The Best Time To Visit Vineyards

Category: Wine and Travel

The Best Time To Visit Vineyards

The Best Time To Visit Vineyards

As we move into the summer of 2022, my hope is that the pandemic setback which ended 2021 is short-lived and that we can resume our new normal. And that includes wine travel.

In the spirit of new travel beginnings, here are the wine regions you should plan to visit each season of the year!

Wine Regions to Visit Each Season of The Year


Best Wine Regions to Visit in Winter


Australia

Australia is a land of impressive beauty, the kindest and friendliest people, and outstanding food and wine.

During my 2019 visit, I got to spend time in South Australia, which is home to 60% of Australia’s wine production. The capital of Adelaide is a charming small city of 1.4 million. The climate is mild and the food, wine, and gin & tonic scene are second to none. It is close to the Indian Ocean with lots of opportunities to see kangaroos and koalas.

Within an hour’s drive, is the heart of their wine regions–Adelaide Hills, Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, and Clare Valley. Australia is a popular Shiraz region. You can visit well-known names like Penfold’s and d’Arenberg (the Cube, a green-and-white three-story Rubik’s cube of a building is a must-see). You can also venture to lesser-known labels like Bird in Hand or Yalumba, where you will gain a whole new perspective of Shiraz.

Wine Lovers Travel is currently creating a trip to Australia’s wine country for 2023 to be hosted by a California winery. Interested in joining us, click here to join our email list.



Tahiti Wine Region

Tahiti is so breathtakingly beautiful and perfect to visit in the Winter, that I have to include it on my list of wine regions to visit in Winter. There is a winery on Rangiroa, one of the commonly visited atolls. Dominique Auroy's Vin de Tahiti is surprisingly good, and a chilled glass of rose is just the thing after a day of snorkeling.

From the US, you would fly to Papeete, on the main island of Tahiti, and then travel from there to other islands from that point. My preferred method of travel to other islands is a cruise. Since Tahiti is completely dependent on imported goods, prices are very high. With a cruise, all of your lodging and food are covered and depending upon the cruise you choose, it may include excursions as well.

I sailed on Windstar, on a 10-day itinerary, which gave me a taste of both the Society (Tahiti) and Tuamotu Island. The Windstar is a small ship with only 150 passengers. There is a watersports platform so you can snorkel, paddleboard, or even jet ski right off the back of the boat. They have great food, and staff that knows you by name by your first day at sea! Plus a stop at Rangiroa to visit Dominique and taste her wines.



Visit South America wineries during winter

Wine is produced throughout the continent to our south, especially in Argentina and Chile. Argentina’s Mendoza region is famous for its Malbec, as well as international red varieties like Cabernet and Syrah. If you’re more of a white drinker, then you’ll be delighted with sampling their native grape Torrantés.

Fun fact: Did you know Malbec did not originate in Argentina? It actually comes from the Bordeaux region of France! It was brought to Argentina by missionaries in the 1500s to use for ceremonial purposes.


Visit Balkan Wineries in the Spring

As readers of my blogs know, I’ve been completely enchanted by recent visits to Croatia and Slovenia. These would be the perfect places to visit in springtime when the vineyards are blooming, the weather is mostly sunny and the crowds have not yet arrived for summer water sports on the Adriatic.


Croatia

Our lucky group of 16 travelers hosted by Harmony Cellars just returned in early May from what everyone says was the trip of their lifetime. We started in Zagreb on April 29, 2022, and spent 10 days touring the country, ending in Dubrovnik on May 8, 2022. We be visited a lot of small boutique wineries, as well as national treasures like Plitvice Lakes National Park. You can check out the full Croatia trip itinerary here.


Montenegro and Slovenia

Mountains, lush vineyards, the greatest seafood you’ll ever eat, and gracious people. Because The Balkans are not on everyone’s radar for wine, there are fewer crowds and you’ll feel like you are visiting authentic Europe, not a tourist mecca.


Georgia

Did you know that Georgia is the birthplace of wine-making? Archeologists believe that the land now known as Georgia had the first cultivated vineyards. Today, there are over 500 varieties of indigenous grapes, and almost all of the wine produced is from them.

Wine Lovers Travel is excited about planning a trip to Georgia, likely in spring 2023, where we’ll visit wineries that produce their white Rkatsiteli, a crisp, floral wine, and Saperavi, a high alcohol red that is best when aged.



Visit French Wine Country in the Summer

Visiting France either before Bastille Day on July 14 or after the French return from their summer beach holidays in late August is a perfect time. Days are long, the weather is warm (OK, sometimes hot…but you’re in France so what’s a little humidity!) and the food and wine are at their peak.


Rhône Valley

Like choosing a favorite child, I do have to admit that the Rhône is probably my favorite wine region. Maybe I’m a sucker for a great Chateauneuf-du-Pape or maybe because I love every town and city from Lyon to Avignon, but this region in eastern, central France is where my wandering heart goes.

Certainly touring on a river cruise is a great way to see the region, but I think a land trip will give you a much better sense of the region. You’ll be able to spend time exploring the differences between northern and southern Rhône wines.

Here's a hint: Northern wines are almost all Syrah, and hand-harvested from the steep vineyards which dot the river, Southern Rhônes are more likely to be blends, heavy on the Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre, and others like Cinsault, as well.

Wine Lovers Travel is currently planning a Rhône trip with a popular California winemaker for 2023. More later…



Bordeaux

The royalty of French wine regions, Bordeaux holds a lot of surprises. More on this in my previous Bordeaux Blog, based upon my recent visit.


Other regions

France is obviously one of the major wine-producing countries in the world, and certainly makes some of the most famous wines. You can visit the south–as in Provence, Côte d’Azur, or Languedoc, you’ll find each has its special charms and wonderful wine. You’ll be happy visiting any of these wine regions in the summer (though I’d hold off on Côte d’Azur until the end of summer when the crowds dissipate).

Eastern France, including Alsace, which has a wonderful Route du Vin to traverse, or Champagne, a surprisingly un-touristed area and perfect for you bubbles lovers, are also great choices.

And of course Paris, my favorite city in the world–although it should be avoided in the month of July.

A great way to see Paris and travel north to the Normandy Beaches is to join Hoyt Family Cellars on a Seine River Cruise on August 20-27, 2022.


Enjoy Italian Wine Regions in the Fall


Italy

Wine Lovers Travel has developed two unique itineraries for Italy that are perfect in fall. Circle of Flavors is a wine-and-food lovers’ dream come true! Starting in Milan, the itinerary takes you to Piedmont, Liguria, and Emilia Romagna, three of the greatest wine-producing regions in Italy. Barolo, Barbaresco, pasta with Pesto, Parma ham and more.


Sicily is another region of Italy that is less traveled that you should visit. Sicily is a melting pot of culture, including Greek, Arabic, Norman, and even British. Going during fall harvest is a delightful way to visit the island, tasting and sipping as you travel.

Both of these Italian itineraries are ready to be hosted by a winery owner, winemaker, or group leader. Contact me for more details.



This list is by no means all inclusive, but it is inspirational. Whether you come on a trip planned by Wine Lovers Travel or on your own, I encourage you to venture out there and see the world, as I like to say, through wine-colored glasses.


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