Top 10 Trips for Wine Enthusiasts
Imagine taking a trip to drink champagne in Champage or port wine in Porto. What could be more satisfying? Answer: If that same trip has you biking the incredible Rue des Vins d’Alsace or hiking along the Douro River Valley’s terraced vineyards between sips. With these top trips for wine enthusiasts, you can savor the local lifeblood while actively exploring stunning wine regions around the world!
Italy has the perfect climate and terrain–not to mention ambience–to produce world-class vino. On our Piedmont to Portofino trip, savor marvelous Barolo, made from the nebbiolo grape and often described as one of Italy’s finest wines. Enjoy exclusive tastings in the subterranean wine cellars of Canelli and during a visit to Villa Sparina’s private cellar. Combine the indulgence of Piedmont and Portofino’s food and drink with all the perks of active travel and you may never want to go home.
On our Rhine River trip, we bike along the Route des Vins d’Alsace, one of the oldest wine routes in France, as well as the famed Deutsche Weinstrasse in southwest Germany. Both regions are renowned for superb white wines, including some of the most highly regarded dry rieslings in the world. Compare a riesling to an aromatic gewürztraminer and a full-bodied pinot gris, and you’re sure to leave with a favorite.
Rosés–made from full-bodied grenache, fruity cinsault or well-aged syrah grapes, just to name a few–rise to stardom in France’s Provence. If you prefer reds, the Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation is best known for its earthy and gamy grenache noir. White wines are always an option, too, although they account for just 5% of wine production in the region! No matter which wine you fancy, you’re sure to relish biking through scented lavender fields, stunning Gorges de la Nesque canyon and the breathtaking clifftop villages of Murs, Lacoste and Bonnieux.
In Italy’s Tuscany, ride your bike through tiny wine villages and hills lined with vineyards as far as the eye can see. Shake the hands of wine makers and sommeliers at various private tastings, including at Italy’s best Brunello di Montalcino winery. Tuscany specializes in quality and quantity, with sangiovese grapes for Chianti reds, vernaccia grapes for Vernaccia di San Gimignano whites and a blend of varieties for vin santo dessert wine. Salute!
Finally! The chance to drink real champagne in Champagne! We head to the Moët & Chandon estate for a très chic champagne–paired dinner. As we move eastward, we join the Rue des Vins d’Alsace through the lush valley where 90% of the grapes grown are used for white wines, and almost all of which are varietally labeled. This means only one type of grape is used in the wine–they’re never blended.
Favor dessert wine? Join the Douro River Cruise and float along 2,000 years of winemaking history in the Douro Valley. From Spain to the western shores of Portugal, the Douro River snakes its way through some of the most mountainous and rugged wine regions of Portugal, yielding rich, complex wines. Much like drinking champagne in Champagne, it’s quite a unique and satisfying experience to taste port in Porto, visiting cellars that are several hundred years old.
Gain a new appreciation for a bottle of Bordeaux after experiencing an enlightening tasting with a local connoisseur. Then ride past vineyards of Pomerol, where you can see the grapes still on the vine before being harvested. In Dordogne, learn about the “noble rot” of the grape, giving the region’s wines an unforgettable sweetness. The incredibly intricate and diverse flavors of wine here are just waiting to be savored.
Croatian wines date back some 2,500 years, but it wasn’t until the mid-1990s that they came back on the map of today’s wine world. The Dalmatian Coast is one of four major wine-growing regions in Croatia, where a warm and sunny climate is perfect for cultivating rich and fruity white wines. You may not have heard of most of the country’s 800 wineries, but Croatia is the place to discover and explore a still humble wine culture.
California has a lot to boast about, but its wine production is objectively outstanding. In the late 1970s, Northern California wines were brought to the world’s attention when Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars and other California wineries began to outrank French wines. Our Backroads bike tour gives you endless opportunities to stop and taste your way through five famous valleys of vineyards: Napa, Sonoma, Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River. Tip: bring and extra suitcase to bring bottles home with you!
With plenty of sunshine, Southern California holds its own when it comes to exceptional wine–and exceptional scenery. Ride palm-fringed bike paths along the sun-kissed Pacific Coast before sipping of some of the region’s best chardonnay in stunning Santa Barbara. Then pedal beneath chaparral hills to the oasis of Ojai, a flower-filled city with small-town charm, for a taste of fruity and exuberant syrah. And it’s not just the wines that are delectable here–the area’s home to succulent pixie oranges, creamy avocados and rich olive oils, so get your taste buds ready!