Two of my favorite things to do are play golf on phenomenal courses around the world and drink fine wines from different regions and countries. Here are some great destinations where you can experience the best of both worlds:
South Africa has been making wine for more than 350 years and has some of the most beautiful vineyards in the world. About 55% of the wine production is white and 45% is red. Most of the wineries have on-site restaurants that are excellent and add to the overall experience. The top wineries are concentrated around Cape Town in celebrated areas such as Paarl, Stellenbosch and Worcester. South African golfers Ernie Els (Stellenbosch) and David Frost (Paarl) have highly successful wineries. Postcard beautiful, the Paarl and Stellenbosch wine valleys are some of the most scenic anywhere. Top courses to play: Leopard Creek, Fancourt Links, Gary Player Country Club, Arabella Golf Club and Pearl Valley Golf Estate.
The country that brought us Greg Norman, Jason Day and Adam Scott has over 1,800 golf courses and more than 60 wine regions with a superb selection of Shiraz, Chardonnay and sparkling wines. Wine tours are popular and Australia has an outstanding outdoor dining lifestyle so you’ll enjoy some of the world’s best food and wine amid magnificent surroundings. Top courses to play: Royal Melbourne, Kingston Heath, Royal Adelaide, Victoria Golf Club, New South Wales and Barnbougle Dunes Golf Links.
One of the special treats on a golf vacation to New Zealand is enjoying the exceptional wines produced there. New Zealand has what many wine critics consider the world’s best Sauvignon Blanc and it also produces excellent Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Reisling. There are 12 major wine regions–Northland, Auckland, Waikato/Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay, Wellington and Gisborne on the North Island and Nelson, Marlborough, Canterbury, Otago, Wanaka and Queenstown on the South Island. There are 393 golf clubs in New Zealand, which places the country second (Scotland is first) in the world for the number of courses per capita for the population of 4 million. Simply put, getting a tee time is rarely a problem. Top courses to play: Cape Kidnappers, Kauri Cliffs, Jack’s Point, Kinloch Club.
Napa Valley, California
If you love wine, welcome to vino nirvana. There are more than 400 wineries in the Napa Valley region with tours and tastings galore. Some of the largest wineries are Beringer, Castello di Amorosa and Robert Mondavi. Other intriguing choices include Beaulieu, one of the oldest and most popular; Sterling Vineyards, which has an aerial tram, elevated walkways and an art gallery; Domaine Charnero, set in a chateau and founded by Champagne Tattinger and Far Niente, which occupies a restored lavish mansion. Situated near the wineries are two excellent luxury resorts, Silverado Resort & Spa, which has two championship golf courses, and Meritage Resort at Napa. Top courses to play: North & South courses at Silverado Resort, Chardonnay Golf Club and Eagle Vines Golf Club.
Even the casual wine drinker can name some of France’s most popular wine regions like Bordeaux, Burgundy, Alsace and Champagne. France produces billions of bottles of wine each year and you have your choice of phenomenal bubbly Champagnes to rich reds and crisp whites. In recent years, France has made a concerted effort to attract visitors to play its more than 550 golf courses. France will host the 2018 Ryder Cup matches at Le Golf National L’Albatross near Paris. Top courses to play: Monfontaine, Les Bordes, Chantilly (Vineuil) and Fontainebleu.
Home to the oldest wine producing regions in the world, Italy represents more than one-third of global production. There are 20 wine regions throughout the country. Let’s face it, you don’t have to go far in any region to find a great bottle of wine in this country. An upcoming site for Ryder Cup 2022 is Marco Simone Country Club near Rome. Most of the top courses and resorts are located in northern and central Italy. Top courses to play: Royal Park Roveri, Biella, Castelconturbia, Villa d’Este and Golf Nazionale.