If you love wine, have you ever considered making a trip out of it?
From city breaks to countryside jaunts, visiting vineyards and wineries offers the perfect balance of history, adventure, and of course, great wine.
Whether you prefer to sip deep reds, light whites or effervescent bubbles, here are some of the best wine tours and experiences to please the palate.
Port of call
These days, port isn’t just for your granny at Christmas – younger drinkers are turning to this sweet wine too (especially when mixed with tonic). Seek out the secrets of this fashionable tipple in Porto, the Portuguese city and capital of the port wine trade.
Packed with history and charm, it offers city-break punch, and it’s made extra special by pairing it with a sojourn up the Rio Douro to the vineyards and ‘quintas’ (wineries) where port is produced. Stay two nights in each spot, travelling by train, and enjoy self-guided strolls and a tasting tour at a riverside quinta.
Stay: Four nights on a B&B basis with transfers, two dinners and a guided visit of Quinta De La Rosa costs from £745pp, excluding flights via Inn Travel.
Bollinger, Taittinger and Veuve Clicquot might be household names, but do you know why these brands’ golden bubbles generate such a buzz? Find out on a classic wine-tasting trip to France’s fabled Champagne region.
Depending on where you’re based in Britain, it’s easy to access by ferry, train or flight. As the home of the world’s most festive fizz, it’s never too early to raise a glass.
From your base in historic Reims, venture out to explore prestigious champagne estates including legendary Moët & Chandon, plus the hilltop village where Dom Pérignon once lived.
Stay: B&B accommodation, a full day’s touring and a tasting masterclass cost from £462pp for two nights, excluding flights via Grape Escapes.
Cycle and sip
From prosecco and pinot grigio in Italy to riesling found along the Rhine, Europe has plenty of famous wines – but those from Croatia do not rank among them. This is an oversight, as wines made from Malvasia and Teran grapes are outstanding.
Discover them on a self-powered holiday on the Istria peninsula, pedaling through sun-splashed vineyards. Following the maps provided, stop for lunch in traditional ‘konoba’ restaurants and pop into family-owned wineries to sample vintages you won’t find in your usual supermarket.
Along the way, stay in small-scale hotels and sample the region’s olive oil, truffles and Italian-influenced cuisine.
Stay: A week’s B&B with bike rental, luggage transfers, detailed maps and 24/7 support costs from £815pp, flights extra via Responsible Travel.
Grapes are a fruit, right? You might, therefore, think that the wine they become would be suitable for plant-focused palates – but the wine-making process itself often uses animal-derived fining agents such as egg white and gelatin.
Dedicated vegans will find good news in California, where Sonoma County has nearly 20 vegan wineries. A private tour will take in whichever ones you wish to visit, vegan or otherwise. Round off the day by dining at a plant-based restaurant such as SingleThread in Healdsburg.
Stay: A four-night stay in Sonoma with car hire, return flights to San Francisco and a wine tour costs from £1,485pp via Bon Voyage.
South coast staycay
Not keen to travel overseas to find a vineyard? With English sparkling wine going from strength to strength, there’s no need. The chalky soils of the North and South Downs are very similar to those in Champagne, less than 100 miles away across the Channel.
As a result, English sparkling now rivals the French original for quality. Individual tours and tastings at Chapel Down (from £25pp) and Hush Heath Estate (from £45pp) are the way to do it on a budget – or, from your base in picturesque Rye, near the Kent-Sussex border, you can explore both wineries with Smooth Red’s private guided tour, then make the most of the coast with a stroll along Camber Sands, or mooch around Rye’s medieval streets.
Stay: A two-night escape costs from £759pp, including meals and a full day’s wine tour, smoothred.com. For day tours from £109pp see Wine Tours Of Kent.
Greeks bear gifts
Homegrown wine is a way of life in rural Greece – and Greek wines have evolved to earn international acclaim.
In Peloponnese, saunter round small-scale estates where wine-making is as old as the archaeological sites you’ll visit en route. In Nemea, sip the Palivou Wine Estate’s wares and visit the Temple of Zeus.
In Nafplion, sample ruby-red wines before checking out the city’s fortress. This small-group tour (minimum four people) includes transportation and a driver/guide.
Stay: Four nights from £678pp, including transfers, vineyard visits and B&B accommodation, flights extra via Wine Tours Greece.
Save over £60 on 12 bottles of world-class red wine with Metro Wine Club
Fancy a tipple without leaving your sofa? Join the Metro Wine Club, in association with Virgin Wines, and get a case worth £131.88 for just £65.88 – how’s that for some budget luxury?
This offer on these sublime new- and old-world reds also acts as the perfect introduction to our premium WineBank service. T&Cs apply. So, what are you waiting for?
To order, visit Virgin Wines or call 0343 224 1001 quoting VF2240. You must be 18 years of age or over to buy alcohol. New customers only, one case per customer. For full terms and conditions, click here