grapes and the deep red wines they produce. The wines are often called "Hercules' blood" in reference to the hero who slayed the mythical Nemean lion.
While there is also a modernized section of Nemea, the ancient site also remains and has been archaeologically restored. Take in views of the Temple of Zeus, which dates back to 330 B.C. You can also check out the stadium that was once used for the original Nemean Games. Just a half-mile from the site lies the largest vineyard in the country at Palivou Estate. Enjoy a tour of the grounds and the small, onsite winery to get a taste for the local varietal.