Vineyards Heilbronn

Exploring Europe Through Wine

Exploring Europe Through Wine

The vineyards and wine cellars of Europe are great tourist attractions and I can understand why – try some new wine, perhaps have a tasty meal and enjoy a good view while you’re there. When I lived in southern Germany, I thoroughly enjoyed having easy access to a variety of vineyards. Here at Europe a la Carte we’ve published serveral posts about European wine so I’ve put together this compilation of travel tips to help you explore Europe through wine.

Exploring Europe Through Wine

Vineyards near Heilbronn in Germany by Amanda Kendle

France

You probably won’t be surprised to hear that the most often featured country when we talk about wine is France. One exciting time to visit France is on Beaujolais Nouveau Day, the third Thursday in November each year, when the new season of this popular red wine is released for sale. Karen wrote about the marketing of Beaujolais Nouveau Day a while back and Thomas described some of the Beaujolais Nouveau celebrations that take place – it certainly sounds like a fun time of year to visit France.

Exploring Europe Through Wine

Beaujolais Nouveau by kobakou

The Loire Valley is a popular wine region of France, and Thomas wrote about visiting the small Clos de Murs vineyard here. There are so many vineyards in the area, along with some interesting castles, so it makes for a great destination.

Exploring Europe Through Wine

Loire Valley vineyards by Thomas Dowson

Bordeaux is yet another well-known origin of French wine, and the city of Bordeaux is considered by many to be the world capital of wine, especially as it hosts the Vinexpo fair each year.  Guest poster Rob Wallace visited a particularly lovely vineyard just outside Bordeaux, the Chateaux France Mayne, on his driving trip through France.

Exploring Europe Through Wine

Bordeaux by Thomas Dowson

Provence, one of France’s most popular tourist regions, is of course also home to some great wine destinations. Kimberly described the Luberon Valley in Provence as being a spectacular destination both for wine, sightseeing and relaxing.

Exploring Europe Through Wine

Luberon Valley by Kimberly Sullivan

As for other great wine regions in France, Andy recommended a great book which talked about classic wine destinations in France including Champagne and Burgundy.

Italy

It’s only fair to turn to Italy now, a country which is the world’s second largest producer of wine after France. Karen wrote about a lovely Italian wine tradition, the Cantine Aperte or Open Wineries Day,  held every year on the last Sunday in May, when many small wineries that are often not open to the public throw open their doors and everyone can buy wine direct from the producer.

Exploring Europe Through Wine

Cantina Aperte by M@rcello

There’s also the opportunity to get off the mainland to Sardinia to enjoy some good Italian wine – along with some excellent food.

Exploring Europe Through Wine

Sardinian meal by Heather Cowper

Portugal

Obviously the first kind of wine you’ll think of when travelling to Portugal is port wine, and Jeremy wrote about visiting the Port Wine Institute in Lisbon where you can sample many different kinds of port.

Exploring Europe Through Wine

Port Wine Institute by erik jaeger

Andy found another good place to try some Portuguese wines (not just port wine) and wrote about Vini Portugal – you can taste six wines for free (and give your feedback on a form) and of course the wines are also there for sale if you want to take some home.

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Vini Portugal by Andy Hayes

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is not exactly a place you’d consider as a wine destination, but over the years Europe a la Carte contributors have written about several ways to enjoy wine here.

If you’re in London, Sian has written a great post about Leicester Square wine bars. They are certainly numerous and stock great varieties of wine.

Exploring Europe Through Wine

Leicester Square by electric counterpoint

There are also several festivals which either focus on wine or including plenty of it! The Edinburgh Wine Festival was an international festival held in 2007 for the first time (not sure if it will make a comeback); the Channel 4 Taste Festival moves around and we first mentioned it when it was held in Edinburgh a few years ago, and annual food and drink festival (with plenty of wine!) runs in Newcastle. Timing your travel to coincide with an event like this means you may not have to go far to experience a wide range of new wines (and some great food to go with it, too).

Exploring Europe Through Wine

At an Edinburgh festival by Andrew Girdwood

Austria

Austria (especially in the east) has a lovely tradition of small vineyards opening up as taverns called Heuriger during certain times of the year, with a licence to serve some simple food and to sell only their own wines. Marcus visited a Heuriger in the Grinzig area near Vienna and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Exploring Europe Through Wine

Grinzig by Marcus Cederstrom

Germany

The tradition in southern Germany is very similar to the Austrian Heuriger and in the Swabian region where I lived, it was very common to visit a Besen. These small restaurants at vineyards received this name because they would traditionally sweep out a room of the house (with a Besen - a broom) and set it up for guests when the right time of year came. Great food, great wine and a great time!

The Rhein-Mosel region is probably the most famous of the German wine regions and plenty of excellent wine (mostly white) is produced around here. It’s also the home of Riesling wine.

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Vineyard overlooking Rhine by roger4336

Hungary

Hungary is usually completely overlooked as a wine country but it actually is home to some fantastic wine. Jeremy wrote about wine tasting in Recsk (near Eger) when he visited the Kohari Prince winery.

Exploring Europe Through Wine

Kohari Prince Winery by Jeremy Branham

The most famous wine region (of many!) in Hungary is the Tokaj region in the north of the country, bordering with Slovakia.

Exploring Europe Through Wine

Tokaj vineyards by access.denied

Bulgaria

Bulgaria also has a long history of wine production. The largest wine-making region is near the Black Sea in the east of Bulgaria and a lot of white wine is produced here, including a variety of Gewürztraminer, one of my favourites.

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Vineyard in Bulgaria by furbyx4

Estonia

Up in the Baltics, Estonia is certainly not famed for making wines, but if you want to drink a few good glasses in a great setting, then Sian’s find of the Gloria Wine Bar in the Estonian capital of Tallinn is a place you want to see.

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Gloria Wine Bar, Tallinn by sian

Slovenia

There is a must-see wine-related tourist attraction is Slovenia. Head to the city of Maribor and you can find, as Jason did, the oldest wine vine in the world, housed in the Old Vine House. You can also find some of the oldest and largest wine cellars in the world – it’s no wonder that Slovenia is rapidly creeping up people’s  “must visit” lists.

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Maribor Wine Road by Jason Green

Croatia

Neighbouring Croatia also its fair share of wine. On the Istrian peninsula – the western part of Croatia on the Adriatic Sea – there are four large wine regions, and Jason wrote about the many Croatian wine towns within this area.

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Vineyards in Istria by Ai@ce

Turkey

Last but not least, in Turkey, a country where many people wouldn’t expect to find too much wine, Inka has written all about a fantastic trip she took to vineyards in the mountains at Sirince, near Selcuk. She discovered some great fruit wines, too, in incredible bottles – it certainly looked like wine travel with a difference.

Exploring Europe Through Wine

Turkish wine by Inka Piegsa-quischotte

I hope that you’ve enjoyed our wine in Europe virtual tour.

Exploring Europe Through Wine