Quick Wine Trips for Summer's End
It seems that no matter what happens, summer is here and gone before you know it. As we’re beginning to hit the peak of August holiday, now is the time to soak up the vitamin D and hit the road for those last minute vacations. Looking for a quick vinous-filled weekend getaway? Our reviewers have you covered. Here are your quick wine weekend itineraries around the globe, perfect for summer's end.
Just a short ferry ride away from bustling Auckland, Waiheke Island is the easiest wine getaway for New Zealanders and tourists alike. The wines are varied, the views are stunning and the coastline dramatic. Above all, there’s a laid back, beach-y vibe to the island that makes it feel like summer, even when it’s not. So slather on the sunscreen, pop on your shades and head for the ferry.
In winter, the winery cellar doors limit their hours, so there’s no point in getting started too early. Plan to sleep in, then head for the island’s most famous winery, Stonyridge. Plan ahead, and reserve places for lunch at the Veranda Café, so you can dine on local oysters and grouper, or go for the lamb shank from Hawke’s Bay. The latest releases are available by the glass, and there’s usually a library wine or two. If you’re fortunate, you might luck into the 2010 (WA94) and you can order a bottle of Grand-Puy-Lacoste from the same vintage (WA95) for comparison.
Hike off some of those calories on the island’s many walking trails, or bicycle the paved roads before heading across the island by car to the cellar door at Man O War. The Spencer family owns 1,800 hectares—virtually the entire northeastern bit—of the island and have planted choice bits with several different grape varieties.
Most importantly, the wines—made by Duncan McTavish—are excellent, and the cellar door location does not suck. The old colonial building sits a stone’s throw from the beach, across an elegant lawn dotted with shade trees. On most days, the best accompaniment to the sun, grass and sand will be one of the white wines, like the off-dry Exiled Pinot Gris, but on chillier occasions, you might gravitate toward the Dreadnought Syrah or Ironclad Bordeaux-style blend while you watch the waves gently lap ashore.
Kennedy Point is on an entirely different, more intimate scale. The Syrahs are normally the stars at this tiny cellar door with views of Kennedy Bay. Add a platter of charcuterie and cheese and linger. Of the island’s 22 wineries, 20 have year-round cellar doors, so there are plenty of other places to visit. You can find a complete listing at the local association's website. —Joe Czerwinski
The nation’s capital is a popular tourist attraction. Many historic sites in Virginia are also pretty close, like Monticello and Mount Vernon. For wine lovers, consider Northern Virginia's wine country, where you can visit places like Paradise Springs, RdV and Linden as a side trip from Washington, D.C. Paradise Springs is probably closest to central D.C., a bit over an hour. The other two might take 90+ minutes—Google maps and traffic allowing—from central D.C. There are other terrific wineries in Virginia, of course. But you can't do everything in a day, and many are much further south (like Barboursville). —Mark Squires
Not far from Rome in the Campania region is Marisa Cuomo on the Amalfi Coast. The vineyards are planted between lemon groves on cascading terraces that drop straight down to beautiful coved beaches below. There’s nothing like a summer weekend on the Amalfi Coast, and my wine of choice is the Costa d'Amalfi Furore Bianco Fiorduva, a blend of 30% Fenile, 30% Ginestra and 40% Ripoli grapes. You can taste the saltiness of the beach within this luscious and supremely elegant white wine.
Also in the Campania region is the volcanic island of Ischia. I cannot think of a more beautiful summertime destination with rocky coves and golden sand beaches surrounded by azure waters. This little volcanic island off the Campania coastline is a small paradise with the same charm and natural beauty as nearby Capri minus the hordes of foreign tourists. Some beaches have underground volcanic vents that make the water bubble and keep the sand extra warm from below the surface. The leading winery is Casa d’Ambra. One of my top choices is the Ischia Tenuta Frassitelli made with the Biancolella grape. Reviews of new vintages for both estates are coming up in Issue 232. Stay tuned! —Monica Larner
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