Travel Tips: How to Make the Most of a Trip to Wine Country



Wine producing regions such as Tuscany and Napa Valley already make for enjoyable vacation destinations, but with a little planning you can get even more from your trip.

Lynda Turley, an adviser at Alpine Travel of Saratoga, specializes in wine-focused trips. “The areas of the world where winery hopping is a big attraction tend to be incredibly picturesque, and you don’t have to be a serious oenophile to have a good time on a trip to one of them,” she said. Ms. Turley’s has a number of tips for her clients on how to get the most out of a getaway to a wine producing region.

Three is the Limit

Even the most die-hard wine drinkers, said Ms. Turley, should visit no more than three wineries in a day. “If you try to hit too many wineries in a single day, they’ll all blur together, and you’ll have a harder time remembering the individual wines you tasted,” she said.

Consider Hiring A Wine Guide

Almost every wine producing region is also home to local wine guides who have connections with local wineries and are friendly with the area’s winemakers. Some of these guides even double as drivers so you don’t have to worry about driving while drinking.

Although wine guides can charge between $500 to $1000 a day, Ms. Turley said that they’re worth the investment, especially if you’re traveling as part of a group and can share the cost with others. “Wine guides can significantly enhance your trip by giving you an insider experience of the region,” she said. You can find a wine guide through your hotel’s concierge, a travel adviser, such as Ms. Turley, or even by asking a winery you plan to visit for a recommendation.

Choose the Road Less Traveled

Famous wine regions such as Tuscany and Napa Valley can be overrun with tourists. Also, since many of the wineries are larger and more commercial, you’re unlikely to meet the winemakers or owners to learn about the wine and how it’s made.

Wineries in lesser-known areas, on the other hand, tend to be smaller, which means that you can usually meet and interact with the winemakers themselves. Ms. Turley’s favorite off-the-beaten-path wine destinations include California’s Santa Cruz Mountains, Virginia’s Monticello area and the wineries just outside Montevideo, Uruguay.

Reserve in Advance

Most renowned wineries take visitors only by appointment and get booked several weeks in advance. To avoid disappointment, Ms. Turley advised making reservations for winery visits as soon as your trip dates are fixed. And, don’t forget to make restaurant reservations in the vicinity, too because they can be tough to score in some of the most popular spots.

Plan Non-Wine Activities

Many wine regions have plenty of diversions unrelated to wine. In fact, many attract teetotalers as well, said Ms. Turley.

Napa Valley, for example, has a robust arts scene with several high-caliber art galleries. Also, some of the region’s resorts are destinations in and of themselves, such as Meadowood Napa Valley, which has a three Michelin-star restaurant, the Restaurant at Meadowood, and a free-standing spa with numerous wine-based treatments. Tuscany, with its hilly roads, is a prime destination for cyclists, Bordeaux has a flourishing culture scene, and several farms in Provence offer olive oil and cheese tastings.



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