by Chris Leadbeater, The Telegraph, September 4, 2019
The time has come for this year's wine harvest (in the northern hemisphere at least), and we've unearthed some of the best spots to go and sample grapes.
1. Port side
OK, not port – which, as we all know, is made in Portugal. But then, “wine side” doesn’t make any sense, and… look, let’s not get distracted from the point. Which is to explain that limited space is still available on the Wine Voyage that small-ship specialist Seadream (Seadream.com) has in the diary for October 12-19. This seven-day cruise will sail from Civitavecchia (the port for Rome) to Barcelona via Portofino, Monaco, Cannes and Cassis, taking in vineyards and producers en route. From £3,538 per person; flights extra.
2. In the red
Or the white. Or, if you’re in the mood, a nice chilled rosé. The point here is that, while the sight of summer muttering about calling a taxi and reaching for its coat is a reason to be sad, the approach of September and the imminence of autumn is also a cause for good cheer. Why? Harvest season is about to start in vineyards across Europe, lots of new bottles of wine will be going into production, and festivals galore are set to salute it. Including in the UK. Dedham Vale vineyard in Essex has a Wine & Cider Festival this very weekend (dedhamvalevineyard.com); while the tastings fun of Oxford Wine Festival is slated for September 6-7 (oxfordwinefestival.org).
3. In vine fettle
If Marvin Gaye had spent less time using the grapevine as a rudimentary and implausible telephone, listening suspiciously for gossip about his other half, he might have picked up some rather more useful information on his trip to the winery. For one thing, he might have noticed that the USA produces some of the planet’s best bottles of viticultural booze. Not least in California, where the neighbouring Sonoma and Napa Valleys are must-see stops on any tour of the state. Take the Classic California road trip, as sold by theamericanroadtripcompany.co.uk (from £1,699pp; flights extra), as an excellent example - it visits both as part of its 14-day itinerary.
4. Vin diesel?
How impertinent. Actually, Cyprus is increasingly good at wine production, and will prove it from Friday when the Limassol Wine Festival (August 30-September 8; limassolmunicipal.com.cy/en/wine-festival) brings the best bottles to the south coast. A seven-night break at the city’s Grand Resort, flying from Gatwick on September 3, costs from £634pp with Thomas Cook (thomascook.com).
5. Afternoon chianti
Italians love wine – lest we forget, the Romans had their own boozy deity. Will Bacchus be there in the Tuscan sun in two weeks’ time when the annual Chianti Classico Expo (September 5-8; expochianticlassico.com) takes over the town of Greve in Chianti? Who knows? But you can be. A three-night stay (with flights) at the four-star L’Orologio Florence (17 miles/27km away) starts at £598pp, with kirkerholidays.com.
Switzerland doesn’t make wine, does it? Oh yes it does – it just keeps a lot of the best to itself. How to steal a sip? Try the Vintage Lavaux Wine Break at the Royal Savoy (royalsavoy.ch), Lausanne, a one-night package which revels in the fruits of the surrounding vineyards with gourmet food, winery tours and spa access. From 1,220 Swiss francs (£1,017), based on two sharing (flights extra).
7. Bed and bord
You can barely wake up in the vicinity of Bordeaux without stumbling into a vineyard. Literally in the case of the four-bedroom villa located on a wine estate in the village of Listrac-Médoc – and offered for rental by homeaway.co.uk (reference: 8162510). A one-week stay, arriving on September 21, costs from £2,059.
8. High priorat
The profile of Catalonian wine tends to be dwarfed by the steamroller that is rioja – but lovers of Spanish vintages can gain greater perspective on the Priorat Wine Journey offered by the Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona. This luxury package (mandarinoriental.com/barcelona) involves a minimum of two nights at the hotel and a chauffeured tour of wineries in the Priorat region, with tastings and lunch. From €2,070pp (£1,880), flights extra.
9. South side
You will have to wait until March for the privilege, but if you want to experience viticultural harvest season on the far side of the equator, you could always try the Vineyards of Argentina and Chile itinerary offered by journeylatinamerica.co.uk – a 14-day odyssey which calls at Salta, Mendoza and Santiago. From £4,092pp – flights extra.
10. Hubble bubbles
No article about wine can be complete without a mention of the fizzy version of the stuff. Step forward grapeescapes.net, which sells a range of tours of the Champagne region – including an Essential Reims three-day trip that ventures to the likes of the Moët & Chandon estate. From £391pp, train travel extra.
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