Hands up who participated in a wildly popular virtual wine tasting session during lockdown? Oops, perhaps use the other hand…you’re spilling claret down your front.
Joking aside, activities normally reserved for globetrotting and exploration took on a whole new meaning during lockdown. Instead of the rolling hills of Chianti to gaze over, we had a buffering Zoom call. Replacing the vineyards of Bordeaux, we had our living rooms. Talk about terroir, hey? The lurking mould in our kitchen certainly gave our long-opened bottle of Merlot a unique character. Still, it was all we had…
But now that the grape harvest season is kicking off in the Northern Hemisphere and the world is slowly opening up again, travellers can start thinking about exploring the countries of their favourite wines, in person.
Because let’s be honest; wine tasting is an activity that certainly benefits from the in-person, first-hand experience; the unique terroir, climate and topography of a destination bringing with it a sense of place that translates into intrigue on the palate.
According to research by Booking.com, 1 in 10 (5%) of global travellers are likely to take a trip to explore a wine region this year. After travel being mainly on pause for over a year, Booking.com research also reveals that there’s an appetite to stretch those legs again and explore the world hiking, with 8% of global travellers indicating they have plans to take a hiking trip this year.
Why not combine those experiences into both a funky new portmanteau and a wonderfully active yet indulgent holiday? And what better way to explore the beautiful vineyards the world has to offer than on foot, and revel in the experience of ‘wiking’?
With a mission to make it for everyone to experience the world and with the help of our friends at Booking.com, here are five incredible wine destinations where travellers can get the best of both worlds, of wine tasting and hiking, for whenever it’s safe to travel again.
According to Booking.com traveller reviews, Porto is the top recommended destination when it comes to wine travel. And that’s not surprising. This coastal city in north western Portugal is famous for its port wines (a port is for life, not just for Christmas and all that) produced in the Douro Valley.
The wine region of Alto Douro, a UNESCO world heritage site, is one of the oldest wine regions on the planet and home to some of the best Portuguese wines around. To explore the area, travellers should lace up their hiking boots and walk through the different vineyards by following one of the many hiking trails in the area. Hike your way up to the hills in the region and enjoy incredible views that will take your breath away while sipping on a glass of wine at one of the many wineries.
Where to stay: Wake up with vineyard views at Ventozelo Hotel & Quinta, situated in the middle of the Douro Valley. Just a two-hour drive from Porto, guests can enjoy calm and beautiful scenery, and enjoy a glass of Portugal’s finest wines. The property features various buildings that respect their original structure and roots while the rooms offer modern design and architecture. Guests can enjoy local food at the on-site restaurant, join a wine tasting tour, or join a guided hiking tour through the surrounding area.
SONOMA, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES
Sonoma is a perfect place to visit for wine enthusiasts who want to take a ‘wike’. The Sonoma Valley is a world-class destination that nurtures hundreds of vineyards ranging from small family operations to large internationally renowned wineries, with many award-winning producers originating from this Californian region and the city of the same name.
With many winery tours and wine tastings being offered in this region, it’s not surprising that Sonoma is highly recommended for wine travel by Booking.com travellers. For travellers seeking more adventure, the region also offers mountain biking tours and hot air balloon rides.
Where to stay: Cottage Inn & Spa is a cosy, romantic stay for a wine country getaway. This stunning inn is all about relaxation, perfect after a long day exploring the wine region on foot. Guests can enjoy great garden views when enjoying a glass of wine or can choose a treatment at the onsite spa. With its central location, guests can easily walk to one of the many amazing dining options Sonoma has to offer.
Highly recommended by Booking.com travellers for its nearby vineyards is Florence, the capital of Italy’s Tuscany region, which is home to many of Italy’s famous wines. The region, particularly the famous hills of Chianti, is full of acres and acres of beautiful rolling vineyards which travellers can explore while ‘wiking’ various hiking routes that lead to one of the many wineries that offer wine tasting.
Staying in Florence gives travellers the best of both worlds; engaging with culture and culinary delights in the city whilst being just a short drive or ‘wike’ away from the vineyards.
Where to stay: Just a short half hour drive from Florence, travellers can enjoy a traditional Tuscan stay at Salvadonica. This charming stonehouse farm stay is situated in the Chianti hills and is surrounded by vineyards and olive groves. After a day of exploring the surrounding area filled with vineyards, guests can relax in the large garden, which encircles the swimming pool and overlooks the rolling hills of the Tuscan countryside.
One of the top recommended destinations for vineyards by Booking.com travellers is Santiago, Chile’s capital city. With many wine regions in the surrounding area, including Maule Valley, a hugely significant wine-producing region for Chile that is responsible for much of the country’s export wine, it’s not surprising that travellers enjoy travelling to Santiago and its surrounding vineyards for a wine and hiking holiday.
Where to stay: Located just outside of Santiago and inside of Santa Rita vineyard, travellers can stay at one of the oldest wine cellars of Chile, Hotel Casa Real. This luxury boutique hotel is a historical monument where wine takes the centre stage. Guests can participate in wine tastings, organized upon request by the property, or enjoy a gourmet picnic in the property gardens.
For guests who want to enjoy wine outside the property and stay active during their stay, the property offers tours to the surrounding wine regions where guests can take a leisurely ‘wike’ through the different vineyards.
Located in Southern Australia, travellers will find the Coonawarra wine region, the ultimate destination for lovers of bold red wine. While the region isn’t that big – only 12 miles (20 kilometres) in length – travellers can easily spend a day here tasting high quality wines around several renowned wineries.
And given that the region isn’t that big, it’s perfect for those travellers who like to explore vineyards by foot. There is even a Coonawarra winery walking trail, where travellers can hike their way through 3 miles (5 kilometres) of vineyards and visit six different wineries from the region.
Where to stay: Located within the vineyards, Highbank Country Accommodation is a perfect place to stay for travellers keen to enjoy some ‘wiking’ in the rolling hills of one of Australia’s most revered wine regions. Guests will wake up in a true wine valley and can enjoy lovely wine produced in the area while seated in the property garden for the ultimate countryside feeling. At the same time, guests can easily explore the surrounding area on foot and take some truly incredible hikes through the acres of vineyards surrounding the property.