Destinations around the world woo wine lovers with tastings, tours and vinotherapy.
If it seems everyone around you is drinking wine, you’re not imagining it: In 2016, Americans sipped 790 million gallons of this ancient elixir, up from 330 million gallons in 1993. That surge in consumption also spurred an interest in wine-related travel that ranges from tours and cruises through winemaking regions to tastings, wine-pairing dinners and classes held by well-known sommeliers, winemakers and other experts. There are also wine-based treatments at spas, and in Bordeaux, France, La Cité du Vin, a museum devoted to all things wine, opened in 2016. Last year, 445,000 oenophiles visited the 144,000-square-foot museum, which also houses three restaurants, a tasting room, a theater and 19 interactive exhibits. And if you’ve ever wanted to play winemaker for a day, you can do that, too, at wine blending programs cropping up not just in wine-producing regions but in destinations all over the world. In Charleston, S.C., for example, guests at the Grand Bohemian Hotel can craft their own bottle; Bahama Barrels, which occupies a former convent in downtown Nassau, started a blending program in early 2018.
Cruise lines, which delivered travelers to far-flung wine-producing regions for decades, have been quick to add creative wine components to many of their journeys. Guests aboard AmaWaterways’ Enticing Douro cruise spend days sipping Port, Vinho Verde and other Portuguese wines at vineyards overlooking the Douro River; a highlight is dinner and a wine tasting at the quinta, or country home, of a local winemaking family. Uniworld’s Connoisseur Collection cruises offer exclusive food and wine programming — think lunch on a Burgundy estate with perfectly paired wines — on specific departures through France. Culturally curious travelers aboard Viking Cruise Line’s Empires of the Mediterranean adventure visit three boutique wineries in and around Santoríni, Greece, to taste varietals unique to the region. On its Piedmont and the Italian Lakes exploration, land-based tour company Trafalgar takes visitors off Italy’s beaten path with wine-focused jaunts to less-visited Asti and Cherasco.
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