Wine tourism is an ever booming industry. The lure of getting away from it all for a week of lush green vineyards and fine vino is one few can resist. Here is the lowdown on a number of wine producing holiday destinations:
Vienna is already a top tourist destination due to its stunning architecture and elegant, arty, after dark scene whilst Austria as a whole is a big name on the international wine scene due to the dry white and dessert wines produced in the area. This October Vienna is playing host to the European Wine Bloggers conference; cementing the country's importance on the international wine scene. Most wine producing areas are located in the east of the country particularly in the states of Niederösterreich and Burgenland. A great resource to discover more about the wine scene in Austria is the Austrian Wine blog. If you get tired of sipping on Austrian Gruener and feel particularly brave it's worth sampling some Mata Hari Absinthe. This is a unique style of Absinthe which traces its roots back to Bohemia, which now forms part of modern day Austria. The Bohemian style of Absinthe is lighter in anise and has a slightly more bitter taste. It is drunk in a ritualistic manner involving icy water dripped on a sugar cube which rests on an absinthe spoon. As the water and sugar mix with the liquor the Absinthe becomes cloudy, this is known as the louche effect. Lighter drinkers can add Absinthe and Lemon rum to a traditional Mojito recipe for an interesting twist on a classic.
New Zealand found worldwide recognition as a wine producing nation after winning rave reviews for its Sauvignon Blanc, described by wine critic Oz Clarke as ‘arguably the best in the world’. The best Sauvignon Blanc is said to come from Marlborough region of New Zealand’s South Island. NZ Wine Pro tours have been recommended by Fodors New Zealand Guide 2009 & 2010 edition and run tours in Auckland and the surrounding areas, including a visit to the Villa Maria Estate which is the most awarded & largest privately owned wine company in New Zealand.
Australia is the world’s fourth largest exporter of wine and exports over 760 million litres each year. Recent trends include the growth of biodynamic and organic wines and the country hosted the First International Biodynamic Wine Forum in Beechworth in 2004. Grape varieties include Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay,Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, and Riesling. Wine tours can be found throughout the country; however Margaret River Wine Tours are particularly popular. The Margaret River Wine Region is a tourist attraction located in the corner of Western Australia. As well as wine tours the region also boasts a Mediterranean climate, great surfing and stunning beaches. Hunter Valley is another often mentioned wine tourism destination; Hunter Valley Cheese and Wine tours allow you to taste up to twenty different varieties of wine as well as teaching you how best to taste so that you get the most out of your visit.
Italy and Tuscany
Italy and Tuscany are probably the places that you first think of when it comes to wine tourism. The image of living 'la dolce vita' in the Mediterranean countryside is a potent and seductive one. Since 1980, Vin Marottoli's Wine Lovers Tours has been offering exclusive and unique wine tours to wine regions across the globe, in such countries as France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Portugal, Chile, Argentina, the United States, and more. Villa Gaia Cooking And Wine Tours provide gourmet food and wine tours in Tuscany. Italian Gusto provides wine tours combined with art and food for a complete cultural experience. Greve in Chianti is an informative website about the Chianti Classico area of Tuscany and contains exhaustive direct accommodation listings for vacation accommodation in Chianti. Italian Wine Tours run tours in Tuscany, Sicily, Piedmont, Veneto-Friuli and Apulia. Wine Lovers tours run tours around the world including one in called 'La Famiglia' which covers the wine, culture and cuisine of Italy.
South Africa is a hot destination at the moment after the, trouble free, World Cup. South Africa produces modern, 'new world' wines including varieties from the country's signiture red wine grape: Pinotage. Wine regions include Stellenbosch, Paarl and Constantia. In a recent blog exhaustive African travel site Travel Concepts challenged their team to choose just one wine estate that they would visit if they had the chance. You can read the full article here, choices included Haute Cabriere in Franschhoek for its great views and sparkling wine, and the exclusive Steenberg Estate for its five star amenities and excellent wines. Travel Concepts MD Richard Holt is a real wine enthusiast and recommended to us the following web sites for those travelers to South Africa wanting to visit the famous wine lands:
• www.wine.co.za- a great web site on all things South African wine, bags of information on all the wine estates, latest wines etc
• www.sawinesonline.co.uk- Great place to buy your South African wines in the UK. Good choices and immediate courier to your door. We use them all the time to deliver special wine gifts to our clients
• www.wineaplatter.com- The bible of South African wine. An annual directory that rates every single South African wine, picks out lists of favourites and category winners. Great to use when visiting wineries here
• www.undertheinfluence.co.za Great web site and a cult following here for their wine tastings and tours. A couple of postings on our blog of recent tasting evenings.
• www.spitorswallow.co.za local site, independent views and rates of wine estates.
For a guided tour try Luhambo Tours - Wine Tours in Cape Town, South Africa: a Cape Town based tour operator that specializes in wine tours throughout the Cape region including Cape Town, the Cape Winelands (Stellenbosch and Franschhoek) and the Garden Route. The company provides small groups tours and specialised wine guides.
If you have a taste for dramatic vistas and a love for the great outdoors, British Columbia may well be your ideal destination for a wine based holiday. British Columbia is often marketed as a winter destination due to snowsport hotspots such as Whistler and Banff. However the summer months provide warm weather, beautiful lakes to swim in and wildlife viewing opportunities such as whale watching. Key areas include Kelowna, which features 3 different wine regions and 19 wineries, and Vancouver Island which plays host to over 36 wineries and boasts a great dining scene and informal atmosphere. Club Wine Tours and Okanagan Dinner and Wine Tours run various tours around the area. Outside of BC Niagara Vintage Wine Tours runs tours around the dramatic Niagara Wine Country in Ontario and aims to provide an educational experience whilst giving you the chance to tour the largest underground barrel cellar in Ontario and visit some of classic family wineries.
For me Napa Valley is on of the first places that comes to my mind when wine tourism is mentioned; LI Vineyard Tours offer tailor made packages for any occasion.
China is probably not the first place that springs to mind when thinking of vineyard tours and wine tasting. However, there is a thriving scene in the country that will give you the chance to sample high quality wines in an exotic location whilst experiencing a truly different culture. China Wine Tours provide a guided experience of this rapidly growing industry including visits to the haunting terracotta warriors and The Great Wall of China.