Wine Appreciation Destinations are Huge
Everyone I know seems to be having a love affair with wine, and not just what it’s their glass. They are also intrigued by the history, the culture, the romance. If you ever dreamed of visiting some of the premier wine regions of Europe here are some great guidelines.
My first experience with awe-inspiring vineyards was in the Tuscany region of Italy. Tuscany is easy to access; it’s just a short drive north of Rome. You can opt to stay in a villa and explore the area independently with your own car, or you can experience the area on an escorted tour for a few days before going on to the next regions. Either way, if Tuscany isn’t on your bucket list you should add it today.
The wine producing regions in Italy began with the Etruscans and pre-date both the Greek and Roman civilizations. It is believed the Greeks actually civilized the Etruscans and the Romans copied their wine producing practices.
The hills of Tuscany have been producing grapes and wine for thousands of years. The beauty of those vineyards is incomprehensible, especially in the early morning or late evening hours. Wine tastings are literally steeped in history, and the food that goes along with the wine is pretty amazing as well.
France is another region known for the production of world-class wines, and it also owes its wine making history to the Etruscans. It’s a second destination that should be on ever bucket list, and in my opinion the cuisine there is even better than Italy.
The Provence area of southern France is world famous for Rose’. The area is visually stunning (Van Gogh spent years painting some of his most famous works in the region) and has a wide variety of Roman ruins, so there’s truly something for everyone in this destination. The area is easily experienced through independent travel, river cruising, ocean cruising or escorted touring.
The Burgundy region of France is one of the main wine producing areas in Europe. It is well known for both red and white wines, mostly made from Pinot noir and Chardonnay grapes and is located just east of Paris and north of the Provence region. It is easily accessible on an escorted tour, a Rhone and Saone River cruise, or during your independent travel.
The Champagne region of France is just as visually stunning as all of the aforementioned areas, and is known for, you guessed it, champagne. A sparkling white wine called “champagne” is lawfully bound to have been produced in this northeastern region of France. This area is easily enjoyed by either independent travel or on an escorted tour.
The Douro River in Portugal is one of the most beautiful in Europe, and the hillside vineyards add to that stunning scenery. Touring this region by river cruise offers unparalleled views of lush terraced vineyards. The entire region is a UNESCO world heritage site so this itinerary appeals to lovers of wine, history, art and culture. I’ll be touring this region on an escorted tour in 2018 and will be able to add not only the river but the entire northern region of Spain to the experience as well.
The Wachau Valley in Austria is another simply stunning vineyard experience. I’ll never forget the views while we were cruising down the Danube, in my opinion that’s the best way to view the region.
All of these regions have appeared on my bucket list, and I’ve returned to several of them many times over. If you want to experience a more sophisticated vacation focused on wine, food, history and art, a wine themed trip is sure to include all of the above.
Joy Gawf-Crutchfield owns and operates The Joy of Travel