Retirees don’t need deep pockets to live in the world’s top wine-producing regions, according to a new report from the editors of Internationalliving.com. In the right locales of respected wine regions, you can retire at a fraction of the cost back in the States.
Benjamin Franklin reportedly said, “Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance.” In many of the best retirement destinations overseas, not only is the cost of living lower than in the States, but the wine produced locally is great, and retirees can benefit not only from its enjoyment but also by appreciating the other attractive offerings these wine-producing regions have to offer.
International Living’s report explores five retirement areas for wine lovers—in France, Uruguay, Spain, Mexico, and Italy—which offer dreamy surrounds, a relaxed pace of life, and affordable living.
French wines hold what is arguably the most revered cultural status of all. With a history dating back to the Middle Ages, there are 12 major wine-growing regions in France, the most famous being Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Champagne. It’s thanks to France that we have well-known grapes like Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah.
Bordeaux is a wine-lover’s paradise, with everything from world-famous estates to small cellars barely known outside of France.
Boasting some of the finest wines in the world, it is also home to a special marathon in Médoc—a wine region just outside Bordeaux. Known as “the longest marathon in the world,” the Wine Marathon du Médoc is like no other. The marathoners don crazy costumes to match a theme that changes each year, then run 26.2 winding miles though scenic vineyards, downing wine, oysters, steak, and ice cream at the refreshment points along the way.
“Bordeaux offers good value for money compared to Paris,” says New York native, Barbara Diggs. “It’s a nice alternative to the high prices of the capital, if you want to be in a city in France. The real savings kick is if you’re there long-term. You can find furnished properties of 700 square feet to rent in the center of the city for around $1,800 to $1,900 a month. It’ll be less the further you are away from the pretty center.”
Uruguay doesn’t get much mainstream attention among South America’s wine countries. That’s a shame because, thanks to a climate and geography that mimics that of France’s Bordeaux region, Uruguay produces some excellent, full-bodied wines.
The town of Carmelo, about 150 miles from the capital, Montevideo, is one center of wine production. Carmelo is in a rural area, with plenty of open countryside to enjoy. Grape cultivation here includes that of a varietal originally from southwest France that has become Uruguay’s national grape: Tannat.
It’s a robust red that pairs nicely with the grilled meat that plays a large role in Uruguayan cuisine. Tannat is also often blended with other varietals for a more mellow taste.
The tranquilo (calm) lifestyle attracts expats to Uruguay, especially to the capital Montevideo. Here two people can live on $3,200 a month renting a one-bedroom, furnished apartment in Pocitos, the most popular expat neighborhood in the city.
Spain’s La Rioja province is in the north, set in the Ebro river valley and at the foothills of the Cantabrian Mountains. The wines produced here are considered among the best in Spain, if not the world. About 85% are reds and come from several grapes, including Tempranillo and Garnacha, which are usually blended to create a classic Rioja vino tinto.
Vineyards cover the region. But the wineries, where the grapes are crushed and the new wine is aged in oak barrels, are clustered in Haro and the provincial capital, Logroño. This modern town, with its historic city center, is a great home base for exploring the region’s natural beauty and for sampling wines. And don’t miss the tapas bars on quiet back streets—these snacks are the perfect pairing for a glass of wine.
At the heart of the Ebro Valley, and with a population of around 150,000, Logroño is surrounded by mountains but still well connected. It’s just three hours from the center of historic Madrid, and four from lively Barcelona.
A wonderful reality of living in La Rioja is how much further a dollar stretches than at home. A bottle of good wine can be had for around $3. $450 rents a furnished, three-bedroom apartment. That provides enough space for a couple to spread out—with a spare room for guests.
It’s just a $2 bus fare to the pueblos (villages) with the best bodegas, where you can spend an entire afternoon touring, tasting, and talking to the bodega owners.
Our neighbor south of the border is well known for its tequila and mezcal, but Mexico also produces wines that are gaining increasing fame for their high quality.
“Mexico’s best-known wine region is northern Baja California, just north of Ensenada and only an hour or so south of the U.S. border,” say Glynna Prentice, International Living Mexico Editor. “Here, in the Valle de Guadalupe and nearby areas, more than 100 vineyards dot the landscape, from the oldest winery, Monte Xanic, and large producers like L.A. Cetto, to an increasing number of boutique wineries.
“The number of good wines—ranging from reliable to world-class, is astounding. Trendy new restaurants and hotels to accommodate visitors are cropping up, too. No wonder that the Valle de Guadalupe is becoming the hottest destination for oenophiles on the entire West Coast.”
But Baja is not Mexico’s only wine-producing region. Numerous states in central Mexico, including Aguascalientes, Coahuila, Guanajuato, and Querétaro are also home to wineries. Coahuila—home to the oldest vineyard in the Americas, founded in 1597—flies under the radar. But its little town of Parras is a wine mecca, producing reliably excellent wines from a number of producers, such as the venerable Casa Madero (producing wine for over 400 years).
Guanajuato, home to the expat haven of San Miguel de Allende, also produces wine. A string of wineries runs from near Dolores Hidalgo, about 30 miles west of San Miguel, to just south of the city. The “Guanajuato wine route” includes vineyards producing traditional as well as organic wines. The neighboring state of Querétaro is also home to several decent wineries.
A couple can live comfortably on a monthly budget of $1,650 in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
Italians are fiercely proud of their wines. And for good reason; wine is produced in just about every part of the country, with each region claiming for its wines a special taste and character.
Umbria, the region that lies between Rome and Florence at Italy’s geographic center, has an endless supply of attractive towns and picture-postcard landscapes that seems to encapsulate the best scenery and aspects of Italian life into one land-locked region.
Although Umbria may not make wines as famous as its neighbor, Tuscany, its winemaking can be traced back to the Benedictine monks. The vine-striped hills produce excellent wines—Sagrantino di Montefalco ranks up there among the most noted vintages and Orvieto is perfect for summer enjoyment.
Orvieto, a crisp and peachy white wine produced in the town of the same name, is one the better-known Umbrian wines and it accounts for nearly 80% of all DOC wine (a quality assurance label for Italian wines) made here.
Except for its lack of a coastline, Umbria offers everything that Tuscany does, but at a much more affordable price point. All told, retirees could have a pretty charming life in Umbria with a budget of around $1,560 a month.
More on the best places to retire for wine lovers can be found, here: 5 Great Places for Wine Lovers to Retire
This article was written by our friends at Internationaliving.com