Holiday ideas for wine lovers

Our holidays in Europe’s vineyard regions can be purely about the local wines – we provide you with information on where you can call in for tastings – or equally, you can combine wine with…
 

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  • Wildlife-rich islands, and sundowns which are ‘the most beautiful in the world’, according to Alfred Hitchcock, are not the only delights that await you as you tour Croatia’s Adriatic coastline – there’s the crystal-clear, cobalt sea; the town of Zadar with its tree-lined waterfront and marble streets; Roman remains; and the medieval villages which are dotted across the northern region of Istria. It’s this heart-shaped peninsula that is at the forefront of Croatia’s wine scene. The best-known is Istrian Malvasia, whose fresh taste makes it a great accompaniment to seafood, while the lesser-known Teran and Refosk reds have a deep ruby colour and fruity aroma.
  • Not many of our cycling holidays can boast mountain views, but our Orchards & Vineyards itinerary can. And what views they are, especially since you don’t need to exert yourself to enjoy them (in fact, the routes are relatively gentle). Instead, you wind your way through the neat rows of vines and apple orchards which coat the valley floors and lower slopes. The abundance of vineyards means no shortage of wines, particularly Vernatsch, Lagrein and Gewürztraminer, which perfectly enhance the South Tyrol’s distinctive cuisine.
  • The Serra Arrábida boasts castles, a stunning coastline and Portugal’s best-known cheese, not to mention some great walking, yet it remains virtually undiscovered, despite its being just a stone’s throw away from Lisbon. As you journey eastwards over the course of the holiday, you walk through valleys cloaked with vineyards, with chances to taste the excellent wines – including the famous Moscatel dessert wine – produced from the grapes.
  • The rolling Chianti Hills are carpeted with a patchwork of olive groves, vineyards, ancient stone farmhouses, and occasional cypress trees reaching up towards the warming sun. The delicious, rustic Tuscan cuisine and the region’s velvety red wines would be enough to complete the picture. The fact that this walking holiday ends in Siena, one of the world’s greatest art cities, is an added bonus, giving an even fuller picture of Tuscany’s charms.
  • Fittingly, our cycling holiday in Gironde starts and ends in Bordeaux, capital of the French wine trade, as well as visiting famous St Emilion. As you would expect, there are numerous vineyards along each day’s route where you can call in for tastings of the world-famous clarets (the perfect accompaniment to the rich cuisine), but, equally, this holiday is about visiting handsome fortified villages with intriguing, if somewhat tumultuous, histories – many changed hands between the French and English several times during the Hundred Years War.
  • For a holiday that is indulgent on every level, our two-wheeled exploration of Burgundy’s renowned wine country is hard to beat. Famous reds such as Nuits St Georges – and whites like Puligny-Montrachet – are complemented by an equally superb regional gastronomy. By day, as you follow the excellent network of cycle trails, you can feast your eyes on all manner of architectural gems, from Romanesque churches and majestic abbeys to Renaissance châteaux and fortified mansions. To top it all off, you stay in four high-quality hotels of great character.
  • Stroll through the villages on Alsace’s route des vins and you may well feel as though you are exploring illustrations in a fairy tale. The steep-roofed, half-timbered houses are painted in delicate shades of pink, green, blue and yellow, while red and pink flowers spill from window boxes. The nesting storks that sit atop chimney stacks in spring just add to the illusion. All in all, towns and villages such as Kaysersberg, Colmar, Ribeauville and Riquewihr are just as great an attraction as the fruity Rieslings and Sylvaners, the fuller-bodied Gewürztraminer, and the rich Tokay Pinot Gris.
  • Iseo is the smallest and least-known of Lombardy’s four major lakes, but is a true jewel, with imposing, angular mountains and deep gorges to the north, and the delightful Franciacorta vineyards in the hills to the south. Grapes were first planted here in Roman times but the wines – the acclaimed sparkling whites, and the Pinot Nero blends – remain as great a secret as the lake itself, serving as the perfect accompaniment to the refined cuisine of lake fish, delicious meats and distinctive local cheeses to which you are treated at the top-quality 4-star hotels.
  • Our holidays in the Loire are some of the gentlest in our selection. The walking and cycling is enjoyable, but the emphasis is squarely on the region’s wine and châteaux, an alluring combination. There is plenty of time to visit the elegant castles en route – turreted Azay-le-Rideau, sumptuous Ussé, and imposing Chinon – and to stop at vineyards for tastings of both the deliciously refreshing dry whites and the fruity and flavoursome Saumur reds. Combine this with lazy picnics on the river bank, and you have all the ingredients for a very relaxing holiday.
  • To set the scene, our Valley of Gold (Douro means ‘river of gold’) walking holiday starts in Porto, with time to explore the friendly, UNESCO-protected capital of the port wine trade. You then catch the train eastwards – a wonderful experience in itself, given that the railway line hugs the riverbank – to the timeless landscapes where the wine originates. Besides the wine, perhaps the greatest feature of this walk is the richly coloured scenery – the views over neatly striped vineyards, silver-green olive groves, rugged hills and seemingly forgotten villages are breathtaking.
  • Our Pyrenees to the Sea walk is, as its name suggests, a varied and rewarding journey from the warm, wooded slopes of the Pyrenees to the coastal village of Cadaqués, described by Salvador Dalí (whose house you can visit) as the ‘most beautiful village in the world’. The ever-changing scenery includes woodland of cork oaks; landscapes dotted with granite boulders and prickly pear; expanses of wild herbs and brightly flowering shrubs; and rolling vineyards that are earning recognition for their excellent modern-style reds.
 

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