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Planning your Vacation with Wine

Planning your Vacation with Wine is a great way of discovering new countries. Over the last 30 years I have visited wineries and vineyards all around the world giving me the opportunity to see many places that are definitely worth considering if you are planning a vacation.

I have just arranged a trip to Lebanon in October to visit wineries in the Bekaa Valley. It will be during the vintage, which is always fascinating to see, at the same time I will have the opportunity of discovering a city, Beirut, and the surroundings that I have never visited before.

One of my favourite destinations is Sicily, where Europe meets North Africa. The wines have improved incredibly since I first visited. Historically the island was a source of very cheap, uninteresting white wine and the fortified Marsala wines.  However, replanting vineyards with better quality grapes together with improved winemaking techniques have resulted in the wines from the island becoming trendy in the international markets.  While there I had the opportunity to visit the tiny island of Pantelleria, famous for its sweet moscato wines. The vines and planted on volcanic soils and are very low to the ground to protect them from the wind.  Many of Italy’s rich and famous, such as Giorgio Armani, have their summer homes here.

South Africa is another fantastic country to visit.  The flight is long, around 11 hours, however, because there is no time difference jet lag is not a problem.  Just an our inland from Cape Town you will arrive in the Stellenbosch and Paarl wine regions.   For the wine tourist the wineries in these areas are a great way of discovering new wines in beautiful surroundings.  For the more adventurous drive south to Elgin, about 80km from Cape Town, which has established a reputation for producing some of the country’s finest wines.

The Languedoc Roussillon, from Nîmes to Narbonne, is full of enchanting villages surrounded by vineyards.  My last visit was to Montpellier and visiting the villages in the interior, such as Aniane which is close to many pretty villages and towns such as Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert. Nowadays this region has changed its reputation for cheap, poor quality wine, to now being considered as the ‘New World’ of France.  Some of the most exciting wines in France are being made in the area.   An ideal driving holiday taking in the mountains and the sea make the Languedoc a perfect wine vacation for the Spring and Autumn.

Catch a flight to Vienna and visit Austria’s major wine growing regions Niederoesterreich (Lower Austria), Burgenland and Steiermark (Styria), some of the most stunning vineyard settings in the world.  The indigenous grapes such as the white grape Grüner Veltliner and the reds Zweigelt and Blaufränkisch, make really nice fruity wines that are easier to drink than to pronounce.

I am keen to visit the wine regions in Serbia and Croatia.  One of my sisters has recently moved to Belgrade so I think a visit is on the cards. These regions have been producing wines for thousands of years and in recent times following the fall of communism there is now a dynamic wine scene that I am keen to explore.  I will keep you posted.

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I am a Northern Irishman based in Valencia. My career in wine began more than three decades ago, in London. I am the founder of TheWinePlace.es, an online store, where wine enthusiasts can enjoy a selection of international wines and Verde Marte, a company dedicated to exporting Spanish wines. Also, Thewineplace.courses, an "approved program provider" of the courses of the prestigious WSET. I share my passion for wines through my media work writing weekly columns for the Spanish newspaper El Mundo and 5 Barricas, an online wine magazine.

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