Travel Italy: Wine Tours

When it comes to being a wine tourist and going on wine tours, Italy is one of the top destinations. Nearly all areas of the country boast some kind of wine production and pair this with Italian cuisine and you have a perfect foodie holiday. There are lots of different options when going on a wine tour with group tours being among the most popular – but why do people favour these guided options over just going on your own?

Benefit of guided tours

One of the big benefits to using a local guide for a wine tour is the language barrier – sure some people will speak a little English and you may speak a little Italian. But there are always times when the two parties simply have no idea what each other mean – that’s where a bilingual guide comes in. They can act as a go-between with you and the people working in the wineries to help make the most of the trip.

Group tours are often cheaper than booking a tour for just one or two people as many companies will give discounts for bigger numbers. This means you can get to do more with your holiday budget – or spend more on wine at the shop afterwards!

Using local guides also means you can find all the hidden secrets that someone from the area might not know. Think about yourself and where you live – you know the best pubs and restaurants, the top hotels and places to avoid. By working with a local guide, you can get those same benefits wherever you go.

Where to visit

Once you have decided on the format of your tour, the next thing to consider is where to go and almost every part of Italy has some kind of wine production. Here are a few of the top regions to consider:

Veneto

Veneto is one of the most important wine regions of Italy and located in the north-east of the country. It produces more wine in more styles than anywhere else and is best known for its prosecco, soave as well as reds and whites made from blends of grapes.

Marche and Abruzzo

Marche and Abruzzo are two neighbouring regions that are in the centre of the country and are most known for their white Verdicchio and red Montepulciano grapes. The history of wine making in Marche dates to Etruscan times, before the Romans and there are over 25,000 hectares devoted to grape growing. Abruzzo has over 89,000 hectares of grape growing land.

Tuscany

Tuscany is one of the most famous regions in Italy in general and is one of the most prolific wine producing regions in Europe. It produces everything from dry whites to full bodied reds as well as sweet wines and many are recognised as DOC and DOCG, top levels of quality in Italian wine.

The perfect wine tour

With the variety of landscape and types of wine produced around Italy, there is something for every taste and means that being a wine tourist to the country is a perfect holiday.

Travel the Wine Country of France

France is a country known for many things but one of their most famous exports is wine. From Champagne to many reds and whites, the country has a lot to offer for the wine tourist. Here we look at the best areas to travel to enjoy both the country and its wine.

Champagne

Did you know that only sparkling wine produced in the Champagne region of France is allowed to bear the name ‘champagne’? The area is to the north-east of Paris and is one of the two most northerly wine producing regions in the country. If you are travelling from the UK, it is also the quickest to reach, less than three hour’s drive from Calais.

The region is called the Champagne-Ardennes region and the capital is Chalons while the largest city is Reims, a university town that is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, containing a 13th-century cathedral and 11th-century abbey. Some of the biggest names in champagne production are based in the area including Taittinger and Ruinart, the oldest which was founded in 1729.

Bordeaux

The classic red Bordeaux, also known as claret, is famous around the world and was first exported back in the 12th century when the British King Henry II developed a taste for it. The wine region is within the Gironde department and is the largest in France, covering some 120,000 hectares. Around 90% of the grapes are for Bordeaux but there are some sweet whites called Sauternes, dry whites, roses and sparkling wine created in the region.

The city of Bordeaux is home to the bi-annual Wine Festival that is due to be hosted again in 2018 and there are also a lot of tours around the vineyards in the area. You can visit the medieval town of St Emilion while the Vezere valley in nearby Dordogne is the location of one of the oldest known sites of human habitation – the Lascaux caves.

Burgundy

Burgundy sits on a major road from Paris to Lyon and has been a wine making area since the time of Charlemagne. Today’s wine making uses many of the same techniques, producing limited numbers from small vineyards with reds using Pinot Noir grapes and whites using Chardonnay grapes in the majority of cases.

Dijon is the centre of the region and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with the Ducal Palace, cathedral, city hall and the Guillaume Gate being notable attractions. There is a big food festival every autumn where other local specialities such as Dijon mustard and beef bourguignon are celebrated.

Loire Valley

The Loire Valley is the central wine making region and crosses several departments, mostly along the River Loire, the longest river in France. Nantes is the largest town in the region, near the Muscadet region with its white wines while Samur is the centre of the sparkling wine production, made with Chenin Blanc grapes. Angers is the centre of the white wine production in the region. There are also any number of medical towns, abbeys and monasteries spread across the area.