Planning a Trip to Wine Country
The first step in planning a wine tour is deciding where you'll visit. In the United States, the Sonoma and Napa Valleys of California are well known for their vineyards. Michigan, Oregon and the Lake Erie and Niagara regions are also popular destinations. Internationally, France is home to Bordeux, Burgandy, Champagne, Loire and Rhone. In Italy, Tuscany, Sicily, Veneto and Fruili are all popular destinations.
While it's possible to enjoy good wine and have a great experience spending one afternoon in a single winery, for a nice regional wine tour, schedule three or four days. If you're traveling internationally, you may want to allocate up to two weeks. On international trips, the tour schedule typically includes small breaks to visit tourist destinations in the area.
Once you have a destination in mind and know how long you plan to spend in the region, it's time to make reservations. Schedule your wine tour during the growing season. In Europe and North America, that's April to October. In New Zealand, visit during February or March to witness the grape harvest. While some wineries allow visitors during the winter months, when the grapevines are dormant, you'll miss out on the awesome experience of walking through the rows of grapevines with fruit hanging heavily as far as the eye can see.
When making reservations, it's also important to know exactly what's included in the price. Ask about accommodations, transportation and meals. If you're traveling by airline, ask if they arrange transportation from the airport or if you should do that yourself. The best way to ensure there are no unpleasant surprises on your wine tour is to ask plenty of questions.