What’s better than sipping your favorite vino? Doing it at its source. With a backdrop of vineyards in the landscape surrounding you, well-crafted wine tours give you face time with some of the best winemakers in the world as you sample their top vintages and dine on memorable meals. The trick is choosing the best itinerary for your interests before departing to your destination on a private jet flight, whether it’s stomping through vineyards or breaking a sweat on a bicycle tour.
Must-Do Wine Tours
Paris-based wine writer Britt Karlsson offers about 30 wine tours annually through her company BKWine to destinations such as Austria, Germany, Spain, Italy, France, and Portugal. Tour programs mostly visit small producers that exemplify the best of the respective region. Guests are often treated to informal lunches at the estates they visit, as well as encounters with proprietors rather than paid guides.
English-language tours include those to Portugal and France, as well as custom trips. Others tours are conducted in Swedish, Karlsson’s first language.
Meet Top Producers
When you sign up for a tour by French Wine Explorers, you’ll visit the vineyards and wineries throughout Italy and France that make the best vintages in a connoisseur’s collection. The Bordeaux Prestige Tour is a guest favorite as it includes tastings of first and “super second” growths at some of the most exclusive wineries in the areas visited. Participants are also treated to gala dinners and opulent accommodations at private castles. Because French Wine Explorers packs the days with trips to the most exclusive wine estates in each region, there isn’t much time for additional activities.
Break a Sweat
Offering “all-active” vacations, Zephyr Adventures takes you to destinations such as Chile, Argentina, Oregon, South Africa and California, depending on the season. Excursions incorporate bike riding, walking, horseback riding or water sports along with tours at established vineyards. Producers range from boutique crafters to industrialized operations. Guests who get the most pleasure out of the experiences are those who are fit and don’t mind exerting themselves as some of the itineraries can be physically taxing.
For a more relaxed experience, Zephyr Adventures’ sister company, Taste Vacations, doesn’t require workout gear. In addition to visiting the same regions as Zephyr Adventures, Taste Vacations takes guests to the best wine regions of Washington State, Tuscany, and Spain.
Drink Like a Local
Instead of hopping from winery to winery without making meaningful connections, Vintage Spain offers a culturally immersive experience that gives you a taste of life in the country’s best wine regions. The Burgos-based company takes guests to restaurants that prepare regional specialties and prepares itineraries that combine winery tours with experiences such as cooking classes, visits to historical sites, and museum shops. Availability permitting, guests stay in rooms at winemakers’ homes and old buildings converted into hotels, like castles.
Tour Off-the-Grid Regions
If Bordeaux, Sonoma, and Tuscany were checked off your list long ago, Arblaster & Clarke arranges tours and cruises to a variety of destinations you may not have considered, including the UK, Hungary, Georgia, Greece and Canada. Experiences range from power tastings to weeklong excursions in nontraditional locations. The British company also features Champagne Weekends that introduce you to the joie de vivre that is sampling the bubbly elixir.