Tasting room at La Motte Wine Estate in Franschhoek, South Africa

Welcoming Wineries: 12 Best Wine-Tasting Tours

By Andrew Harper Staff

The Harper Way | October 20, 2016

An essential pleasure of a journey to any wine region is the opportunity to visit the vineyards of the wines you love. Many wineries have tasting rooms where you can sample a variety of bottlings. They may have a restaurant or an outdoor terrace where you can enjoy provisions for a picnic, and in many cases, you may have the chance to speak with the actual winemakers. That said, there are some wineries that are more welcoming than others. We've gone through our extensive notes from recent visits to wineries around the world and found 12 where we know you'll receive a warm welcome.

MacRostie Winery Estate House

Sonoma, California

View from the terrace at MacRostie Winery Estate House © Kathryn Macdonald

Visiting the recently remodeled MacRostie Estate House is our favorite new experience in Sonoma. The winery now offers unparalleled panoramic views of world-famous Russian River Valley Pinot Noir vineyards as well as Sonoma Mountain in the distance. Terrace tastings provide collectors and novices alike the opportunity to relax and enjoy a “tour de palate” sampling of cellar-worthy Chardonnays and Pinots. VIP tours may feature a wine pairing lunch on the patio as well as a private visit to the barrel room.

MacRostie Winery Estate House
4605 Westside Road, Healdsburg. Tel. (707) 473-9303

Arrange privileged access to notable wineries in Sonoma and Napa through Porthos, the Andrew Harper wine concierge.


Barossa Valley, Australia

Elderton Estate’s Command Shiraz © Elderton Wines

Elderton Estate wins our vote for the most hospitable winery experience in Australia’s famed Barossa Valley. This historic winery features 117-year-old Shiraz vines owned by the Ashmead family. They released their first Elderton Estate wine in 1982, and 11 years later captured the Jimmy Watson Trophy, Australia’s premier prize for red wines. The gregarious brothers Allister and Cameron Ashmead, sons of the original proprietors, run the show today and are famous for sharing a vast range of wines representative of Barossa’s history, of which the highlight is the captivating Command Shiraz.

3-5 Tanunda Road, Nuriootpa. Tel. +(27) 08 8568 7878

Craggy Range

Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

Craggy Range in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

Although the Otago region on the South Island draws the most attention for Pinot Noirs, we are also fond of those from Craggy Range, an extremely handsome property in the Hawkes Bay region of the North Island. We admire the winery’s efforts with Syrah, which is not commonly made in New Zealand. We have enjoyed fine tastings here, and the appealing Terrôir restaurant emphasizes produce from the area. For those who become smitten by the property, attractive cottage accommodations are available.

Craggy Range
253 Waimarama Road, Havelock North. Tel. +(64) 6-873-0141

Dr. Loosen

Moselle Valley, Germany

Dr. Loosen Estate House © Dr. Loosen

The riverside mansion of Dr. Loosen is part of a wine estate that has been in the same family for more than 200 years. When we visited, we relaxed in the dining room of the elegant 19th-century summer home with just one other visitor, tasting wines from several of the Moselle Valley’s most exceptional vineyards. Look for austere Graacher Himmelreich, fruity Urziger Würzgarten and rich Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese. Private tastings on a riverboat can also be arranged. Reservations required.

Dr. Loosen
D-54470 Bernkastel, Moselle. Tel. +(49) 6531-4248

Viña Cobos

Mendoza, Argentina

Tasting room at Viña Cobos Photo by Andrew Harper

During his time working for Nicolás Catena, Paul Hobbs completely changed the winemaking culture of Mendoza, and in 1997, he founded his own winery, Viña Cobos. In the sleek tasting room of this contemporary glass-and-concrete building, you can sample some beautifully crafted wines. The Viña Cobos Bramare line focuses on single-vineyard Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Tasting them together emphasized not only the difference that terroir can make but also the focus and elegance of which Mendozan wines are capable. Reservations required.

Viña Cobos
Costa Flores y Ruta 7, Perdriel, Luián de Cuyo, Mendoza. Tel. +(54) 9-261-6746144


Paso Robles, California

Tasting room and vineyards at JUSTIN © JUSTIN Vineyards and Winery

This renowned winery produces red wines that have earned raves for many years. In fact, the Isosceles bottling has been its benchmark Bordeaux-style blend for more than 25 years. This utterly charming winery is nestled in the back hills outside of Paso Robles and offers a wonderful tasting — and superb food at the on-site restaurant. You might even want to stay over in the charming three-suite hotel overlooking the lovely vineyards.

11680 Chimney Rock Road, Paso Robles. Tel. (805) 238-6932


Valle de Colchagua, Chile

Clos Apalta Winery at Lapostolle © Matt Wilson

West of Santiago in the Colchagua (cola-CHA-wha) Valley, Lapostolle is the realized dream of Alexandra Marnier Lapostolle, the scion of the venerable family that created the celebrated French liqueur Grand Marnier. The centerpiece Clos Apalta winery is an impressive, modernistic structure where a portfolio of fine wines is created. We highly recommend a stay at the superb adjoining Lapostolle Residence. Tours are available by appointment.

Km 4 Camino Apalta, Valle De Colchagua, Santa Cruz. Tel. +(56) 72-295-3360

La Motte Wine Estate

Franschhoek, South Africa

Wine cellar at La Motte Wine Estate

La Motte is a particularly inviting winery in the stunning wine country north of Cape Town. Our favorite wines are the Chardonnay and the Millennium Bordeaux-style blend, but all the wines are generally excellent. They are best enjoyed at Pierneef à La Motte restaurant, which celebrates wineland ingredients and serves La Motte vintages by the glass.

La Motte Wine Estate
R45 Main Road, Franschhoek Valley. Tel. +(27) 021-876-8000

Château Boswell

Napa Valley, California

Vineyards at Château Boswell

Perhaps the most remarkable winery experience in Napa is to be found in the stunning caves of Château Boswell, deep under the prestigious estate vineyard. There you will be able to sample the majestic micro-production wines crafted by world-famous winemaker Philippe Melka. The guest experience commences in the dome room with a guided sampling of the winery's remarkable Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs, culminating with a full cave tour, plus barrel samplings and the opportunity to secure “futures” of Château Boswell's most coveted upcoming releases.

Château Boswell
3468 Silverado Trail, St. Helena. Tel. (707) 963-5472

Erzsébet Pince

Tokaj, Hungary

Erzsébet Pince’s 2008 Tokaji Kövérszőlő

On a narrow street in the pretty town of Tokaj, Hungary, this small winery has cellars dating to at least 1743. We toured the facility with its passionate owner, Hajni Pracser, who speaks excellent English. She led us through the cellars, and afterward we ascended to her terrace, where we sampled an array of elegant single-vineyard dry whites and several sweet Aszú wines, which exhibited remarkable force and concentration. Reservations required.

Erzsébet Pince
H-3910, Tokaj. Tel. +(36) 2-080-20-137

Castello di Ama

Tuscany, Italy

View from the terrace at Castello di Ama © TripAdvisor

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate declared that Castello di Ama “remains a reference-point producer in Tuscany” and gushed that “these are some of the most pedigreed wines being made anywhere.” Today, this winery offers our favorite undiscovered winery experience (tour and tasting) in all of Italy thanks to the unique setting, superb wines and unparalleled hospitality. The spectacular winery and guest areas are all set within a collection of medieval-era buildings and palaces in a private village overlooking two panoramic valleys. Words cannot sufficiently describe the grandeur of this experience.

Castello di Ama
GPS coordinates: 43.441111-11.389167. Tel +(39) 0577-746069

Château La Nerthe

Rhône Valley, France

Wine cellar at Château La Nerthe © TripAdvisor

Château La Nerthe, located on the outskirts of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, is one of only two actual chateaux operating as wineries in this historic village today. For VIP guests, this winery offers genteel hospitality plus an awe-inspiring portfolio of wines worthy of any collector. Private tours commence in the 17th-century cellar and conclude on the terrace of this magnificent estate with breathtaking views of the prestigious vines and the Rhône River.

Château La Nerthe
Route de sorgues F-84230, Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Tel. +(33) 0-490-83-70-11

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