These days a tour of a sun-lit vineyard, guided by a proprietor olive-tanned from decades of sunny labours, followed by a tasting of that terroir’s vintages, is more tempting than ever before. Especially, if it is followed by leisurely dinner and a good night’s sleep in the rooms of a historic wine chateau.
Once we start travelling again, wine tours are likely to become increasingly popular. Over lockdown, the statistics and empty bottles suggest, many of us have developed a new love of wine. Moreover, after months of travel restrictions, many of us are desperate to travel.
Getting away from it all and leaving the crowds and cities behind has always been part of the attraction of vineyards. Now, as we emerge from this pandemic, the fresh-air, space and social distancing of wine-country becomes ever more tempting. Whether the vineyards are tucked away amongst Provençal lavender landscapes or contrasting against the high-altitude backdrop of Mendoza in Argentina, vineyard experiences appeal to our love to explore new territories, to soak-up new experiences.
Although many of us are still reluctant to travel with countries flitting from amber list to red list and queues at borders, this is a good time for armchair travelling, to plan for the future.
Winerist, a global online wine concierge, God’s gift to wine lovers, is a website likely to be frequently visited as we indulge in dreaming of future escapes. Currently the site is a tempting portal to 133 wine regions, 220 hotels, 500 food and cooking experiences, 700 wineries and 1,200 wine tours.
Food and wine have always gone together and fine wines are frequently paired with local cuisine that foodies will love. Winerist undertake extensive research and have many a conversations with local tourist boards to ensure the quality of every offering.
The idea for Winerist arose eight years ago when founder Diana Isac escaped from her desk in the City of London for a dream odyssey of food and wine. The friends’ rented minibus took the group through Paris, Champagne, Burgundy, Provence and Tuscany. It was the trip of a lifetime.
Back at her London desk however, Diana had golden memories of the holiday, but also disbelief at how much research and time it took to book the right boutique hotel, the gourmet restaurant and the perfect vineyard tour.
“If only there had been a Trip Advisor for wine,” Diana complained to her husband who was a fine wines merchant.
It was that kernel of an idea that led to the birth of Winerist in 2012. Since then, the concept has developed further. Diana looked to put travellers in touch with the wine producers who not only have a deep passion for the terroir that grows their grapes, but immense creativity in overcoming the obstacles that nature frequently presents. Late frosts in spring, insect infestations, heavy storms, blazing sun and finally early autumnal frosts; all must be vanquished in the constant pursuit of the perfect vintage. Tasting and chatting with such wise and philosophical vintners, over a glass of wine, is one of the great privileges of wine travel.
Over the years vineyards have come to offer new attractions including spas, cookery and wine tasting classes. Many vineyards offer bicycle hire allowing cycling between the vines and local guided walks, river cruises and off-road experiences. As the majority of vineyards remain family owned there is a warm welcome and a personal touch from the hosts. One of Diana’s objectives was that guests would have easy access to the key figures at a vineyard.
As Diana says, “When it comes to wine tourism, most businesses are run by families, by people who have lived in the same place for hundreds of years. Their winery is not just their livelihood. It is their passion and their legacy.” They are fascinating people to talk to whilst you taste their produce.
Both well-known and up-and-coming regions feature amongst the Winerist options for travel for 2021 and beyond. Traditional favourites such as the Douro Valley in Portugal, Bordeaux in France, Tuscany in Italy sit alongside Argentina, Moldova and Uruguay.
Winerist fact file
Find out more about trips and tours organised by Winerist and discover the world beyond the rim of your glass.
For more European and worldwide travel ideas and reviews visit 50connect travel channel.Last modified: September 6, 2021