Photo: Santa Margherita wine tour © SANTA MARGHERITA
JUST AS A GOOD WINE CAN ENHANCE an experience within a destination, a good destination can help enhance the experience with a bottle of wine. Wine tourism is on the rise around the world, cultivating a passionate following of like-minded travelers looking to savor the true flavor of a region while gaining involved insight into the art that takes place behind the label.
Wine tours are offered in some of the world’s most iconic wine regions including Tuscany in Italy, Burgundy and Champagne in France, the Napa and Willamette valleys in the United States and in the birthplace of wine, the Republic of Georgia.
Guided wine tours can take visitors behind the scenes of their favorite wines or discover new flavors in a new region of the world by wandering through the vineyards, breathing in the scent of the local air and soil, and chatting or tasting alongside the winemakers themselves. Something remarkable happens when basking in the same sunshine that ripens the grapes while sipping the fruit of past vintages — bringing a deeper understanding of the complexities that take place within the glass.
For one family in France’s renowned Burgundy region, bringing visitors behind the label often means delving deep into history. The Drouhin family has actively made wine since 1880, and today Maison Joseph Drouhin produces some of the world’s finest wines from its vineyards in France’s Burgundy region and Oregon’s Willamette Valley.
“Joseph Drouhin is not just a name, it is a fourthgeneration family with passion dedicated to the region,” says Laurent Drouhin, director of the United States market, Maison Joseph Drouhin Wines. He notes the tours of the Burgundy estate are unique due to the history that lies beneath the ground. “[Touring our historic cellars] is the best way to get the feel of what we have been doing in Beaune for more than a century. … History through the walls gives another dimension to the wines, and visitors are able to realize that it is not simply a beverage but a wine that will tell you stories.”
Many of the stories from the Drouhin estate include the four children’s experience growing up among the vines and cellars, where Veronique and Philippe would race along the barrel tracks in roller skates past vintages dating beyond their birth years. Other stories include how the cellars were used to support the nearby Hospice de Bellville during World War II. Today visitors trace the ancient passageways as they wind through the cellars and enter into the modern-day wine shop from a clandestine backdoor entrance.
Wine tours aren’t limited to the vineyards themselves. Tour operators like Swedish-based BKWine Tours, U.K.-based Grape Escapes and U.S.-based Avalon Wine Tours specialize in wine tours in the best wine regions around the world. These operators offer more than itineraries of tasting appointments and instead bring guests along for wine-themed journeys, often elevated with luxury lodging, Michelin-starred dining experiences, private tastings, harvest experiences and more.