Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wine Museums of the World: 10 to Visit Now

Neolithic Man
Archaeologists trace wine back to the Stone Age when Neolithic humans imbibed in the juice of naturally fermented honey, wild grapes and fruits.

The roots of winemaking go back as far as ancient Mesopotamia, so it’s no wonder we have an interest in the history, viticulture, and crafting of grapes and wine. Some say fermented beverages were a primary reason Western civilization developed!  And the story of wine is still being told today in numerous wine museums in the U.S, and around the world.

1) Arkansas Historic Wine Museum – Paris, Arkansas

Joseph Bachman
It’s true! Arkansas has a rich history in winemaking as this museum shows. Home to numerous exhibits, the museum houses a wine press, fermentation tanks, barrels, testing equipment, plus government records, and photos, along with diaries and correspondence from the father of Arkansas wine, Professor Joseph Bachman. In fact, the museum now has a second location in Hot Springs, Arkansas that opened in 2006.

2) Wine Museum of Greyton H. Taylor – Hammondsport, New York

Bully Hill
Taylor's Goat
Not your typical wine museum but then Bully Hill Winery is not your typical winery.  Established in 1972 on the original Taylor Winery site, the museum is composed of two buildings; the Cooper Shop with an amazing collection of barrels and cooperage from the early days of New York’s blossoming wine industry. The second building contains the artwork of Walter S. Taylor; paintings that went on to become several of Bully Hill’s famous wine labels. And don’t miss touring the winery itself. The Bully Hill story is uniquely American, the tours are fun, and the wines will "get your goat."

3) Kelowna Museums:
 BC Wine Museum – British Columbia, Canada 

VQA Wine Shop
The BC Wine Museum is a part of the Kelowna Museums and opened several years ago to focus on the history of wine production in the Okanagan Valley. The VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance) Wine Shop located at the museum offers only wines produced from 100% BC grapes, and many that are available here cannot be found anywhere else outside of their home wineries.

4) Vinopolis Wine Centre – London, England

Drinking and Displays
This is the adult Disney World of wine! Vinopolis is a wine museum and a wine tasting bar with five restaurants, eight event spaces and several shops located on the 2.5 acre site. The focus of the museum is wine history, wine culture and how to enjoy it. Choose from several tours starting with a basic self-guided tour to a wine and dine experience, and all tours include wine tastings. Or select a tour package that delves into select wine regions around the world; either way you’ll have a great time sipping and studing wine.

5) Desmond Castle
and International Museum of Wine Kinsale, Ireland

Desmond Castle
Wine Museum Exhibit
The International Museum of Wine is housed in a 16th century urban tower house with a sinister history. The “castle” was built around 1500 by the Earl of Desmond and used as a Customs house. In the 1700s it served as a prison for French and American seamen before becoming a jail and then a workhouse. The museum opened in 1997 and tells the story of Irish families who moved to France, Spain, Australia and California to make their livings exporting wine back to the Emerald Isle.

6) Weinmuseum – Spires, Germany

Weinmuseum Exhibits
Wine Vessel
Located in the Historical Museum of the Palatinate, the exhibits at the Wine Museum focus on the cultural history of viniculture over the past 2,000 years. Displays include old bottling equipment, a large wine press from 1727, and 5,000 liter (1,321 gallon) barrels that are handcrafted and have been housed in the museum for over 100 years. Built in 1910, the weinmuseum was the first public museum devoted to vino.

7) Musee du Vin – Paris, France

Wine Tunnel
Order of Minims
This Museum of Wine is located under the hills of Passy in what once were limestone quarries dug to build the city. By the 16thcentury these vaulted rooms were used by the Brothers of the Order of Minims as wine cellars for the monastery. The Museum of Wine opened in 1984 and has a collection of over 2,000 artifacts highlighting viticulture, winemaking, cooperage, and items used to serve and taste wine.

8) Museo del Vino Vernaccia - San Gimignano, Italy

Museum Wine Press
This museum is dedicated to the history of one local white grape – Vernaccia – and the wines produced from it. Those wines include Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG, San Gimignano Rosso DOC, San Gimignano Rosato DOC, and San Gimignano Vinsanto. Overall production of Vernaccia wine is about 9 million bottles a year. The museum tour describes the origins of the grape and has displays of wine equipment from local Italian winemakers who have crafted Vernaccia wine. After the tour, visitors can sample several versions of Vernaccia to discover why this region is so proud.

9) Cyprus Wine Museum – Cyprus, Greece

Museum Display
The Cyprus Wine Museum began in 2004 but it’s roots stretch back to 1933 when pottery fragments were discovered in the city. Tested in 2005, the pottery was dated back to 3500 BC and deposits found inside the vessels indicated that wine had been produced in this region for over 5,500 years, thus making Cyprus the birthplace of wine in Europe. The tour includes the museum, St. Ilarion Hall, the Wine Trails, which tells the story of wine around the world, and a tasting of two local varieties of grapes, along with bread and cheese.

10) Vinseum – Catalan Wine Cultures Museum, Penedès, Spain

Museum Courtyard
This museum has a diverse collection of over 17,00 items relating to all things wine. What began as the Vilafranca del Penedès Museum in 1945 (the first wine museum in Spain), has evolved into the Vinseum, which showcases wine’s cultural affects on the country and the world. And when you’re done with the tour, enjoy a complimentary glass of Spanish wine.

And coming soon:

* California Wine Museum - Santa Rosa, California

James McCormick
The proposed California Wine Museum is slated to open in 2015 in Santa Rosa, California. The museum will contain over 4,500 artifacts from the collection of James McCormick, all relating to California’s wine heritage including art work, advertising, wine equipment, vineyard tools and ephemera. The tour will end with tastings of selected California wines. Learn more about the museum's displays and preparations at


~ Joy