In Beaune, France, we enjoyed an affordable wine tasting by candlelight at the Marche Aux Vins after touring the picturesque and historic hospice in the village, and pottery shopping at the weekly market. Later that same month, returning from a scenic drive on Mount Baldo in Northern Italy, we stumbled across a castle that was also a functioning winery. There is a broad menu of wine-tasting options during vacations and short excursions.
Festivals: Food and wine festivals are a great way to experience a variety of wines without the cost of additional international travel or the need to purchase bottles by the case. Forks and Corks, the annual festival held in Sarasota, Florida, features a variety of wine-tasting events and food works by numerous celebrity chefs. Brisbane, Australia hosts a fine wine festival every year with master wine classes as a large part of the event. Check www.localwineevents.com for a listing of food and wine festivals around the world.
Activities: If you're going for a more diverse travel itinerary, stopping off at a particular winery for a tasting session makes for a fun activity. On a road trip from Beirut, Lebanon to see the ancient ruins of Baalbek, we stopped at the Ksara wine caves for a tour and sampling session. While taking a scenic drive through southern Arizona to see Cochise's stronghold in Coronado National Forest, with a stopover in historic Tombstone, we stopped in Patagonia to check out the various family vineyards and wineries in the area. The activity provided an unexpected cultural pairing with our visit to the OK Corral. Stuck in the city? Various Whole Foods Market stores throughout the country offer wine tasting sessions on a regular basis.
Destinations: Certain destinations are known for their wine tourism, as well as their culture and nature offerings. Book a family adventure in the off season for great rates, and have a getaway everyone can enjoy. Northern Italy boasts numerous wineries around Lake Garda, a popular place to go wind surfing. Roman ruins and castles are also close by. The nation of Chile offers affordable South American travel prices with wine tasting, nature tours and astronomy tourism at the European Southern Observatory in the Atacama Desert. Wineriesbystate.com lists options for wine tourism in every state, if fuel prices have you staying closer to home this year. For those living in or near the state of Pennsylvania, wine tasting options are particularly plentiful.