Wine tour guides worldwide
will attest that every day in wine country is a good day, but harvest season makes those days extra special. Right now, workers, volunteers, visitors and vineyard owners are picking, sorting, crushing and tasting fresh grapes, making consumers’ futures all the more brighter. Although this is a serious step in the winemaking process (it’s important to crush the grapes and get the juice into tanks ASAP), it’s equally fun, especially when it involves pigeage,
or grape stomping, a method of old-fashioned maceration in which one crushes grapes by foot in vats to release their juices and begin fermentation.
Peak harvest season in the Northern Hemisphere typically falls between August and October although the ultimate time of harvest is determined by grapes’ ripeness, which is based on sugar, acid and tannin levels, as well as what winemakers have in mind for their vintage’s style of wine.Wineries in Europe and North America are in all-hands-on-deck mode and with that in mind, we’ve come up with a list of the best wine tours to sign up for with wine guides in Napa, in Sonoma, France, Spain, Italy, and Canada.
To experience five-star, off-the-beaten-path wineries that give you a comprehensive insider’s view of Northern California’s wine country, join James Matuszewski
for his tour, Sommelier for a Day. Alongside James, a certified sommelier through the International Sommelier Guild, and a Napa local for more than two decades, you will meet winemakers and winery owners, learn about food and wine pairings, get the lowdown on the wine business, taste exclusive wines that are not offered to the public, and learn the complete vine-to-bottle wine procedure.
and Don Rickard
, two veteran wine tour guides based in Northern California’s world-famous Napa Valley, will show you award-winning boutique vineyards where you can taste world-class cabernets, pinot noirs, chardonnays and zinfandels, meet winemakers and winery owners, and learn tidbits of local wine-making history and culture. On their Group Charter Tours and Private Wine Tours, Jenny and Don strive to show you the best of Napa while leaving all the logistics to a team of skilled wine guides.
For a wine tour you won’t forget, hop on board Erin and Jake
’s Napa Valley Tour, an interesting and informative fully-narrated tour of Napa’s best wineries and vineyards along the legendary Silverado Trail that includes wine tasting and luxury transportation. On the bus between three select boutique wineries, you’ll hear great tunes to keep you groovin’, and in the vineyards, you’ll hear stories about harvesting.
On Derick Martin
’s Napa Valley Private Tour, guiding happens a little differently: Derick drives your
car, taking you on custom tours to various wineries that most fit your interests. It’s a win-win for both: Derick likes experiencing a multitude of car types, and you get to enjoy a tour that meets your every need and works around your own schedule.
’s Farm-to-Table tour is a wine tour with bonuses: it includes learning about fresh, local, organic, and seasonal dishes prepared by award winning chefs, winemakers, and local artisans, getting insider access to Healdsburg and learning about the rich history that makes this area a top wine producing region in the world, and tasting not only truly amazing wine, but delicious local bites too. Farm-to-Table is a tour to attend during Fall harvest because it takes you to a whopping six one-of-a-kind tasting destinations, destinations that prove just why Sonoma is known as a food-and-wine-lover’s paradise.
To enjoy a thorough day of wine tasting in NorCal’s Sonoma Valley, as well as a pleasant picnic lunch in the ground of a quaint winery, join Adam Marca
on his Sonoma Valley Tour. Adam’s groups are small, meaning you will get a more personalized experience in wine country, and the small size also guarantees you will be able to hear a plethora of stories behind the likes of wine harvesting season. Perks include pick-up and drop-off at your San Francisco hotel, a narrative on San Francisco history and neighborhoods, a photo stop at Golden Gate Bridge, a one-hour visit to the town of Sonoma, and free chocolate and cheese tastings!
The vineyard landscape of Saint-Emilion and Pomerol are so extraordinary, UNESCO has even named them World Heritage Sites. Karen Labardin
, the mastermind behind the tour Wine and Heritage in Saint-Emilion and Pomerol,
will not only take you to one of the world’s most phenomenal wine spots, she’ll also guide you through the medieval village of Saint-Emilion, showing you historic castles and catacombs. Touring castles in France is charming enough, but add in vineyards and harvest season, and you’ve got one hard-to-beat guided trip ahead of you.
Born and raised in Burgundy’s Côte de Nuits wine region, wine guide Christopher Viardot
is one of the most qualified people out there to show you around that part of the France’s wineries. Not only that, he’s passionate about sharing his knowledge, passionate about answering all your questions, and, importantly, passionate about wine. On his tour, Burgundy 5-course Menu, you will tour the vineyards of the Côte de Nuits, enjoy a comprehensive wine tasting, eat lunch in a historic castle, and taste various fruit liquors, cassis (a blackcurrant liquor first created in Dijon) and local cheeses in a picturesque former wine cellar. France’s harvest season is beautiful enough to get anyone to want to travel there in the Fall, but with the promise of wine and cheese tasting, as well as touring a historic castle, the prospect of heading to the part of Europe becomes irresistible.
From going on a balloon tour over Barcelona alongside sightseeing guide Benjamin Pellet
to exploring stunning Seville on electric bikes with Sofia Delclaux
, tour guides in Spain make sure there’s plenty of fun things to do in their part of the world no matter what time of year it is. But in the Fall, we suggest saddling up to Spanish wine guide Meritxell Omella
for a private wine tour in Priorat region just outside of Barcelona. Priorat produces world-famous wines, many of which you will be able to taste with Meritxcell, and you’ll be able to taste that much more since driving is not an issue: guests take trains on Meritxcell’s guided tours, ensuring everyone can drink as much as they desire!
Wine guide Paddy Magnum Mannion
is also one mega foodie, and a sucker for Spain’s historic castles and Romanesque churches. On his Classic Barcelona Wine Country Culture Tour
, not only will you have the opportunity to taste a whole slew of delicious award-winning Spanish wines, you’ll also be able to sample at least 9 traditional Catalan dishes (accompanied by local wines) in quaint village restaurants. Spain’s harvest season is, without a doubt, stunning (and mighty delicious!) enough, but throw in breathtaking landscapes and historic buildings, and you’ve got one unforgettable experience.
Going on a wine tour in Italy during harvest season is something everyone
should do at least once in their lifetime; it’s simply too special an experience to miss out on. And, when you do so, be sure to hire Annalaura Tili
, an Italian wine guide whose family owns an organic winery in Umbria, to show you around some of Italy’s most cherished wine regions. Annalaura will take you on a memorable trip to quaint vineyards, wineries and olive orchards that produce to-die-for olive oil, and all along the way you’ll be able to taste local wines, hot bruschette drizzled with her family’s homemade organic extra virgin olive oil, a selection of salamis from Norcia, Umbrian cheeses, and traditional sweets. The topper: all of this tasting is done amongst some of the world’s most breathtaking, unspoiled countryside scenery.
If you’re visiting Sicily (especially during harvest), don’t pass up wine guide Gianni Grillo
’s Enogastronomy Excursion. And he’s not joking when he says “excursion:” alongside Gianni, you’ll visit several main wineries where you will have the opportunity to taste wine galore, local farms where the famers make wine with their own feet, and pastry and sweet shops where you will the art of making cannolis. But wait, there’s more: you will also go to a tasting spot for olive oil where you will learn the process of making the liquid gold, you will experience what it takes to make ricotta cheese, and you will be able to enjoy pizza in the area’s best pizzeria (bonus: you will be able to get a behind-the-scenes tour of the restaurant’s kitchen!).
Canada’s wine scene may be less known than that of Europe and Northern California, but Megan Balsillie
, a wine guide based in Ontario who loves apples, coffee, chocolate and, well, wine, will prove to you that Canada sports one epic harvest season. How? On her 1 O’Clock Cruise that takes you to three charming and successful local wineries. Alongside Megan, not only will you be able to taste some of Canada’s best wines, you will also learn all about the country’s harvest, as well as Canadian wine’s heritage. The only thing that adds to the charm of visiting Canadian wineries is joining Megan for a leisurely ride down quiet country roads and along the north coastline of Lake Erie.