Wine is now Britain’s favourite alcoholic drink, chosen by 60% of adults. But how much do you know about your favourite red, white or rose? What about a weekend break to one of Europe’s most popular wine regions to find out more?
Jenna Jones of Grape Escapes says that her company can arrange a trip to any wine producing area, although they concentrate on the better-known destinations. “We tend to find that regions like Bordeaux, Tuscany and Burgundy – the wines that people know and love – tend to be most popular. We’ve spent the last decade getting to know those areas so we can offer a flawless experience.”
The Champagne region is the most popular amongst guests, says Jenna. “Champagne is my favourite drink and the region is very magical. It has a festive atmosphere about it. The Champagne makers are always delighted to receive our guests, give their very best service and open the very best bottles. It makes for an unforgettable experience.”
With the ever-increasing popularity of Prosecco, the company has launched a break in that Italian region. Jenna says the vineyards are near Venice so it’s perfect as a city break base. Tours around the northern Portugal city Porto, known for Port and the nearby Douro Valley, are also increasingly in demand.
If you don’t know much about the subject, Jenna says they can put together an itinerary that will introduce you to the world of wines. “You don’t need any knowledge at all. We can arrange trips for complete beginners who don’t know how wine is made and want to see that process. But we can also arrange trips for connoisseurs who may have their favourite château that they regularly buy wine from and might want to visit. Regardless of your level of experience there’s always going to be a tour for you.”
While the majority of guests choose accommodation in a town centre so they can visit different restaurants and cafés, it is possible to stay on site in a winery and immerse yourself in the wine production processes. Most of the tours are two to three nights in duration but longer trips can be arranged across multiple wine regions. There’s also a chance to create your own personal wine.
“You can work with an expert Champagne blender to come up with your own perfect bottle. You can do the same in Bordeaux, where you can put together a grand cru Bordeaux wine that you’ve created personally.”
I asked Jenna how they arranged guest transfers on multiple destination trips. Jenna says if it is just a couple of people they would suggest that the guests drive to the destination. “Champagne is only two-and-a-half hours by car from Calais. That means you can bring bottles back as you’ll find the prices competitive in the regions. During the tours we can transport our guests so they don’t have to worry about how much they are drinking and they can fully participate in the tastings.”
If you don’t want a weekend that is all about wine, the company also includes local historic and cultural sites in some of their tours. They combine Champagne tasting with First World War battlefields and they’ve introduced wine and golfing packages.
You can find out more at GrapeEscapes.net.