Raise a glass…
The allure of a vineyard tempts more than wine lovers. Who wouldn’t like to spend a little time in the rustic groves of a rural outpost, where matters of passion and taste form the basis of daily life?
Given the popularity of the experience it’s no wonder that vineyards are doubling up as attractions in their own right, many with tours, tastings or in-house accommodation - all the better for road trippers.
From New Zealand to Canada, plus those that are only a Eurostar trip away, the Flexicover team has rounded up some of the world’s best vineyards where you can eat, drink and be very, very merry.
Fall Creek Vineyards, Austin, Texas
More than cowboys and country music, the Lone Star State is home to world-class wines to rival that of more well-known regions. For a taste of award-winning vino and a dose of southern hospitality, head to Fall Creek, deep in the heart of Hill Country. The oldest vineyard in the state, it’s run by rancher-turned-winemaker Ed Auler and his wife Susan who explain that the same sunshine and balmy breeze that make this an ideal grape-growing climate means it’s a year-round destination. Cruise across Fall Creek Lake, soak up some sunshine alongside a glass of Sauvignon or sample another Texan institution at their newest branch (no pun intended) in Tow.
Hotel Le Relais Franc Mayne, France
To pick but one vineyard from France is a near-impossible task – from the famed Champagne-Ardenne region to Bordeaux, there’s a year’s worth of vineyards to visit. But Saint-Émilion, in the south west of France, is full of French charm – it’s a UNESCO Heritage Site rich in culture, with some expansive vineyards to boot. On its outskirts, the 16th century chateau of Le Relais Franc Mayne houses a vineyard and doubles as a small, quiet hotel. Each guest is greeted with a half-bottle of their homemade red for a taste of their produce, and to find out a little more, their tours help explain their process, equipment and also show off their cavernous cellars.
Viu Manent, Chile
Flanked by the towering Andes on one side and the endless Pacific on the other, Chile’s extraordinary landscape makes it fertile ground for wine growers. For three generations, the Viu Manent family have been producing a small range of renowned wines in the Colchagua Valley - a velvety expanse of vines at the foothills of the Andes. It's sophisticated enough to cater to the most demanding of sommeliers yet has enough old-world charm to whet any adventurous traveller's appetite. Sample some of Chile’s finest reds, from El Incidente - named as a result of an eventful hot-air balloon trip - to the closely guarded blends of the Secreto range and see if you can guess what’s inside.
Barone Ricasoli, Castello Di Brolio, Tuscany
Wine lovers will delight at Tuscany's picture-perfect countryside – it’s the birthplace of Italian wine and every gourmand’s dream getaway. From Chianti to the Super Tuscans of Bolgheri the region from Siena to Florence reads like a sommelier's handbook. Explore Italy’s oldest winery, where Barone Ricasoli wrote the formula for Chianti Classico in 1872. Tour ancient cellars that tell of nearly a thousand years of wine-making expertise before pausing for a private tasting. Wander the expansive grounds, through vine-striped valleys and cypress-lined groves, home to the Ricasoli family since the 12th century. Be sure to savour a glass of their prestigious Sangiovese, best enjoyed in the shadow of the formidable Brolio Castle, in all its Renaissance glory.
Amisfield, Lake Hayes, New Zealand
It may be a long way to go for a glass of Pinot, but New Zealand’s wineries are well worth the trip. While their swoon-worthy Sauvignons are acknowledged to be among the best in the world, the South Island’s Pinot Noirs are the new stars of the show. Outside of Queenstown, Amisfield Winery is arguably the most handsome in the region. Sandwiched between staggering snow-capped mountains and the glassy waters of Lake Hayes, their sun-drenched courtyard is just the spot to sample some rich, earthy reds – pair them with the famous Trust the Chef menu for the perfect meal.
Whatever your preference in terms of wine might be a visit to a vineyard is an experience not to be missed. And it’s good to know that Flexicover are committed to providing you with the highest level of protection to ensure you are safe and secure 24 hours a day while away.
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