Do you have a “Do It Yourself” approach (or budget) to travel but still want unique wine experiences? DIY wine travel can be no less luxurious than a guided tour and still offer great local adventures. It might take a bit more effort up front, but it can be very rewarding. We’ve put together some great tips and resources to help you get started planning your own unique wine tour.
Step one. The destination
Daydreaming about far off destinations can be a fun part of the travel planning process. Maybe you want to visit some of your favorite wineries and see how their wine is made. A great way to start is to plan around specific festivals or the harvest season. If you subscribe to the “spin the globe and point” method of travel planning our visual search feature might be for you. With it you can just use the map to browse and zoom in to find great local experiences. Another resource with a similar aim is Kayak Explore, where you can choose a month and it will show you where you can fly for a specific amount of money. When in the planning phase it’s a good way to generate ideas that you might not have thought of.
Step two. Where to stay
If you are looking for wine based travel, why not stay at a winery? Many wineries have rooms set up as bed and breakfasts that you won’t find on most booking sites. So to arrange you might have to send off an email to confirm the details ahead of time. If you can’t locate a winery to stay with, other local experiences can be found now in relative ease with sites like Airbnb. Using Airbnb you can rent out a private apartment, house, or even a wine barrel! Either way, there are alternatives to staying at expensive hotels that can give a much more authentic local experience.
Step three. Wine, the main event.
Gather up a list of wineries and get on the road. Make sure they are open for visitors first or send them an email ahead of time to arrange a visit. As an alternative many wine regions have suggested wine routes that list wineries that are open for visitors. These are a great resource to use when trying to fit multiple visits into a short time period. Some also offer shared transport between wineries which is a great way to meet fellow wine travelers.
As you won’t have a guide to give you regional background info, it’s a good idea to do your research ahead of time. Look for info about the most famous wines from the region as well as what makes it unique compared to its neighbors. Many of these same regional websites that offer routes also have information about the grapes grown and are a good place to start your research.
Bonus Tip: Any travel can be wine travel, even if you are not heading to a winery. On a recent trip to Macau, a former Portugese colony, we discovered that many local stores feature great Portuguese wine at amazing prices. So be sure to check out your local stores when visiting a new place. You can create your own local wine experience yourself!
Step 4. Food
Food is the ultimate compliment to wine travel. Wineries you visit likely have a few local food suggestions that pair well with their wine. Review sites like Foursquare, Yelp, or Google Maps can help you quickly identify where the locals are eating and help weed out the tourist traps. Though don’t be afraid of trying something new. Sometimes just hitting the streets and seeing what’s available will lead you to some unexpected culinary adventures.
Step 5. Relax
The most memorable travel experiences often revolve around the people you meet on the way. Grab some bottles from the wineries you visit and share with some other travelers to create some lasting memories on your very own DIY wine tour.
Do you have any DIY wine travel tips? Let us know in the comments below.
A few of our wine regions that you can reference for finding wine routes and regional information: