Enjoying a luscious glass of cabernet sauvignon or pinot noir while on vacation is one thing, but it’s a whole other adventure to learn about said wine while imbibing. To get a taste for how grapes become great vino, book a trip to one (or all) of these wine-centric destinations.
Get intimate with the wines of the Blue Ridge Mountains — a place that specializes in merlot, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, riesling and chardonnay — with a trip to this enchanting Southern estate. Book a private tour around the property to learn about founder William Cecil (George Vanderbilt’s grandson) and the first planting of grapes in the 1970s, fermentation facts and what the winemakers look for with each batch. The tour ends in the tasting room, where you can further your knowledge with a glass of blanc de blancs.
While in Asheville, book a room at Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Inn on Biltmore Estate. Not only does this prestigious address give off castle vibes (it is a former home of the Vanderbilts, after all), but it’s surrounded by 8,000 acres of gorgeous greenery and just a short walk from the winery’s tasting room.
There’s no shortage of places to linger over and learn about vino in NorCal’s wine country, but this new venue allows you to dive into wine on a grander scale. Situated 10 minutes from downtown and about 14 miles from swanky Yountville, Meritage Collection’s Vista Collina offers luxurious, Tuscan-inspired accommodations complete with vineyard views and easy access to nine boutique wineries through on-property tasting rooms. Visit them all (without renting a car) and seep in the knowledge of the region’s terroir, climate, grape varietals and decades of wine-making expertise.
For a more hands-on approach, check out chef Mackenzie Rupp’s cooking classes, which showcase not only California fare, but how to pair wine with holiday staples, pasta, tacos and more.
To test out your newfound knowledge, head to Goosecross Cellars in Yountville to experience a behind-the-scenes tour, learn about how the vino gets made and, of course, sample the collection. Visiting this winery also puts you within arm’s reach of renowned Napa toque Thomas Keller’s Five-Star The French Laundry. Just make sure to get a reservation as soon as possible for your meal there.
It’s right there in the name: the Italian Wine Institute is the place to learn about the country’s best vintages. Each month, the venue hosts one master class that covers topics like Italy’s sparkling regions, single varietals and dessert wines. The center also offers elaborate, six-wine tastings daily (save Sunday) covering regional varieties.
If you really want to dive deep into Italian wines, sign up for the two-part boot camp. The intensive workshop covers wine law, geography, viticulture, industry trends and much more. Learn about the country’s northern varietals during the first session (March 3 to 6, 2020) and southern staples during the second (November 17 to 20, 2020). Pass this course to flaunt the title of Italian Wine Scholar.
Between lessons, check into Forbes Travel Guide Recommended Hotel Lungarno. Just five minutes from the institute, this stylish boutique hotel (it’s part of the Ferragamo family’s Lungarno Collection) curates an impressive list of more than 1,000 bottles. Toast your newfound knowledge with a leisurely glass of vino at the Picteau Cocktail Bar while looking out at the iconic Ponte Vecchio.
That’s right — you can learn all about grapes in the Big Apple when you visit this energetic music venue, restaurant and working urban winery. While the Soho location closed in June, a new Pier 57 space is in the works and expected to open in March 2020.
Head winemaker David Lecomte has created some intricate programs to not only educate people on vino, but let them have a hand in making some, too. Choose from classes geared toward creating a specific blend or go all out with the barrel program. This unique offering allows you to try customizing your own sip, though you may want to plan trips back to the city to taste it while it ages.
Of course, there are tours of the facility as well, which educate you on the setup of this multi-location operation — venues in other cities such as Chicago and Nashville also have courses — and the winemaking process.
After taste-testing, rest your head nearby at Forbes Travel Guide Recommended The William Vale. This modern spot provides a 15,000-square-foot park on the roof and balconies in every room — both of which beg for skyline viewing while sipping on some of that NYC wine you just discovered.
French Wine Adventures in Southwest France
Though the name proves whimsical, the education you’ll receive by signing up for these intricate courses is anything but. Select from an array of classes, such as the two-hour introduction lesson, the half-day vineyard tour followed by a wine-and-food pairing or the two-hour intro to winemaking.
The company even has a “Play Winemaker For a Day” course where you learn how to create your own blend and then make your own bottle to enjoy later. All sessions kick off at Chateau Feely, a bed and breakfast in Saussignac, about an hour from Bordeaux and all the delicious wine to be found there.
Stay at Hotel des Quinconces in Bordeaux to add some pomp to your wine-fueled vacation. It’s in a 19th-century mansion, and while the décor has been updated to include standalone bathtubs and modern furnishings, the classic feel remains.