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5 Great Places to Retire to Where the Wine is Good—

December 1, 2018 Statistics & Trends No Comments Email Email

A new report from the editors of, details five great wine-producing regions to retire to. In many of the best retirement destinations overseas, not only is the cost of living lower than in Australia, but the wine produced locally is top-class too.


International Living Australia’s report explores five retirement areas for wine lovers—in Italy, Bali, Spain, Thailand and France—which offer good-value living, dreamy surrounds, a relaxed pace of life and affordable living.


Wine is produced in just about every part of Italy, with each region claiming for its wines a special taste and character. Small wonder Italians are extremely proud of their wines.

Umbria, the region that lies between Rome and Florence at Italy’s geographic centre, 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 neighbour, 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 $2,110 a month.


“The island of Bali isn’t known as a world-famous wine destination, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find decent wine produced here,” saysInternational Living’s Bali Correspondent, Josephine Brierley. “In recent years, Bali winemakers have been resourceful, using a mix of local and imported grapes to create fresh, crisp wines which are both appealing and affordable.

Since 1994, Hatten wines have been making wine in Bali despite the critic’s and the tropical climate. Proving a champion, voted by the Asian Wine Review, they were announced the winner of the 2017 Asian Winery of the Year.

Their Two Island label produces wines using grapes imported from Australia and vinified in Bali. The vineyard is located close to the popular expat retirement haven, Lovina, on the north of the island—a quiet town known for its laid-back lifestyle.

Northern Bali offers ideal conditions for growing grapes due to the rich volcanic soil and dry climate. Here, farmers have been harvesting grapes for over 100 years.

“The crisp taste of the Pinot Grigio is extremely pleasant on a hot day,” says Josephine. “While a Reserve Red pairs well with the traditional Indonesian dish of Beef Rendang.

“Of course, another native to Bali is Sababay Winery. They also offer guided tours of their winery in Gianyar where retirees can learn more about Balinese wine.”

The tropical climate of Bali has enticed retirees for many years. Offering a relaxed, simple lifestyle with world-class dining at very affordable prices. Here, retirees can enjoy a comfortable life with a budget of around $1800 a month.


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 expat, 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 65 square metres to rent in the centre of the city for around $2,500 to $2,6500 a month. It’ll be less the further you are away from the pretty centre.”


“A flourishing wine industry in Thailand? Who would have thought?” says IL’s Thailand Correspondent, Michael Cullen. “Sure, the ‘Old World’ wine regions of Europe and the ‘New World’ wines from California, Argentina, Chile, Australia and New Zealand take the limelight. Yet, going against this ‘norm’ export quality wines are now produced in commercial volumes in Vietnam, Thailand and India—with Thailand leading the way.

“International wine writer Frank Norel coined the term ‘New Latitude’ wines back in 2003 to describe this new trend. One of Thailand’s most ambitious ventures is Siam Winery, founded by Thai businessman and heir to the Red Bull stable. The entrepreneur is developing Thailand’s wine culture with the Monsoon Valley label high up on the export list.

“But wine lovers have to be quick to get their hands on each new season’s award winners because around 70% of the year’s harvest goes directly into Europe, 20% to Japan and Hong Kong—not leaving much for local consumer.”

Michael recommends two key regions in Thailand to live close to great vineyards.

“Khao Yai is just two hours north-west of Thailand’s Capital, Bangkok, and home to GranMonte Vineyard,” he says. “This region is a true foodie and nature-lovers paradise and in my view a ‘must visit’ even without the vineyards. Here, you can rent with outstanding views of Thailand’s oldest and most significant national park in modern, fully furnished apartments for as little as $900 a month.

“Or consider my home town of Hua Hin on Thailand’s Royal Coast—just three hours south of Bangkok—home to the Monsoon Valley Vineyards. The city itself runs parallel to the beach, which is lined with fancy hotels and seafood restaurants. Hua Hin has an artsy feel. Expats can rent a fully furnished pool villa, big enough for the family, from $1,060 a month.”


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 centre, 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 centre 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 $4. $620 rents a furnished, three-bedroom apartment. That provides enough space for a couple to spread out—with a spare room for guests.

It’s less than $3 for the 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.

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