What could be better than seeing beautiful countryside in the sunshine and stopping off to taste some of the local wines? Not a lot, but with so many wonderful vineyards in Europe it can be hard to choose where to go. With a view to giving you some senior summer holidays inspiration, we’ve put together five European vineyards to consider as you plan your summer holidays, whether for a weekend, a week or even a day trip. Your knowledge of wine may be about to be challenged.
Champagne Tribaut, Hautvillers, near Epernay, France
It may seem obvious, but France is the grand master of wine. So why not treat yourself to sampling some champagne and coupling your trip with a visit to one of the First World War battlefields to mark 100 years since the battle of the Somme? You can also admire, compare and contrast the cathedrals of Reims and Amiens.
Champagne Tribaut has been welcoming visitors to tastings since 1975 and produces a relatively small amount (around 150,000 bottles a year) of champagne each year. Its products are not available in the supermarkets so you will be tasting authentic champagnes that you’ve probably never had before.
Vipava 1894, Slovenia
Ljubljana is the delightful small capital in this beautiful country. Fly in and spend at least a couple of nights enjoying the wonderful wine bars, proudly showcasing some of the country’s own produce, before heading to the countryside where the vineyards proliferate.
The Vipava wine road meanders through around 30 wine towns, giving you plenty of opportunity to stop and taste. Vipava 1894 is one of the oldest and largest cellars in the country. It offers red, white and sparkling wines, so really caters to whatever your taste. As Slovenia isn’t yet on the wine tasting tourist list yet, it’s also very reasonable with a tasting of three wines costing just 5 euros and five wines with cheese, meat and bread for 13 euros.
This may not be the country that many think of when planning a vineyard visit, but the wines are magnificent and you are sure to look the expert when you return to the UK and mention to any sommelier your experience of Slovenian wines.
Castello Vicchiomaggio, Italy
A beautiful castle in the Tuscan hills with stunning wines and many tasting options, Castello Vicchiomaggio is a gem.
Offering a generous wine tasting, a comprehensive tour and further tours which include lunch, the castello also hosts events, has a restaurant and a hotel so you can stay over and not worry about who draws the short straw and has to drive after your tasting.
This is a real treat, set on a hill and accessed via a windy road with views all around – and with plenty more castellos and vineyards, competition is taken seriously. Great pride is taken in the wine and food, so if you are planning to go somewhere special, this should be it.
German wines were hugely popular in the UK in the 1970s and 1980s but tastes changed and German wine has been much maligned. However, there are 13 wine regions in the country producing excellent grape varieties and wines. Reisling and Pinot Noir are two of the top grapes and for a different European summer holiday and view on wine, you should give German wine a shot (if you’re not already among the converts).
The second largest region is Pfalz, and Fitz-Retter is a 62 acre vineyard that used to provide sekt sparkling wine to the court of the Bavarian king. Its long tradition in wine making means that you will get an excellent overview of German wines but beware that it is quite expensive, unless you are in a group.
Chapel Down, England
If you want a short weekend holiday, or even a day trip, then look closer to home: Kent to be precise. English wines have come on in leaps and bounds in the last decade, even beating some of the French champagnes in competition.
Near the small market town of Tenterden, Chapel Down offers a tour of its vineyards and winery followed by a tutored tasting of its wines. The climate in the UK allows for the production of rose, white and sparkling wine and the results are excellent. Upgrade your package to include lunch, more wine and chocolates.
With many gorgeous vineyards from Italy, to Germany and even in our own backyard of England to pick from, which from the above would you choose to visit this summer? Let us know which vineyard is on your travel bucket list via Twitter or Facebook