Winery tours have got a lot more exciting than a long lecture in a dank cellar and a short measure in a glass. The World’s Best Vineyards singles out top wine tourism destinations across the globe where the visitor experience matches the wow factor of the wines. Essential samples the Top Five and our own wild card pick – a winery that thinks it’s a theme park. Pour yourself a glass of something good and enjoy!


Winery tours have got a lot more exciting than a long lecture in a dank cellar and a short measure in a glass. The World’s Best Vineyards singles out top wine tourism destinations across the globe where the visitor experience matches the wow factor of the wines. Essential samples the Top Five and our own wild card pick – a winery that thinks it’s a theme park. Pour yourself a glass of something good and enjoy!


The 2021 Rankings

Europe is the pick of the crop for a vineyard adventure. The continent hogs 19 spots in the World’s Best Vineyards Top 50 with Spain’s own Marqués de Riscal in La Rioja crowned Europe’s top winery.

Now in its third year, 2021’s list represents 16 countries, including first-time entrants from Lebanon and Russia. But it’s not all about the wine. With no apologies to wine geeks, location, ambiance, views, architecture, food and service are just as important. Rankings are based on nominations from a Voting Academy of over 500 wine and travel experts in 18 global regions who have tried and tested 1,500 wineries between them.

“There is no single definition for an amazing vineyard experience in the same way as there is no single definition for an amazing wine,” said WBV’s Andrew Reed at 2021’s reveal, live-streamed from the Schloss Johannisberg winery in Rheingau, Germany.  “By shining the light on wine tourism, the message gets out to more people to come and discover the uniqueness of wine and where it is made.”

Chile and Portugal had the most wineries in the Top 50 with seven apiece, followed by Argentina with six. Spain tied France with four: the Tio Pepe Bodega in Jerez was listed #9, Familia Torres, #26 and Abadía Retuerta’s magnificent monastic complex in Castilla y León, #32.

#1 Winery at the Top of the World

Zuccardi Wines, Argentina

Best Vineyard in the World 2021 / Best Vineyard in South America 2021.
Signature Wine: Zuccardi Q Malbec. ‘Wine like the Andes – profound, austere and full of textures.

In a desert of rock and cactus that looks like no place you could grow vines, this modernist winery in Mendoza’s Uco Valley has been startling visitors and alpaca herdsmen since it opened in 2016. Built from the stone that litters the landscape and topped with a shiny cupola reflecting the snow-capped Andean peaks, the architecture has won almost as many awards as the wines. The domed tasting room is also an art gallery and the glass-fronted Piedra Infinita Cocina serves up four-course paired lunches garnished with jaw-dropping views.

The Zuccardi family has produced precision-made high-altitude wines here since 1963 and at 1,000 metres above sea level, vineyards don’t get more vertiginous. Their flagship Finca Piedra Infinita vineyard’s 2016 and 2018 Malbecs scored a coveted 100 Robert Parker Points and the third generation is aiming higher still, seeking purer expressions of terroir with meticulous soil research and a groundbreaking fermentation system in concrete egg-shaped vats.

Named World’s Best Vineyard for the third year running, judges praised everything from the ‘Brutalist beauty of the fermentation vats’ to ‘the fastidiously detailed tours that make soils scintillating. It’s not just the vineyards’ height that will take your breath away’.

#2 An Adventureland of Wine

Herederos del Marqués de Riscal, Spain

Best Vineyard in Europe 2021
Signature Wine: Marqués de Riscal Reserva. ‘Wines designed to be original, fresh and easy to drink.’

Wrapped in ribbons of pink and purple titanium, Marqués de Riscal’s astonishing City of Wine set the trend for glamorous winery hotels when it opened in 2006 offering Cabernet scrubs in a vinotherapy spa and adventures among the vines.
The handiwork of Frank Gehry who designed Bilbao’s iconic Guggenheim Museum, the ’drunken’ interior of tilted walls, zigzag windows and fruity colours is just as intriguing. Looking out across the winelands of La Rioja to one side and the gastronomic promise of the Basque Country on the other, a Michelin-starred fine dining restaurant headed by Francis Paniego combines produce from both regions in six and nine-course paring menus.
But the biggest surprise is the original cellars hidden at the heart of this futuristic wine city: La Catedral, a prodigious 130,000-bottle library of rare wines dating back to the family’s very first vintage from 1862. Visitors can tour this living history in six languages, explore the estate on horseback or e-bike, or save the wine talk for dinner and head off to the golf course.
‘Design, art, gastronomy, wine and the lush landscape all combine to create a memorable sojourn,’ commented the judges. ‘There is a lot to learn and discover at this adventure-land of wine.

#3 A 16th Century Aristocrat

Château Margaux, France

Signature Wine: Grand Vin de Margaux.
‘Fruity Bordeaux blends of the highest order’.

Chateau Margaux has been producing its name-dropping wines for the tables of princes and presidents since Louis XIV sat on the throne. Britain’s 18th century Prime Minister Sir Robert Walpole got through 16 casks a year but rarely settled his bills! However it is the 19th century Neo-Palladian villa, nicknamed the Versailles of the Médoc, that draws visitors along the sweeping tree-lined driveway leading to one of Bordeaux’s original top four Premier Cru wineries, as classified by Emperor Napoleon’s tasters in 1855.
Inspired by the Parthenon, complete with ionic columns, the wine world initially turned its snooty nose up when a Greek bought the estate but André Mentzelopoulos kick-started the winery’s second golden age. Now his daughter and grandchildren have upped the ante, adding a new winery with a splendid glass Vinotheque tasting pavilion designed by Sir Norman Foster and, said the judges, ‘proving unafraid to experiment with new initiatives like using screw caps instead of corks’.
Cellar tours are by appointment and stop at the château’s front door but every visitor gets to stroll down that regal driveway and dream a little.

#4 A Star is Born

Bodega Garzón, Uruguay

Signature Wine: Bodega Garzón Balasto. ‘Bold yet taught Atlantic-influenced New World wines’.

No one was talking about Uruguay wines when South America’s first green winery burst onto the scene in 2016. But Argentina’s richest man, oil tycoon Alejandro Bulgheroni, has spared no expense in taming Uruguay’s wild child Tannat grape, grown in 2,500-year-old granite soils, into tipples that compete with the best.
The bodega’s architecture is as rooted to its terroir as the wine, grafting the region’s ancient wind-sculptured boulders into its design – camouflage for one of the most high tech production set-ups in the world. The first winery outside North America with an LEED Certificate of sustainability, the estate spreads across a biodiverse landscape of virgin forest, palm groves, almond plantations and the manicured fairways of an 18-hole course.
But it’s the Garzón Experiences that tempt tourists into abandoning their sunbeds on Uruguay’s Riviera, just down the road, for a day in the country. Vineyard picnics, horse-drawn carriage rides, hot air balloon flights and blend-your-own wine classes are all on the menu, along with a chance to sample the cuisine of Francis Mallmann, ‘the chef who plays with fire’; though he may not be there as he has restaurants in Paris, Miami and all over South America to attend to.

#5 Divine Wines and Hellfire Cooking

Viña Montes, Chile

Signature Wine: Purple Angel (among others.) ‘Wine from another planet’, made from the Carménère grape, long lost in France and recently rediscovered in Chile.

Grapes get a helping hand from the spirit world at this mystical winery in Chile’s Colchagua Valley. Angels embellish the bottle labels, Gregorian chants serenade wines in the barrel for optimal ageing and the architecture incorporates the five elements of Feng shui. The wooden path over water flowing towards the winery entrance, the metal fermentation tanks and the restaurant’s fire pit all ensure ‘Good Chi’.
The bodega is the shared vision of four friends who got together in the late 1980s to take Chilean wines to a higher level, and the magic is working. Today its vineyards stretch from the coast to the Andes foothills and Montes wines are sold in more than 100 countries.
The only place to drink them is in their own terroir, surrounded by vine canes, at the bodega’s Fuegos de Apalta restaurant. Overseen by the ubiquitous Francis Mallmann, the fiery four-course gaucho feast blends gastronomy with theatre as aproned acolytes flit among the flames tending slabs of nine-hour slow-grilled rib eye and cast iron cauldrons of caramelising fruits.

#31 Willy Wonka’s Wine Factory

d’Arenberg, Australia

Signature Wine: ‘The Dead Arm Shiraz, among a huge portfolio of wines with quirky cuvée names’.

Dubbed Australia’s Willy Wonka of Wine, the flamboyant Chester Osborne has turned his great grandfather’s Adelaide estate, founded in 1912, into a wonderland as psychedelic as his shirts. Garden gnomes peep between the vines and the sound of the weather, transformed into wavelengths, is pumped from speakers to cheer up the grapes.
Poised in the middle of the estate, which you can tour by horseback, helicopter or biplane, is the d’Arenberg Cube, a mirrored version of Rubik’s reflecting the puzzle-solving nature of winemaking.
An Alternate Realities Museum and a virtual fermenter that makes you feel like you’re in a tank of grapes continues the trippy experience inside the cube, finishing four floors up in the panoramic tasting room. Lunch is an eight-course degustation at d’Arry’s Verandah, the family’s 19th-century homestead.
Under Chester’s watch the bodega has become the largest biodynamic grower in the country, producing organic wines from a staggering 37 grape varieties. There’s no madness in his methods although the names of all d’Arenberg wines are pretty insane. There’s one christened The Cenosilicaphobic Cat after Chester’s own wine-loving moggie. Cenosilicaphobia is fear of an empty glass!