Historic castles – check.
Mountains of cheese – check.
Famous artwork – check.
Centuries-old cathedrals – check.
Unique architecture – check.
The quintessential European holiday seems to have been covered: Gazing at the Mona Lisa, wandering around grand manors, admiring and imagining living in quaint villages and pretending you’re part of the von Trapp family for a day on the Sound of Music tour.
But have you thought about taking a few days to experience some of Europe’s finest produce right where it’s made? I’m talking, of course, about wine.
A winery tour is an ideal way to experience some of the best wines available. You can delve deep into the culture of local wine producers and their locations, finding out the many fascinating ways historical events and geographical and economic factors have impacted on production of wine over the centuries – with techniques over years of trial and error. Handily, wine destinations are frequently perfectly placed as a stopover between two major destinations: here are a few suggestions of ways to break up your holiday:
Don’t make the mistake of thinking France is only about Paris. It has many exciting regions – Chablis and Champagne, for instance, are great to stopover from the north to the South of France; Alsace meanwhile is perfectly positioned to break up the journey to the Alps or French Riviera.
A few short hours from Rome lie the Tuscan Hills, famed the world over for its September harvest festivals, glorious sunshine, glittering sea and gorgeous wines. A magnificent expanse of cultural intrigue, spectacular environment and gastronomic adventure, Tuscany should be high on the list of anyone spending some time in Italy.
Known for cities like Barcelona and Madrid, Spain’s countryside sometimes gets overlooked in favor of beaches, but don’t forget that some of its wine regions like La Rioja date back almost a millennium, producing wines that are a worthy companion to the plentiful tapas, paella and other exciting flavors. Try combining Rioja and Ribera del Duero as a perfect stopover on the way to Portugal.
On a trip through Europe, there are plenty of reasons to visit all the major cities, but don’t forget that more rural areas offer many delights, particularly for anyone with a taste for great wine and food. Dual destination holidays combining a wine region and another attraction are very popular choice for European travel.
Vivienne Egan writes for SmoothRed who provide tailor-made wine tours in Europe.