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Medieval Times: 12 Castles to Visit in Wine Regions Around the World

Medieval Times: 12 Castles to Visit in Wine Regions Around the World

Have you ever toured a castle while sipping on a delicious glass of wine? Castle hopping in Europe can be quite the adventure, especially when they’re located in wine country. Sprawled atop hills, vineyards or overlooking charming middle age villages, medieval castles and ruins of yore spark the imagination in all of us. Spend the night in a Tuscan castle located in the Chianti region or learn about a 13th century German knight while sipping on local Riesling wines.

Located in the hearts of wine regions such as Italy, Spain, Tuscany, Austria and more, these preserved medieval castles —some credited as UNESCO World Heritage sites—not only stroke your curiosity of the past but also fill your soul with historic wines.

Here are 12 castles to visit in famed European wine regions.

Schloss Lieser

Lieser, Germany

Schloss Lieser / Alamy

This historic 19th century castle was the former home of German politician Eduard Puricelli and is nestled in the heart of the Mosel region—known for some of the finest white wines in the world—surrounded by vineyards with breathtaking views of the Mosel River. Acquired by the Marriott Hotel’s Autograph Collection, Schloss Lieser has been beautifully restored to its former glory as a luxury boutique hotel. Its furnished rooms have been redesigned to the popular romantic style of the time featuring antique chairs, tables and original portraits of German nobility.

The castle has experiences for guests of all ages with various amenities located on and off the grounds. Flora lovers can take a stroll through the elegant castle grounds, wine lovers can partake in a Riesling wine tasting session on the terrace or enjoy the villages along the Moselle River in a canoe or on a paddle board.

Burg Hornberg Castle

Neckarzimmern, Germany

Castle Hornberg in Neckarzimmern at the River Neckar , Germany, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Neckarzimmern
Burg Hornberg / Alamy

Located along the romantic Neckertal (Neckar Valley), Hornberg Castle of knight Götz of Berlichingen, was once known for its long standing feuds with the Catholic diocese of Speyer. Today, this historic 11th century fortress serves as a boutique hotel and restaurant with repurposed tower rooms, suites and terraces that offer panoramic views of the surrounding vineyards located on the picturesque valley’s slopes.

This ancient castle is also a prominent vineyard and has a wine bar across from the gate entrance which doubles as a ticket office for castle tours. The combo wine store and museum offer a glimpse into the past as well as partake in sampling a wide variety of the local wines while browsing the winemaking equipment.

Residencia Real Castillo de Curiel

Ribera del Duero Madrid, Spain

Curiel de Duero, Ribera del Duero, Valladolid, Spain
Residencia Real Castillo de Curiel / Alamy
Ribera del Duero is not only home to Tempranillo, a single-varietal grape that accounts for more than half of the region’s vines, it’s also home to some of the oldest relics of Spanish history—royal castles. Castillo de Curiel is a 7th to 11th century fortress that sits on top of a rock on a hill in the heart of the Duero Valley.

Built as royal property for the various Castilian-Leonese Kings who once resided there, it later served as a prison for nobles and kings for nearly two centuries. Now fully restored as a luxury hotel complex, its historic charm with modern facilities attracts tourists seeking tastings of the local Spanish wines, vineyard hikes and horseback riding.

The Alhambra Fortress

Granada, Spain

Alhambra palace with the snowy Sierra Nevada in the background, Granada, Andalusia, Spain
Alhambra Complex / Alamy

Set against the beautiful backdrop of the Sierra Nevada mountains, the Alhambra is a majestic 9th century relic that was once a Muslim palatine city, military fortress, Moorish palace, a Christian Royal House and the Royal Court of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain. This UNESCO World Heritage Site sits atop the hill overlooking the city of Granada and offers day and night tour strolls of the palace halls, monuments, exhibits, GeneralLife Gardens and more.

After the tour, head to one of the many beautiful wineries and partake in tastings of local Andalusian wines, including its famous fortified Jerez wines, aka Sherry.

Château de Chenonceau Castle

Touraine Loire Valley, France

Twilight over Chateau Chenonceau in the Loire Valley, Centre France
Château Chenonceau / Alamy

Nicknamed the “Ladies Château” as it was built, protected and restored by notable women such as Diane de Poitiers and Queen Catherine de Medici, Château de Chenonceau has been a treasure of the Loire Valley since the 16th century. Its five arches span the banks of the Cher River, surrounded by vineyards that produce fruitful and complex red and white Touraine Chenonceaux wines.

There are plenty of things to do and see in the area but if you prefer to stay on the castle grounds. Outdoor lovers can take a walk in the massive flower garden or explore the maze, and wine enthusiasts can book a tasting in the castle’s historic vaulted wine cellar Cave des Dômes or an oenological walk through the vineyards of the château and gardens.

Château Cos d’Estournel

Bordeaux, France

France, Aquitaine Region, Gironde Department, Haute-Medoc Area, St-Estephe, Chateau Cos d'Estournel winery
Château Cos d’Estournel / Alamy

This exquisite Bordeaux château is named after founder and vintner Louis Gaspard d’Estournel and showcases his affinity for Indo-Saracenic architecture, which are combined elements of Indian and Indo-Islamic architecture with Gothic revival and Neo-Classical style—a product of British colonization of the east. Sitting high in the famous St. Estèphe appellation of Médoc’s Left Bank region, Cos d’Estournel is revered as one of the most prestigious wine estates in the world.

Today, Cos d’Estournel is not only a highly revolutionized winemaking facility but it also serves as a luxury boutique estate hotel and winery. Step back in time with a vineyard tour featuring 45-year-old vines and end with a vertical tasting of the château’s iconic vintage red and white wines in the grand pagoda-style wine cellar.


Vaud, Switzerland

Vufflens castle and vineyards in Switzerland, in the autumn season
Vufflens-le-Château / Alamy

This stunning French 15th century medieval castle located in the region of Morges, sits atop the previous castle of Henri Colombier that was set ablaze by Bernese troops in 1530. Unfortunately, this perfectly symmetrical structure is privately owned and not open to the public, but that doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate its beauty from afar. Sitting atop a small hill, site seers can enjoy a pleasant stroll through the vineyards between Vufflens and Denens while taking in the magnificent views of Mont Blanc and Lake Geneva.

Château d’Aigle

Geneva, Switzerland

Famous castle Chateau d'Aigle in canton Vaud, Switzerland
Château d’Aigle / Alamy

Located amongst vineyards in the heart of the Rhone Valley, between the Alps and Lak Léman (aka Lake Geneva), Château d’Aigle is a 12th century Swiss castle with strong ties in the local wine industry. It’s home to the annual summer Medieval festival, where the château and its staff take patrons back to the atmosphere of the 15th century, and the Vine, Wine and Label Museum showcases Vaudois winemaking of yore.

With activities for adults and children, the castle offers an escape room, exhibitions and banquet halls for weddings. Guests can also enjoy wine tours of Pays de Vaud or enjoy the local wines on the terrace with the views of the vineyards.

Pena Palace

Sintra, Portugal

Pena Palace
Pena Palace / Getty

This majestic and colorful Romanticist palace sits atop a hill and overlooks the town of Sintra with the backdrop of the idyllic Sintra mountains, which, on a clear day, can be seen from Lisbon. It was built around 1840 for Ferdinand II, who was referred to as the Artist King thanks to his championing of the arts. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site for its cultural history, garden landscapes and architecture, guests can get lost in its charm by partaking in an eight-hour tour of the magical palace grounds. Pena Palace is equipped with a plethora of indoor and outdoor experiences for couples or the whole family such as visits to its many parks and monuments, exclusive tours of the palace and family programs that include petting zoos.

Lovers of Portuguese wine can take a short taxi ride to enjoy a tasting tour at the Regional Wine Cellar of Colares, which features Sintra’s local DOC wines. Founded in 1931, the cellar is the oldest coop winery in Portugal.

Castle of Vila Viçosa

Alentejo, Portugal

View of castle at Vila Vicosa in Portugal.
Castle of Vila Viçosa / Alamy

This moated castle, aka the House of Bragança, was the former royal residence of King Alfonso III of Portugal and dates to the 13th century. It’s located in Vila Viçosa, an historic town of the country’s second largest wine producing region—Alentejo. Today, the castle grounds—complete with its original drawbridge entrance to the courtyard—is free to the public and houses hunting and archaeological museums. The interior wall of the castle holds a chapel and shrine to Portugal’s patron saint, Nossa Senhora Da Conceicao, as well as the cemetery where famous poetess Florbela Espanca rests.

Although the castle doesn’t have its own vineyard or winery, take a short walk or drive around the surrounding wine country and visit some of the nearby local estates and vineyards, including Adega Ervideira and Esporão, to experience its superb food and wines.

Castello di Volpaia

Tuscany, Italy

Castello de Volpaia in Tuscany
Castello de Volpaia / Alamy

Castle Volpaia is a beautiful, fully restored 12th century winery that was once a small, rural village. With three estates sprawled in the heart of the Chianti region with over 110 acres of vineyards alone. UNESCO deemed the cultivation of Pantelleria as part of its Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Today, the village serves as one Chianti’s highest elevation estate of organically farmed wineries as the entire village is involved in both wine and olive oil production.

A popular tourist attraction, experience everything the village has to offer such as bike tours, local cuisine and overnight stays in one of the villas on the estate. Imbibers can take a journey through the “wine pipeline” by booking a tasting tour to the wine cellars which are in the village basements and winds through underground alleys, desecrated churches, old buildings and palaces.

Castello di Soave

Verona, Italy

Italy Veneto Soave The Scaligero Castle

With vineyard views from turreted ramparts and towers, Soave Castle is a stunning and fully restored medieval fortress located in the idyllic Verona wine region. Dating back to the 12th century, the castle is known for its history of barbarian invasions and feudal lord disputes. Today, the castle is open to the public year-round, and visitors can partake in guided tours that conclude on the roof with spectacular panoramic views of the vineyards and surrounding villages of Soave.

While the castle itself doesn’t have a wine cellar, you can still experience Soave wines by taking a twenty-minute walk to visit Cantina del Castello, a historic winery and cellar located along the main street of the Soave village. Here, you can sip unique styles of volcanic Soave DOC wines such as Ripasso, Amarone della Valpolicella, Soave Classico and Soave Brut.

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