Car-Free Trips to Reach Renowned Wine Regions
If you’re a wine enthusiast like me, visiting the world’s top wine producing regions easily – and safely – is probably something you’ve considered. As a reluctant driver, especially when wine is involved, I’ve done some research!
This region has a great tourism infrastructure and I can develop multi-day or day trips to many of the best wineries. The Bordeaux Tourism Board and small companies offer excellent day trips to some of the region’s best wineries – famous names that aren’t as accessible to individuals not in the industry.
Another fantastic option is a river cruise that gives you access to the revered wineries and wine towns serious wine enthusiasts dream of visiting.
Easily reached on a day tour from San Francisco, or base yourself in the area’s small inns or inn-like hotels. From downtown Sonoma or Healdsburg, you have a wealth of nearby wineries accessible by short drives, or bicycle. Private tours can be arranged by limo services who offer seamless touring at top vineyards, or you can use the Napa Wine Train to get from place to place. You’re also well positioned to visit Thomas Keller’s iconic French Laundry.
Private or group day tours can be arranged from Lyon, or the small towns in Burgundy like Beaune.
Many river cruise companies that serve the Rhone stop in Beaune on the way to Dijon for the train to Paris, but they’re not as wine intensive as the Bordeaux cruises. These cruises also stop in Vienne for Beaujolais and/or Tournon for visits to Tain L’Hermitage.
Chateauneuf du Pape
This stellar wine region is worth a few days in one of the small hotels in the town of Chateauneuf, or nearby. Visitors to the area with less time or who do not want to drive, may be satisfied with a day trip from Avignon. A couple of weeks ago, I had a noteworthy 10am tour and tasting in Chateauneuf du Pape, including the white wines that never leave France.
A wide range of organized or private tours can be done from many of the area’s larger towns, including Florence. There’s even a company based in Siena that will transfer you between Rome, Florence or Siena with stops at wineries and historical sights. In November, I am checking out a driver that trusted friends highly recommended to taste some Big Tuscans.
As a new agent, one of the first trips I arranged was for the leader of my NYC wine group. With my intensive love of doing trip research, I discovered a town in Rioja with several well known, top producers right in town. Between the wineries and it’s 14th Century hotel in a former convent, this town is one of my proudest finds!
Discover the wineries of Mendoza on full or multi-day tours from Mendoza. Guided day tours by bus or bicycle are available. Check out the region’s finest wineries in Lujan de Cuyo, or the Uco Valley. Or sample the wines at bodegas right in Mendoza, which is well combined with a visit to Buenos Aires, Patagonia and Uruguay.
The Loire Valley
This under-rated wine region is full of AOCs that produce crisp whites known for moderate acidity and minerality, fruity or earthy reds, and dry roses. There are also sweet whites produced in the region. Chinon, Sancerre, Saumur – and a whole lot more. The Loire valley is also know for its castles and a must visit for historians or those interested in Joan of Arc. One river cruise company makes it easy to visit the Chateaux and wineries in the Loire.
Finger Lakes and North Fork – New York
If you live in NYC, or want a great add on to a city trip, the wine regions in the state will shock you with their fine quality. Winemakers on the Finger Lakes and the North Fork of Long Island have been making wines in the European tradition for decades. There are no group tours of the Finger Lake wineries but I work with a couple of driving services who will bring you to the area’s best wineries and/or breweries. In the North Fork, I can recommend a well-connected local who has been doing 4-stop wine tours for years.
In the coming years, I hope to be as knowledgeable about the wine regions of Chile, South Africa, and New Zealand, but work with great suppliers if you’re ready to delve deeper into these further afield wine regions.
Please contact me to book your dream wine destination.