TRAVEL

 

Great wine inevitably has a sense of place, and is a product of both the natural environment and human culture in which it is birthed. What better way is there to gain a deeper appreciation of a region's wine than to visit the vineyards that produced it? Fortunately, wine regions are often very accessible and open to tourists, and one of my favourite occupations is to combine a holiday with a visit to wine country. On the following pages you'll find my illustrated accounts of trips that I have enjoyed to various wine regions, together with tips on how to get the best from your own forays into wine country.

Alternative Bordeaux (September 2014)

Provence (September 2014)

British Columbia, Canada (June 2014)
The Okanagan Valley, a four-hour drive from Vancouver on Canada's west coast, is a scenically beautiful wine region, making increasingly impressive wines. I visit for the first time.

Oregon revisited (July 2014)

Central Otago revisited (February 2014)

Ontario, Canada (July 2013)
Canada is making great strides as a wine-producing country. Here I report on a visit to Niagara and Prince Edward County in Ontario.

Hemel-en-Aarde, South Africa (March 2013)
This is one of South Africa's most exciting regions at the moment, and is gaining a reputation for Pinot Noir in particular. I check out some of the top producers.

Alsace (June 2012, October 2012)
One of France's most picture-perfect wine regions, specializing in aromatic white grape varieties. This was my first visit, and I was hooked.

Stellenbosch revisited (March 2012)
South Africa's largest and most famous wine regiuon. I had overlooked it on recent visits, so it was time to go back. I'm glad I did.

The Swartland, South Africa (November 2011)
The Swartland Revolution is one of the world's top wine events, in my opinion, at least. I visit this dynamic wine region to take in some revolutionary spirit.

Russia's vineyards (September 2011)
My first visit to Russia takes me to the Black Sea Coast, where many of Russia's vineyards are located. It's an eye-opening visit.

Visiting the Symingtons in the Douro, Portugal (September 2011)
The Symington family own some of the leading Port houses, including Graham's, Warre's and Dow's. I take a visit to Vila Nova de Gaia and then the Douro to get a feel for their work.

The diversity of Chile (December 2010)
Chile's newer, cool-climate wine regions are attracting a lot of interest. This, my second visit to the country, takes me from the Bo Bo Valley in the south to the magical Elqui valley in the far north, with lots of discoveries on the way  

Rioja, Spain (October 2010)
The most famous of Spain's wine regions, and well known for its oak-aged reds. I visit a range of different wineries, from the small to very large.

Martinborough, New Zealand (February 2010)
Located near to the capital, Wellington, Martinborough is a small region famous for its Pinot Noir, but also making really good Syrah (in tiny quantities) and Sauvignon Blanc. 

Central Otago, New Zealand (February 2010)
At the bottom of South Island, Central Otago is one of New Zealand's most exciting wine regions, making great strides with Pinot Noir. It's a wild, intense place to visit.

South Africa revisited (November 2009 and October 2010)
Time to head back to the beautiful winelands of the western Cape, to see the progress made by South Africa's leading producers. And two recent trips have confirmed that there has been lots of progress.

California's Napa Valley (November 2009)
The USA's most famous wine region is in easy striking distance of San Francisco, and it's well set up for wine tourism. I visit, and discover that there's substance behind all the style - this is a great place for growing wine grapes.

Quinta do Noval and the Taylor group, Douro, Portugal (September 2009)
It's harvest time in the Douro, and I combine a trip to two different producers: Quinta do Noval, and the Taylor group (visiting Taylor's, Fonseca and Croft).

Burgundy (June 2009)
One of the world's great wine regions, a trip to Burgundy is a bit like a pilgrimage. You just have to visit once in your life. On this trip I'm lucky enough to get into some of the top domaines, and check out some of the most famous vineyards.

Germany's wine regions (May 2009)
I'm on the Riesling trail, visiting Germany's top wine regions. This is spectacular wine country: in particular, the ultra-steep Mosel vineyards are one of the wonders of the world. 

Vinho Verde, Portugal (November 2008)
Vinho Verde country, in the north of Portugal, is very pretty. This is where crisp, mineral, slightly spritzy whites and incredibly vivid, fresh red wines find their home.

Tuscany (October 2008)
Chianti Classico, the central portion of Tuscany's most famous region, is an area of beautiful rolling hills, cypress trees, old farmhouses and vineyards. I check out some of the leading producers, and witness the harvest underway.

Oregon (July 2008)
With its rolling hills, Oregon has some beautiful wine country. Its boutique, small-scale producers are getting quite a reputation for their Pinot Noirs, which in many critics' eyes are the best outside Burgundy. I visit the International Pinot Noir Celebration, and then head off to see the vineyards.

Mendoza, Argentina (March 2008)
Argentina is famous for its two 'M's - Meat and Malbec. Mendoza is its leading region, and this is the destination for my first foray into Argentine wine country, visiting some of the vineyards nestled into the foothills of the Andes. 

Chile (January 2008)
A long thin country bounded by the Andes on one side and the Pacific on the other, Chile has probably improved more over the last decade or two than any other wine nation. I visit to judge the Wines of Chile awards and look around the wine regions.

New Zealand (November 2007)
Ultra-desirable travel destination New Zealand is a bit of a wine tourist's paradise. Both north and south islands have beautiful vineyard regions, and travelling around is a real doddle. I visited a range of producers in four regions, ranging from the large to the tiny. 

Margaret River, Western Australia (April 2007)
Western Australia's premier wine region may be a bit isolated, but since its birth almost 40 years ago, it has developed a huge reputation for top quality Cabernet and Chardonnay, as well as its distinctive Semillon Sauvignon blends. And with beautiful beaches only ten minutes away, it's an ideal destination for a holiday.

The Yarra Valley (March 2006)
Since its rebirth in the 1970s, after wine production had stopped for 50 years, the Yarra has established a reputation as one of Australia's premium cool-climate regions. I visited and was delighted to discover some fantastic wines. 

Swiss vineyards (January 2006)
Off the radar screens of most wine nuts, Switzerland is currently making some really good wines in a diversity of styles. I spend some time in the vineyards and taste with 25 of the leading producers.

South Africa's winelands (December 2005)
A return to Cape Town gave me a chance to check out some of the new wave of South African wines, as well as catching up with some of the more dynamic favourites. You can find out how I got on here. 

The Alentejo, Portugal (June 2005)
In Portugal's new wine revolution, two regions are leading the pack by some way. There's the Douro, which I've covered in depth elsewhere on this site, and the Alentejo, the focus of this series. It's an open, sunny land, with a vista of wheat fields, cork groves, and increasingly vineyards, making some impressive wines. 

Austria (October 2004)
It's no longer a secret that Austria makes some fantastic wines, both white and red. In October 2004 I toured the Burgenland and Kamptal/Kremstal regions, meeting some of the leading producers - here's my report.

The New Barossa (September 2004, October 2005)
The historical heartland of the Australian wine industry, the Barossa saw hard times in the 1980s when attention shifted to cooler-climate regions. But now it's back, and a raft of young winemakers is revitalizing the wine scene there: in this extensive series, based on two visits, I take a look at what's going on.

The Clare Valley (September 2004)
The Clare is a slightly sleepy, but beautiful small wine region in South Australia. I take a look and discover some lovely wines.

The New Douro
(May 2004)
Back in 2002, Jamie Goode first visited Portugal's spectacular Douro region to report on the table wine revolution that was taking place. In May 2004 he revisited the region, to delve deeper and see how progress was going. Here's his in-depth, illustrated report.

Hotel reviews and
travel tips

Portugal's Do (May 2004)
The Northern Portuguese wine region of the Do is a region currently undergoing a transformation. Previously the preserve of thousands of smallholders, new high quality producers are now making really interesting red wines from grapes grown on primarily granitic soils, although rustic, old-style wines are still common. Jamie Goode visits the leading players in this enigmatic region. 

South Africa's winelands (February 2003)
The Cape winelands are becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination. With the beautiful scenery, great wines and the relative weakness of the Rand (making it a very cheap destination) it is not hard to see why. This fully illustrated report begins with a review of the Constantia wine route, and will later extend to Stellenbosch and Paarl. 

The Douro, Portugal (June 2002)
Famous as the home of Port, the Douro is now also an exciting source of table wines. With its spectacular scenery and the recent emergence of some exciting new producers, the Douro is pretty close to wine geek heaven. This mammoth 12 part series, based on a five day trip in June 2002, charts the progress of the Douro wine revolution.

Sevilla (June 2002)
Not a wine region, but the capital of southern Spain is the perfect place for a city break, with its exciting, vibrant atmosphere and cultural diversity. A great destination for tapas bar crawling, washing the food down with crisp fino sherry. 

Mudgee, New South Wales (March 2000)
A sleepy town just over the dividing range from its more illustrious neighbour the Hunter Valley, Mudgee is on the up, now making some stunning red wines. In this area, scene of a gold rush in the 1870s, wine is the new gold.

The Hunter Valley (March 2000)
One of the historic wine growing areas of Australia, the Hunter Valley at first glance seems ill-suited to producing fine wines: its too hot, and harvest time is often disrupted by rain. But only two hours drive from Sydney, it is a great place for some wine tourism, and I was pleasantly surprised by some of the excellent wines that are being made here. This illustrated report includes full details of visits to 12 of the leading producers. 

Peter May's Cape Vineyard Tour, South Africa
Peter May, who runs the Pinotage Club (www.pinotage.org), takes us on a guided tour through the Cape wine lands. In his illustrated guide, he presents three potential routes, depending on the time you have available. The wine anorak is proud to present this valuable resource for anyone planning a wine trip to South Africa. See also: Cape Town with kids, a guide for wine lovers with families.

Visiting vineyards
Ever felt like touring wine country, but not sure how to do it? Tips and advice for those planning to visit wine country for the first time.

Southern France wine tour (September 1998)
Southern France offers some of the most diverse and scenic wine country, and the added attraction of visiting domains from a UK perspective is that you can bring back your purchases easily and cheaply (although if you travel in the summer you run the very real risk of having your wine baked on route: beware!). This tour took in the regions of the Northern and Southern Rhone, the Languedoc, the Roussillon and Provence.  

The Vaud, Switzerland (July 1999)
In the UK wines from just about every wine producing nation are readily available, but we don't often see wines from Switzerland. As a consequence, it's quite easy to forget that Switzerland produces quite a lot of usually high quality wines. We took a trip to some of the scenic vineyards on the slopes of Lac Leman, an easy drive out from Geneva, to find out more.

California: Santa Ynez and Sonoma (September 1997)
California makes an ideal location for those wishing to combine a touring holiday with visits to wineries. As well as sampling some of this states stunning and diverse natural beauty, we managed to get a flavour of two of the more interesting wine regions, Santa Ynez (near Santa Barbara) and Sonoma (which has often lived in the shadow of its more glitzy neighbour, Napa).  

The Barossa Valley South Australia (March 1996)
My first *ever* visit to wine country was to the Barossa, in South Australia. Along with the Hunter Valley, the Barossa is one of the two historical heartlands of Australian wine, and over the last decade or so has itself undergone a mini-revival, as the world has taken notice of the deep, generous, concentrated wines this region produces, often from unfeasibly old, low-yielding vines. It's also a wonderfully friendly and easy region to visit. I'd just love to go back again.

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