At SmoothRed we pride ourselves on tailor-making trips to suit our guests’ desires. But we’re full of inspiring ideas, too. Here’s our pick of the wine festivals of 2017, from the quirky to the more formal, with some suggestions about how you can join in the fun and taste local wines with our excellent personal contacts.
Quaff wine on the run in Bordeaux
Le Marathon du Médoc, France
You’ve got to be fit and have a stomach of steel for the world’s booziest race. The 26.2-mile run around the vineyards of Bordeaux features 23 stops where oysters or steak can be washed down with a few fine wines. Just the thing to get your second wind.
A three-night trip, Le Marathon du Médoc Experience, departing 8 September, costs £1,294 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights to Bordeaux, B&B in a luxury chateau in the Pessac vineyards with access to spa and pool, marathon registration, half-day private chauffeured wine tour and tastings in Saint-Émilion vineyards, including lunch, and a tour and tasting at a prestigious estate in Pessac.
Have a riotous time in Rioja
La Batalla del Vino, Spain
28-30 June 2017
Thousands join in this annual wine fight, drenching each other in Rioja in a free-for-all that takes place on a hill just outside the town of Haro. For those with any energy left, there’s partying in the streets to follow.
A three-night trip, La Batalla del Vino Experience, departing 27 June, costs from £994 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights to Bilbao, B&B at a three-star boutique hotel in Logroño, car hire, one full-day chauffeured wine tour with tastings at three family run wineries, local tapas lunch paired with wines – and free time to join in the wine fight.
Bring in the grape harvest – in Paris
Fête des Vendanges de Montmartre, France
11-15 October 2017
The heart of urban Paris, in the shadow of Sacré-Coeur, may seem an unusual place to celebrate the grape harvest. Yet this festival in the 18th arrondissement, the only district of the French capital with working wineries, has been marking the annual ritual since 1934. As you might expect, the whole event maintains an urbane air, with poetry readings another main attraction of the programme.
A two-night trip, Fête des Vendanges de Montmartre Wine Experience, departing 13 October, costs from £669 per person, based on two sharing, including return Eurostar tickets, private transfers, B&B in a boutique three-star hotel in the city centre, a wine and cheese tasting-and-pairing lunch in a 17th-century cellar – and time to visit the festival.
Explore the cellars of Alsace
Alsace Wine Growers Festival, Eguisheim, France
26-27 August 2017
Head to the heart of the Alsace to try the best of the local vines as the wine cellars throw open their doors to visitors for the annual Alsace Wine Growers Festival. Traditional dancing and entertainment, art exhibitions and children’s games add to the fun.
A three-night trip, Alsace Wine Growers Festival, departing 25 August, costs from £829 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights to Basel, B&B at a four-star hotel in Colmar, tickets to the festival, a visit and tasting at a local domain and a small-group full-day tour of four different wineries.
Pop a cork in Champagne
La Champenoise, Reims, France
9-10 June 2017
Bubbles, bubbles and more bubbles are served up at La Champenoise. For a wine synonymous with celebrations, it’s curious to note that this new festival, which launched in 2016, is the first major event fêting the world’s favourite sparkling wine.
A two-night trip, La Champenoise Festival, departing 9 June, costs from £594 per person, based on two sharing, including return Eurostar/TGV to Reims, B&B at a three-star hotel in the city, a half-day tour of two wine estates and tasting at a famous Champagne house, plus access to the festival on Saturday evening.
Raise a glass to the wines of Hungary
Budapest Wine Festival, Hungary
7-10 September 2017
The terraces of Buda Castle provide a splendid setting for this celebration of Hungary’s wines. With more than 200 wineries expected to showcase the fruits of their vines, it’s a great chance to explore the country’s emerging wine scene.
A three-night trip, Budapest Wine Festival, departing 7 September, costs from £1,594 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights to Budapest, private airport transfers, B&B at a luxury five-star spa hotel in the city, a chauffeur-driven tour to wine estates, an afternoon wine-and-cheese reception with musical entertainment, four-day pass to the festival, and complimentary crystal tasting glass and bag.