I love traveling to where a wine is made. The chance to experience life among the vines -- smelling the earth, meeting the makers, and visiting the cellars -- can make for a thrilling few hours. Of course, the people I may be travelling with are usually bored to tears after the first visit, and by the third visit are preparing to mutiny!

So what’s a wine lover to do? Find the world's greatest wine regions that truly offer something for everyone.  For example, a place where you can experience great wines of all stripes (whites, reds, bubbles, and sweeties) while visiting some of the most breathtaking sites the world has to offer.  There are only a few places that match that description, and the most exciting one to visit must be France’s Loire Valley.

The Loire Valley

While the Loire Valley really is a tourist destination (the Chateau du Chenonceau is second only to Versailles in annual visitors!), it remains a predominantly rural region dotted with small towns and few big cities. As such, visitors there should come prepared for an authentic French experience that will include country cuisine and stays in charming hotels and relaxing B&Bs. Travel along the Loire River, which links the region's major towns, is easy -- especially if one is using France's superbly efficient rail system.