Travel to French wine country in December, HELP!
Hi Hounders, my hubby and I are thinking of traveling to France in the winter (Have to be in the UK for Xmas and wanted to make it somewhat fun ;-) )
I'd thought about going to a wine region, Burgundy, Bordeaux, the Loire. However, all the info on travel to these regions seems to be skewed towards the Summer peak travel months. Has anyone ever gone wine touring in France in the winter time? What about Italy? Do places tend to shut down around the holidays?
Any insight is much appreciated! Thanks!
Never been in the winter. But my sense is that you would be better served in a warmer climate -- Tuscany?
Also, I found Bordeaux to be pretty pretentious and uninteresting. Burgundy can be fun because there are some tiny producers that you never see in the States and the people there really want you to learn their wines. You didn't mention the Rhone, but that can be a blast. And so close to Provence. I love Provence. The Rhone also has some tiny non-exported producers that can be a lot of fun to visit and taste at. Alsace can be fun. I love Colmar.
On the other hand, the Loire is close to Paris and has a bunch of castles. After about 3 castles I was all castled out. But some people really enjoy them. And I did enjoy the first 3. (After 4 I called it quits.) We didn't go wine tasting in the Loire, so I cannot say what it is actually like.
I have been to Epernay in February and it's less busy. some champagne places are open so you can still get around.
I prefer to go in the off season, and always lead my tours at off times. Over the actual Christmas to New Years, yes, everything will be shut down. and many restaurants take vacation at that time, as well. However, if you go in December before the holiday week, you should have better chances.
Be sure to make appointments at the wineries you want to visit. Your local wine merchant can set you up through distributors, who hold the key to those admissions. I haven't been to Bordeaux, but I haven't met an unfriendly winemaker in Burgundy or Rhone/Provence yet.