Friday Five: Holidays for wine lovers
When we think of wine holidays, the first place that comes to mind is France. With its famed regions such as Bordeaux, Burgundy and Beaujolais, winos flock to France to taste the delicious products of its pristine vineyards. However, the rest of Europe boasts many esteemed wine regions that are yet to be discovered by the masses. Read on for our favourite non-French wine destinations.
1. Istria, Croatia
Tourism in Croatia has increased rapidly in the last few years as people discover its stunning coastlines and historic cities. What most tourists don't know, however, is that in Istria, a peninsula in the north of the country, hides an award winning wine region. The area is particularly renowned for its delicious Momjan Muscat wines. Not only does this region have plenty of top-quality wines, it also boasts charming towns and villages, such as Buje, perched on a hilltop with a beautiful old town, and medieval Motovun, which sits atop the Mirna River Valley. If you'd like to experience Croatia's wine culture for yourself, check out our Istria: Vineyards and Villages walking tour, or if you're a cyclist, you may be interested in our Istria's Wine Roads adventure.
2. Moselle Valley, Germany
Ok, so technically, part of the Moselle Valley is in France, but it also stretches to Germany and Luxembourg. Although Germany normally conjures images of huge jugs of beer, it also produces excellent wines. Having been first cultivated by the Romans, the Moselle valley combines rich history with fertile soil to create delicious wines, including the famous Riesling, an aromatic and fruity wine that goes perfectly with the region's light and fresh cuisine. With ruined monasteries, fairytale castles and Roman ruins dotted around the valley, this is the perfect place to spend your time soaking up the history in between sampling the exquisite wines. Fancy visiting the Moselle Valley yourself? Have a look at the Moselle Valley Wine Trail or the Moselle Cycle Path if you prefer to travel on two wheels.
3. Barolo, Italy
Like the famous regions of Champagne and Bordeaux, Barolo holds the status of 'Controlled Designation of Origin'. This means it is that only wines created in the specific region are allowed to bear the name Barolo. This designation is generally seen as a mark of quality and can be found on other high-quality Italian wine growing regions. Look out for the acronym DOCG on the label. Barolo is in north-west Italy, in the Piedmont region. It is a haven for foodies: Alba, a town in Barolo, plays host to the White Truffle Fair throughout October and November. If you'd like to visit this beautiful region, check out the Barolo Vineyard Trail for walkers or Gourmet Barolo Cycling for cyclists.
4. The Douro Valley, Portugal
The Douro Valley is a little known wine-producing region that snakes along the banks of the river Douro through northern Spain to its outlet near the city of Porto in northern Portugal. The higher reaches of the valley, the 'Alto Douro', are recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The region has been producing wine for over two thousand years, and you can taste the history and tradition in every drop. If you fancy something a little stronger, you can head to Porto, the country's second largest city, which gave its name to port, a sweeter, fortified wine. If this sounds like the right holiday for you, have a look at our Porto and the Douro Valley adventure.
5. La Rioja, Spain
Rioja is Spain's most celebrated wine region. Generally using Tempranillo grapes, Rioja wines are fruity and delicious. The wineries are an attraction in themselves, ranging from small traditional cellars to daring avant-garde works of architecture. These unique buildings contrast beautifully with the authentic medieval villages than can be seen throughout the region. La Rioja also plays host to a section of the Camino de Santiago, so you're sure to meet lots of interesting pilgrims! If you'd like to explore La Rioja, check out our La Rioja Vineyards and Villages, or food lovers may prefer our Gourmet Rioja Cycling adventure. For more information on these holidays, get in touch with our Destination & Adventure Specialists at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bonus trip: Speyside Whisky Trails
As a Scotland based company, it would be criminal to have an alcohol themed feature without mentioning our national drink, the water of life - whisky! Speyside is a region in north-eastern Scotland with more than fifty distilleries. Whether your tipple of choice is a single malt or a Scotch blend, you're sure to find a whisky to suit your tastes in Speyside. Our six day tour of the area, Speyside Whisky Trails, includes a distillery visit - with tasting, of course - every single day! To read more about this trip, check out the Speyside Whisky Trails page on our website. We also have a shorter four-day excursion - perfect for a long weekend!