Apart from drinking wine I have had the good fortune of having travelled the world visiting many wineries. If you are a regular reader of this column you are aware that the wine growing countries are among the most beautiful in the world and with so many wines to be discovered here are travel ideas for wine lovers.
The Douro Valley in Portugal, is a UNESCO World Heritage wine region and one of the most visually dramatic places to visit with its steep, mountainous, terraced vineyards on the harsh schist soil. I really enjoy walking around the old town of Porto you can also visit the cellars located close to the River Douro from where these great wines have been exported for centuries.
You could easily combine a visit to the Douro and Galicia, what a dream trip for a wine lover.
North Western Spain has some of the most stunning vineyard regions to visit. Ribera Sacra and Valdeorras in Galicia are stunning with their steep, terraced vineyards. What could be better than a glass of Albariño with some local seafood?
The wineries and vineyards of the Basque country. Rioja Alavesa where you can visit several of the classic Rioja wineries, such as Marques de Riscal, even if it is just to marvel at Frank Gehry’s architecture or Santiago Calatrava’s remarkably impressive Ysios Winery near Laguardia. Not far from here you will find Bodega Eguren Ugarte, which also has a luxury hotel, as does Riscal. The Basque country is also home of Txakoli, a sharp, white wine wine, which is becoming popular in the USA and Japan.
Then keep on driving through the Pyrenees into France until you reach Bordeaux the most famous of all the classic wine regions. We know and recognise the names of the most famous wines in the world like Chateau Margaux, Lafite Rothschild, Latour and Haut-Brion but to go and see them and the vineyards is an excellent experience. It is another world and great to see, however, my advice is to visit some of the less known Chateau where they will allow you to taste the wine and buy directly. Also, Bordeaux is a bustling, thriving city well worth spending some time in.
Piedmont in Northern Western Italy is easily accessible by plane to Turin or by road, it is a full day’s driving but worth it. The home of the famous Barolo and Barbaresco wines made from the mighty Nebbiolo grape grown in the Langhe Hills. The town of Bra is beautiful and surrounded by rolling vineyards and several of the wineries have boutique hotels, such as Cantine Ascheri to stay and enjoy the wine and excellent local cuisine. While there you can also discover delightful wines made from Dolceto and Barbera as well as the light, sparkling wines from Asti made from Moscato.
I suggest that you phone ahead to reserve a visit and tasting at better known wineries, however, leave lots of free time to discover small local wineries.