For the first timer, it may come as a surprise that there is more than one way to experience European wineries. In fact, there are many options to suit your interests, itinerary, budget and lifestyle, so if you’re thinking about a trip to Europe to taste some special wines and enjoy the food and scenery this summer, take a moment to consider your options:
Perhaps the most obvious, and possibly the easiest winery visit option is to go on a package tour. This might be a private or group tour, and has many pros: accommodation and transport is usually included, and you get the expert advice and inside knowledge from your experienced guide. This is useful for those who would rather leave the driving to someone else – especially if you plan to enjoy the wines on offer!
If you want a more free-form experience, consider getting planning a self-drive itinerary. A winery expert will be able to assist with the planning of the best route and stop-offs, sharing tips on the must-taste wines and helping with booking accommodation along the way.
For the energetic, a popular summer option is to cycle between vineyards through the beautiful countryside. A tailor-made cycle tour will provide you with detailed map (you don’t want to be relying on a smartphone!). Seek advice on what regions are most suitable for cycling and the rest of the nitty-gritty details so you can relax and enjoy the ride.
What is wine without food, or food without wine? For those foodies who can’t do without either, a gourmet travel experience is a must. Some wineries offer tasting menus with matched wines – perfect for a decadent long lunch in a truly picturesque setting. You will also learn about regional wine-making techniques and characteristics, as well as signature dishes and produce from the area, and impress all your food-lover friends.
If you’re looking for a luxury option, there is luxury aplenty available in Europe – stay in stately 18th Century châteaux, castles, five-star hotels, architect-designed houses ,visit the birthplaces of the most revered names in wine – Krug, Moët & Chandon, Bollinger, Dom Pérignon – and eat at Michelin-star restaurants.
Vivienne Egan writes for tailor-made wine tour operators SmoothRed.