Once upon a time, vacations were all about the beach, sand and crystal-clear waters. Now, it seems there’s a new reason to stamp your passport – welcome to enotourism.
Enotourism, the emerging trend of traveling specifically to experience the wines of the world, is rapidly growing. With the era of social media and influencers among us, the constant sharing of lavish vacations, food, wine and culture has inspired travelers more than ever to book trips and venture off for a unique gastronomic experience. As Europe accounts for approximately 65% of the world’s wine production, what better place to enjoy your first vino-centric vacation?
And if it’s a unique experience you’re craving imagine cruising amongst the vineyards of Burgundy or sipping the Rieslings of Potsdam aboard your very own river cruiser. Le Boat, Europe’s largest operator of self-drive boating vacations and a leader in unique travel, has found five of the must-see European destinations for wine lovers to tour and raise a glass.
Canal Du Midi, France
The South of France needs no introduction. Uncover the country’s beauty while cruising along the historic Canal du Midi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Wine lovers need to visit Languedoc, one of the country’s finest wine regions which includes smaller regions such as Herault, the Aude, Minervois and Corbieres. Most of these vineyards border the canal itself, making it easy to pull up and sample wine straight on the water while sailing Le Boat’s Languedoc Vineyards Cruise. Specializing in rich, full-bodied reds, unoaked whites, and rosés, there’s something for every wine pallet. Along the way, make a pit stop at one of the many medieval villages and ancient fortress cities, like the La Cité, one of the best-preserved medieval castles in Europe. Once you’re done exploring for the day, sit back and enjoy that perfect bottle of rouge onboard while overlooking the tranquil French landscape.
This northern region of Germany is home to some of the country’s best kept secrets. Producing quality Rieslings, and Burgundies, cruising through these canals on the Flowers & Gardens Cruise, while enjoying a glass of Germany’s finest, is worth the visit alone. Don’t forget to pack your camera as nearby Vineyards like Villa Jacobs are set on truly magical landscapes. Fit for a postcard, the area was home to the German Kaiser and Prussian kings, so the city’s architecture reflects the royalty of years past. Late summer is an ideal time to visit Potsdam as there are 20 different vintners and festivals across the country’s many wine regions attracting over 500,000 visitors a year.
For this list Belgium’s famous ales and decadent waffles are taking the back seat! Though just a small wine producer, what Flanders lacks in vinicultural status it surely makes up for in beauty and high-quality produce. While drifting along on the Chocolates and Lace Cruise which travels through the many Belgian canals, drop anchor in this Dutch speaking region, located in the country’s north. Flanders boasts a wide range of Chardonnays, Pinot Gris, Rieslings and Pinot Noirs. Be sure to check out the chateau of Genoels-Elderen in Limburg where guests can expect to be served a variety of nuts, meats, cheeses and desserts paired with a variety of house made wines. (YUM!) The best part? The vineyard is located on the ground of a Belgian castle, giving visitors the full fairytale experience.
This regional capital offers incredible sights, authentic and mouthwatering Italian cuisine, and of course the notorious wine, now that’s amore! Though the country is famous for its reds, this northern wine region of Italy is best known for its dry and sweet wines, Soave and Prosecco, both native to the Veneto region. With the Alps protecting Veneto from the harsh Mediterranean temperatures, its cooler climate and moderate precipitation make for the perfect environment to grow a variety of white grapes. It’s no surprise that Italy is one of Le Boat’s top vacation destinations, as places like Veneto have a large assortment of wine tours guests can take to relish in the culture of the region, taste the wine, and indulge in gastronomy. Le Boat’s Jewels of Italy Long Break cruise is the perfect excuse to check out all of Veneto’s finest wineries, as the 10-14 day voyage makes stops at different ports throughout the region of Veneto. Dock the boat in Casale for the day, and head to Faccioli Estate, where you can indulge in their several different house wines.
We couldn’t roundup Europe’s top wine destinations without mentioning Burgundy! With Le Boat’s Burgundy Vineyards Cruise running right through the wine capital, this grape paradise is a must see on your private cruiser. This Eastern region of France produces some of the most notable vino in the world. These wines, commonly referred to as Burgundies, are a variety of whites made from Chardonnay grapes and dry reds produced from Pinot Noir grapes. Spending the day at the local Domaine Château de Pommard, a family owned and operated vineyard for over 300 years, will give you the full Burgundy experience. This winery has six different packages guest can choose from each offering a different educational tasting experience. Visiting Burgundy will not only give travelers an unforgettable trip filled with romance and exploration, but with every sip of Burgundy’s finest, you’ll also get a taste of history and evolution, as archeologists believe viticulture in this region of France, began around second century AD.