Julie Harrison - Wine Travel Destinations

Publish Date
Friday, 11 December 2015, 2:59PM
By Julie Harrison

Many wine regions of the world are wonderful places to visit and it has to be good if you can combine a love of wine with a great holiday.

France of course is an obvious choice when it comes to a wine tasting holiday. The good thing is that many of the wine regions are easily accessible. Both Champagne and the Loire Valley are just over an hour away from Paris by train making it possible to do a day trip from Paris if you are short of time. Of course the longer you have to explore the better. Further a field Bordeaux is still only 3 hours by TGV from Paris. It is relatively flat and a great region to explore by bike. The beautiful village St Emilion is a highlight as is the old town of Bordeaux City. Opening mid 2016 is the Cite du Vin. Located on the edge of the city on the banks of the Garonne this amazing piece of French architecture is a wine cultural centre and museum and will be a must-see for any wine enthusiast. One of my favourite parts of France is the Western Mediterranean coast which is home to the Languedoc-Roussillon wine region. The largest wine region of France, this area has undergone a transformation over the last few years from producing bulk low quality wines to producing excellent wines with great character that that are very good value. Whilst not so glamorous as the Eastern Mediterranean coast, this less touristy area has some wonderful towns and cities to visit such as Montpellier, Carcassonne , Nimes and Perpignan. The Romans were here and there are plenty of historical sites to visit like Pont du Gard and the amazing Arena of Nimes. The 13th century walled Medieval town Aigues Mortes looks today much as it looked a few hundred years ago. Add in closeness to Spain and the beautiful villages around the Pyrenees and Languedoc-Roussillon becomes a great place to explore.

Burgundy and Beaujolais are just a couple of hours from Paris on the TGV. The so called “Champs Elysee” of Burgundy is the Route des Grands Crus de Bourgogne.   This goes from Dijon in the North down to Santenay in the South. Here is where you find a large proportion of the Burgundy Grands Crus in villages such as Vosne- Romanee, Vougeot, Gevrey Chambertin, Chassagne-Montrachet, Puligny-Montrachet and Aloxe-Corton. Stunning countryside and wine with lots of interesting places to stay and eat.

The Barossa Valley, just over an hour north of Adelaide is arguably Australia’s most famous wine region but McLaren Vale, 45 minutes south of Adelaide airport is also a great place to visit. With over 74 cellar doors to choose from, great beaches, restaurants and accommodation it is an ideal holiday spot. From McLaren Vale you can explore the Fleurieu Peninsular and visit great seaside towns like Victor Harbour and Goolwa, which is located at the mouth of the Murray River. Kangaroo Island is also a short hop away! If you are a Riesling fan you must visit Clare which is under two hours drive north of Adelaide. The Clare Valley Riesling Trail is a 32km long cycling or walking track that takes you through the heart of the Clare Valley and allows you to enjoy a well deserved break at the winery cellar doors along the way.

Only 30km south of Florence is Greve in Chianti. With lots of quaint self-catering accommodation dotted around the surrounding hills Greve is the perfect place from which to explore the Chianti region. Greve has a great piazza to wander around and is surrounded by picturesque villages such as the historic Montefioralle and Panzano with historic Siena only 40km away.  The Montefioralle winery does tastings by appointment or to try a range of wines from the region look out for an Enoteca. The Enoteca Falorni in Greve has over 100 local wines to taste without you having to drive anywhere. You simply purchase a prepaid tasting card and use it to sample the local wines.

The main wine regions of South Africa are located close to the beautiful city of Cape Town in the Western Cape. Just a 45 minute drive from Cape Town is Stellenbosch, the most famous of the winelands. Stellenbosch boasts the oldest wine route, where it is possible to taste wine at over 40 wineries many of which have great restaurants.   Slightly Further a field are other wine areas such as stunning Franschhoek which is famous for wine and food, Paarl, Elgin and Walker Bay, where whale watching as well as wine tasting has to be on the agenda.

New Zealand of course boasts some wonderful wine spots so you don’t have to go too far from home to mix wine with travel and there are many other fantastic overseas destinations not mentioned here to visit. It is exciting to discover new places and new styles of wine that you can search out on your return home.

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