Wine is always a fine thing to enjoy while on holiday (even if by “holiday” you mean Wednesday after a long day when you finally get home, surely that counts) and if you are passionate about it, turning it into the highlight of your trip is definitively something worth doing.
We are lucky to have a large amount of direct flights to numerous wine regions departing from Ireland and many of them are just a handful of hours away. And yes, a trip to Australia’s Yarra Valley is an unforgettable experience and California is both beyond beautiful and well organised when it comes to wine tourism, but if you are hoping to plan a shorter vinous escape, check out the following list of regions you can explore from Dublin which are closer to home.
Before you book your tickets
It is important that you check if the wineries you’d like to visit have visitor centres and whether these are open at the time of your visit. Also, many wine regions hold fairs and festivals so it won’t hurt to browse the local tourism page to find out what’s going on before you choose your date of travel.
One of the world’s top wine regions is just a two and a half hour flight away from Dublin. Both Aer Lingus and Air France will take you to Bordeaux Airport directly and from there, you won’t be far from wine country. One of the closest wineries to visit from the Airport, Chateau Carbonnieux, offers an award-winning oenoturism experience and is under 30 min drive from the airport (or an hour and a half via public transport).
Other wineries that are popular with visitors include Château La Dominique, Château Papé Clément, Château Mouton Rotschild, Château Kirwan (find out more about this winery’s story here) and Château Lynch-Bages.
Another must-see is Bordeaux’s La Cité du Vin, an €80 million attraction appropriately nicknamed “Disneyland for Wine Lovers.”
Michel Lynch Organic Red Bordeaux 2014
€15.95, available at O’Briens Wine
A classic Merlot-based affordable red that checks all the right boxes.
Fruity, mellow, medium-bodied and with a pleasant and balanced finish.
Another oenotourism heavyweight is Spain’s most famous wine region. To get to Rioja, your best best is to fly to Bilbao Airport, and Aer Lingus will take you there in just above two hours. Add another hour in the car and you’ll reach the town of Haro, one of the best bases to explore the region.
Once there, the best way to squeeze as much as you want in a day or two is to visit the wineries surrounding the historical Haro Station District. There, seven of Rioja’s finest wineries are located within walking distance from each other: Cvne, Bodegas Muga, Bodegas Gómez Cruzado, La Rioja Alta S.A., Roda, R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia and Bodegas Bilbaínas Viña Pomal, which together add up over 750 years of winemaking mastery.
Best time to go? During La Cata de la Estación, an annual festival which takes place in June and that sees the district filled with music, food, events and activities to complement your vinous enjoyment.
Viña Tondonia Reserva
€39.95, available at Baggot Street Wines, 64 Wines
A classic red from an uncompromisingly traditional winery.
Rich, bold and intense, with ripe black fruit, vanilla and toast in generous quantities.
Want to discover the hometown of the super star fizz? Your nearest airport is Venice Treviso (two hours, forty minutes away) and Ryanair offers great value and direct flights. Add a one hour drive or hour and a half bus trip to Valdobbiadene and you’ll be in the heart of the village.
You can then proceed to follow the Strada del Prosecco, literally a 25 mile long Prosecco trail that connects Conegliano and Valdobbiadene and encompasses some of the region’s top wineries (including Frozza, Furlan, La Casa Vecchia, Le Bertole, Cantine Umberto Bortolotti and dozens more) as well as museums, historical sites, restaurants and other attractions to enhance your experience. Did we mention that the landscape itself is beautiful too? Road trip goals.
You can blend your trip to Valdobbiadene with a day in Venice itself (in that case, February is a fine time to go, especially during the world-famous Venice Carnival).
Mionetto Prosecco DOC Treviso Extra Dry
€20, available at Little Italy
Balanced, off-dry and classic Prosecco from a leading producer.
Very lively fizz and a fruity combination of aromas of fresh limes, nectarines and green apples.
Austria’s capital is home to over 600 hectares of vineyards within the city’s boundaries. Fly directly from Dublin in just under 3 hours with Aer Lingus or British Airways.
There are many wineries and heurigers (wine taverns) worth a stop, and you don’t need to go too far to find them. Looking to fill the list? Add Mayer am Pfarrplatz (where Beethoven once lived), Weingut am Reisenberg (on a hill, so, great views) and Wieninger (modern and biodynamic) to your itinerary.
When should I go? Wile it’s tempting to merge the trip with a ski holiday, if wine is your priority, make it your business to have your trip coinciding with VieVinum, a major wine festival held every other year (2018’s edition will take place between the 9th to the 11th of June). Read more about Austrian wines here.
Wieninger Wiener Gemischter Satz DAC Nussberg 2015
€35.99, available at The Corkscrew, Redmond’s of Ranelagh
An unusual Austrian of amazing full-bodied finesse, part of the “New Vienna” movement.
Ripe lemons, honeysuckle and a waxy character wrap your palate, lingering pleasantly for a long time.
British wine has earned global respect and it’s only getting better. The region of Kent, one of the most prestigious, is an hour away in the car from London’s Gatwick Airport (which you can get to from Dublin in about one hour and a half) and if flying at breakfast time and being there before lunchtime wasn’t good enough, it’s an English speaking place!
When in Kent, some of the wineries that are very friendly towards visitors include Biddenden Vineyards, Chapel Down, The Mount Vineyard and Barnsole Vineyard. You’ll find plenty of detailed recommendations on the site kentvineyards.com.
English Sparkling Reserve Brut NV
€33.50, available at M&S
A blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Meunier from Kent, Essex and Sussex made by Kent’s Chapel Down.
Thick, creamy mousse, aromas of limoncello, ripe citrus and a delicate green note.
Gabriela’s passion for writing is only matched by her love for food and wine. Journalist, confectioner and sommelier, she fell in love with Ireland years ago and moved from Venezuela to Dublin in 2014.
Since then, she has written about and worked in the local food scene, and she’s determined to discover and share the different traditions, flavours and places that have led Irish food and drink to fascinate her.