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With grape harvest season in full swing, these wild wineries in regions ranging from Napa Valley to the Canary Islands let you climb, dive, and time travel your way to the most unforgettable experiences that the wine world has to offer.

Life is an adventure worth caring about. Great Big Guides give you the recommendations you need to live a more joyful, interesting and meaningful life. If you purchase any of the products we recommend in a Guide, Great Big Story may receive revenue. Please note that the prices in this guide were accurate at the time of publishing but are subject to change at any time.

Wineries You Have to Experience to Believe

Wineries You Have to Experience to Believe

With grape harvest season in full swing, these wild wineries in regions ranging from Napa Valley to the Canary Islands let you climb, dive, and time travel your way to the most unforgettable experiences that the wine world has to offer.

Life is an adventure worth caring about. Great Big Guides give you the recommendations you need to live a more joyful, interesting and meaningful life. If you purchase any of the products we recommend in a Guide, Great Big Story may receive revenue. Please note that the prices in this guide were accurate at the time of publishing but are subject to change at any time.

Wine tourism isn’t just for your parents anymore. Today, you can plumb the depths of the Adriatic Sea to fetch your vino—or enjoy it from the top of a 200-year-old cedar tree in Bordeaux. Travel far enough, and you’ll even find vineyards planted in volcanic ash or grapes that thrive in Arctic climates.

Here are a handful of the most unforgettable wine experiences in the world for your harvest season bucket list. FYI, grape harvests generally run from August through October in the Northern Hemisphere and from February through April in the Southern Hemisphere, so plan your trips accordingly.

Wineries With a Twist

From interactive adventures to otherworldly terrains, some wineries aren’t just about wine anymore. See what all the buzz is about.

Volcanic Vineyard El Grifo in the Canary Islands

A Volcanic Vineyard in the Canary Islands, Spain

In the mid-18th century, volcanoes ravaged the fertile grounds of Lanzarote in the Canary Islands. When the lava dried, something unusual happened: winegrowers realized the black volcanic ash provided the perfect growing conditions for Malvasia grapes. Today, the folks at the island’s oldest winery, Bodegas El Grifo, hand-harvest those grapes to produce a staggering half million bottles of mineral-infused wine each year. Visitors are invited to take in the winery’s jaw-dropping terrain (which includes a cactus garden) and tour its original winemaking facilities that are now a museum and library.

A Wine Safari in Malibu, California

If a safari adventure is on your bucket list but your travel buddy is craving something a bit more tame, a Malibu Wine Safari is the perfect middle ground. Hop an open-air safari jeep and let your tour guides lead the way. You’ll feed and photograph zebras, camels, bison, alpaca, and giraffes—and it’s all just 30 minutes outside of Los Angeles. Afterward, enjoy some downtime at Saddlerock Ranch, where you can sip vino while exploring ancient cave paintings and taking in stunning views of the Santa Monica Mountains. Nail your safari style with a wind-resistant, sunproof hat.

Wine safari in malibu california
Wild wineries around the world Chateau de Seguin Bordeaux, France

A Vintage Wine Museum in Bordeaux, France

Take your Sauvignon with a side of time travel when you step inside the fairytale castle at Chateau de Seguin in Bordeaux’s historic Entre-Deux-Mers region. Down in its well-preserved cellar, the winery recently launched Vitishow, a first-of-its-kind interactive wine museum featuring the estate’s original, century-old wine pressing machines. A dynamic light and sound show transports you directly into the Roaring Twenties, while an animated film gives you a rare glimpse into the lives and rigorous routines of Bordeaux’s early winegrowers. Of course, you can bring your retro wine experience home by sipping the wine you bring home in some 1920s-era etched wine glasses.

A Sensory Experience in Napa Valley, California

A family-owned winery for five generations, Raymond Vinyards is home to the delightfully surreal Corridor of Senses. The interactive exhibit lets you experience the wine making process through touch, sight, and smell in addition to taste. Enter a Willy Wonka-style hallway where wall-mounted hands invite you to guess at various aromas, from coffee to truffles. Then visit the touch station, where you’ll get a literal feel for wine textures before they hit your tongue. Keep the knowledge flowing by grabbing a copy of Wine Folly: Magnum Edition, an approachable guide to understanding wine.

sensory wine experience in napa california
Reclaimed Boatyard Winery in Mexico

A Winery Built from Salvaged Boats in Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico

When a pair of eco-conscious architects were tasked with building a winery on the desert terrain of Baja’s Guadalupe Valley, they made a bee-line for the junkyards at a nearby port. That’s where they discovered the discarded fishing boats they would salvage to build the dramatic, cathedral-style ceilings of Vena Cava Winery. In fact, the organic winery is a showcase of sustainability, from its glass-bottle insulation to its radial-patterned facilities, which speed up the winemaking process so it’s much more energy-efficient. Of course, a reclaimed wine barrel wine rack is the only possible place to store your haul.

An Underwater Winery in Pelješac, Croatia

Grab your GoPro (and waterproof case) and take a supervised deep dive to discover the world's first underwater winery just off the coast off Croatia’s Pelješac peninsula, one hour north of Dubrovnik. Edivo Vina ages its rubber-insulated wine bottles for 700 days and secures them in steel cages in the depths of the Adriatic Sea. They’ll provide you with a wetsuit and other diving gear so you see the process for yourself—but no sweat if underwater adventures aren’t your thing. Above land, the estate hosts tastings of its Sea Mystery wine with a breathtaking seaside view.

Wine diving experience in Croatia
wine tasting escape room in a 200 year old tree in france

A Treetop Tasting—and Escape Room Experience—in Bordeaux, France

Already built on the third highest hill in Bordeaux’s Sauternes region, Château de Rayne Vigneau elevates your experience even further by letting you sip its first Grand Cru Classé while perched atop a 200-year-old cedar tree. A professional tree climber will guide you up a rope to get a birds’ eye view of the sprawling vineyard. Once on solid ground, you can participate in the winery’s Sweet Escape game, which invites you to decipher codes and puzzles to brainstorm your way out of the estate’s dining room. The owners recommend wearing sports gear, like a good pair of hiking boots.

A Retro Gas Station Winery in Napa Valley, California

Some passersby mistake its vintage gas pumps for the real thing, but Tank Garage Winery only looks like a fully operating service station. The owners actually restored an abandoned gas station and mechanics’ garage from 1930 and built Napa Valley’s coolest winery around it. (That being said, the wine is literally made in tanks.) Inside, you’re welcome to play pinball or strum a tune on a recycled gas can “guitar." On pleasant days, enjoy a glass of rosé at the winery’s Lubrication Station while people-watching through the open garage door in Napa’s hip Calistoga community. Don’t forget your Fuji Instax Camera to capture this uncommon and super cool scene. If you’re lucky, you might spot one of the famous Napa Valley vineyard saving barn owls, too!

Gas Station Vineyard in Napa Valley

Treetop tastings and wine country safaris are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to modern winetourism. We rounded up some wild wineries that let you climb, dive, and time travel as you sip and savor the local vintages. Cheers!

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