Photo by Veronica Meewes
The dreamy tasting setting at Gaía Wines in Santorini
From Australia to Greece, here’s where you can savor excellent wine with an ocean view.
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Summer may be coming to a close in some parts of the world, but as the seasonal crowds begin to thin, now’s a good time to plan one last getaway. The following spots are ideal for those who enjoy the surf as much as they love swirling and sipping. From a beachside winery that ages bottles underwater to ocean-view bars serving hyper-local varietals alongside the region’s best seafood, these eight unique places are a must for ocean worshippers of all kinds.
1. Santorini, Greece
When the phylloxera epidemic destroyed most of the vineyards across Europe in the 19th century, it was unable to survive in Santorini’s unique soil—a blend of pumice stone, volcanic ash, and sand. As a result, this volcanic Cyclades island is home to some of the most ancient vines in the world and some high-quality, yet largely unknown, indigenous grapes. Visit renowned winemaker Paris Sigalas and enjoy an ocean-view tasting while overlooking one of his vineyards of Assyrtiko vines trained into the basket shape unique to the island. Then head to Gaía Wines, on the east side of the island, for a modern interpretation of retsina and unique wines submerged underwater for five years. After having a drink or two, dip into the Aegean, just steps away from the tasting room.
2. North Fork, Long Island, New York
The North Fork is home to Long Island’s best vineyards, stretching from Jamesport in the west to Greenport in the east, where Kontokosta Winery produces award-winning sauvignon blanc and rosé against an Atlantic Ocean backdrop. After a tasting and tour of the 62-acre property, experience the island’s traditional-method sparkling wine at Sparkling Pointe on the way to dinner at La Plage, a rustic beachfront restaurant serving exquisite French-American cuisine along the picturesque Wading River Beach.
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3. Agrigento, Sicily
If the lingering Sicilian summer could be poured into a glass, it would come in the form of grillo, a crisp, tropical white balanced with vibrant acidity and a mineral backbone. Historically used in blends and grown for marsala production, winemakers like Stemmari’s Lucio Matricardi are breathing new life into indigenous grapes such as grillo and nero d’avola, the island’s soft, dry red. The Feudo Arancio winery is located just minutes from the fishing village of Porto Palo di Menfi, where unspoiled beaches line the southern coast. Be sure to make reservations at Da Vittorio, one of the island’s top seafood restaurants, to experience the sea urchin pasta and gambero rosso (red prawns), both of which couple beautifully with grillo or nero d’avola.
4. Cape Town, South Africa
The winelands of the Western Cape, divided into six different regions, compose the largest wine-producing region of South Africa. Head due south of Cape Town for Cape Point Vineyards, a winery located on a peninsula between the cold Atlantic and the warm False Bay, resulting in a uniquely complex, award-winning sauvignon blanc. The winery, which also features a globally inspired restaurant and a weekly Thursday community food market, provides 360-degree ocean views. Nearby Muizenberg Beach features pristine sand and a mile-long surf break; you might even see local winemakers practicing for the annual Vintners Surf Classic.
5. Lisboa, Portugal
Portugal might be small, but the country is home to over 250 indigenous wine grape varieties, many of which are unknown across the globe. Lisboa, which is made up of nine wine regions, boasts sunny skies through late November, making it the ideal destination for a getaway timed with the harvest. Sample through some of the varieties at bars like BA Wine Bar in Bairro Alto before taking excursions to regions just a stone’s throw from the city. In Colares, just a handful of wineries—like the ones at Adega Regional de Colares—remain committed to growing grapes such as ramisco and malvasia de colares despite challenges like scorching heat, sandy soil, and salty winds. Afterward, head to the Praia de Guincho to surf or swim the Atlantic waters along the Sintra coastline.
6. Languedoc, France
Wine lovers are spoiled for choice when it comes to traveling for juice around France, and the southern coast is no exception. Although it gained a reputation of producing for quantity rather than quality in the 1970s, the Languedoc-Roussillon is now one of the most diverse and exciting wine regions in the country. Located just outside Narbonne, Château l’Hospitalet, is an ideal home base while traveling in the area. Gérard Bertrand’s organic and sustainable (and mostly biodynamic) wine estate, hotel, and restaurant overlooking the Mediterranean are dedicated to expressing the region’s unique terroir. A visit to one of the area’s Picpoul de Pinet producers such as Domaine Félines Jourdan is also essential before enjoying the bright, aromatic white at one of the local oyster bars on the beach.
7. Margaret River, Australia
The winemakers and chefs who didn’t surf upon arrival typically end up catching the bug pretty quickly in Margaret River, Western Australia’s lush wine region turned culinary oasis. Vasse Felix, the area’s first winery, is just a stone’s throw from the coastline and some of the best surf in Oz. After tasting their flagship cabernet sauvignon and semillon–sauvignon blanc, the crisp and refreshing white blend that put the region on the map, head to Busselton Beach for a swim. Afterward, enjoy a meal at The Goose Beach Bar and Kitchen for scenic views of Busselton Jetty, Geographe Bay, and Cape Naturaliste. Visit as spring starts warming to summer (late November), when the season is just gearing up for the sweet freshwater crayfish known as marron.
8. San Luis Obispo, California
The wines coming out of California’s central coast have been gaining more and more attention for producing some of the state’s best Rhône-style vintages, and one of the most beautiful places to taste them lies between San Luis Obispo and Pismo Beach. The ocean-facing Avila Wine Trail’s tasting rooms pour award-winning wines both grown locally and sourced from vineyards spanning Paso Robles to Santa Barbara. While many of the estate vineyards and tasting rooms have a Pacific view, some—like Morovino Winery or Sinor-Lavallee—are just steps from the ocean. After tasting the region’s expressions of chardonnay, syrah, and pinot noir, dip your toes in the saltwater and watch the sun set to the tune of live music at PierFront Wine & Brew.
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