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Sip and Swim at These 8 Oceanside Wine Destinations

By Veronica Meewes

Nov 12, 2019

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Enjoy a pour at this dreamy, beachy setting at Gaía Wines in Santorini.

Photo by Veronica Meewes

Enjoy a pour at this dreamy, beachy setting at Gaía Wines in Santorini.

If you love the surf as much as you love swirling and sipping, set off to one of these eight destinations that are primed for ocean worshippers and wine lovers alike.

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What’s better than sipping a superb glass of wine? How about enjoying it while breathing in fresh ocean air, sun overhead, and sand underfoot? Indeed, it’s surf’s—and bottoms—up at these eight, great seaside wine destinations around the globe, where you can discover unique production techniques at a winery that ages bottles underwater or perhaps watch winemakers unwind on surfboards.

The volcanic soils of Santorini cultivate some of the most ancient vines in the world.

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, which produce high-quality, yet largely unknown, indigenous grapes. Visit renowned vineyard Domaine Sigalas and enjoy an ocean-view tasting while overlooking one of the vineyards of assyrtiko vines, trained into the basket shape unique to the island. Then head to Gaía Wines for a modern interpretation of retsina (a resin-flavored, Greek-style wine) and other unique varietals, some of which have been aged while submerged underwater. After having a drink or two, dip into the Aegean, just steps away from its tasting room. 

North Fork, Long Island, New York

New York State’s 30-mile-long North Fork peninsula is home to some of Long Island’s best vineyards. Kontokosta Winery, for one, produces award-winning viognier and cabernet franc against an Atlantic Ocean backdrop. Also experience the island’s take on traditional-method sparkling wine at Sparkling Pointe, capped off with dinner at La Plage, a romantic beachfront restaurant along the picturesque Wading River Beach that serves respectable French-American cuisine with a lengthy local wine list.

Languedoc-Rousillon, France

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Wine lovers are spoiled for choice when it comes to traveling for vin around France, and the southern coast is no exception. Although the Languedoc-Roussillon region gained a reputation of producing for quantity rather than quality in the 1970s, it is now one of the most diverse and exciting wine regions in the country. Located just outside the town of Narbonne, Château l’Hospitalet is an ideal home base for travelers in the area. Renowned winemaker Gérard Bertrand’s organic and sustainable 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.

Just south of Cape Town, on a peninsula between the Atlantic and False Bay, Cape Point Vineyards pairs standout sauvignon blanc with sweeping ocean views.

Cape Town, South Africa

The winelands of the Western Cape, divided into six different regions, compose the largest wine-producing area 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 more temperate False Bay, resulting in a uniquely complex, award-winning sauvignon blanc. The winery, which also features a seasonally driven, wine-pairing restaurant and a weekly Thursday community food market, provides sweeping ocean views. Nearby Muizenberg Beach features pristine sand and a surf break primed for beginners; you might even see local winemakers practicing for the annual Vintners Surf Classic.

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. Stemmari’s is but one of the exceptional offerings found in the island’s Agrigento province, set on Sicily’s southwestern coast. Also notable for traditional wines is the Feudo Arancio winery, which is located a bit inland from the fishing village of Porto Palo di Menfi, where unspoiled beaches line the southern coast. Be sure to make reservations at the waterfront Da Vittorio, one of the island’s top seafood restaurants, where plates pair beautifully with grillo or nero d’avola. 

Margaret River, Australia

Even newcomer winemakers and chefs who didn’t surf upon arrival typically end up catching the bug pretty quickly in Margaret River, Western Australia’s lush, coastal wine region and surf haven turned culinary oasis. Vasse Felix, the area’s first winery, is a stone’s throw from the coastline and some of the best surf in Oz. After tasting its 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 and a glass of local wine 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 gearing up for the sweet freshwater crayfish known as marron.

While tasting your way through the nine wine regions of Portugal’s Lisboa region, stop off for some surfing or swimming along Sintra’s Atlantic coastline.

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 some of the varieties at the region’s urban hub in Lisbon at bars like BA Wine Bar in Bairro Alto before taking excursions to regions outside of the city. In Colares, a handful of wineries—like Adega Regional de Colares—remain committed to growing traditional grapes such as ramisco and malvasia de colares despite challenges like scorching heat, sandy soil, and salty winds. Afterward, head to the beach at Praia do Guincho to surf or swim the Atlantic waters along the Sintra coastline. 

San Luis Obispo, California

The wines coming out of California’s central coast have garnered attention for producing some of the state’s best rhône-style vintages, and one of the most beautiful places to taste them is between San Luis Obispo and Pismo Beach. The ocean-facing Avila Wine Trail’s tasting rooms pour award-winning wines that are grown locally or 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 only steps from the ocean. After tasting the region’s expressions of chardonnay, syrah, and pinot noir, dip your toes in the salt water and watch the sun set to the tune of live music at PierFront Wine & Brew.

This article originally appeared online in August 2017; it was updated on November 12, 2019, to include current information.

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