Questions and answers
When is it a good time to visit wine regions?
In spring the vines are coming alive again (April/May in the northern hemisphere). In July/August the vines look lush, the grapes will start to ripen, making it a great time to visit. However, the French and Italians are often at their holiday homes or on the beach in August so the wine regions can seem like a ghost town.
While harvest time might seem an exciting period to visit, the cellars are often too busy making the wine to receive visitors. Autumn is always a wonderful time to see the beautiful colours and catch the last warmth of the year.
Can I just turn up at a winery for a visit?
Many New World wineries are set up with tourism in mind and have a tasting room known as a 'cellar door' where you can taste and buy the producer's wines. The local tourist office or the winery's website will give you opening hours and let you know if there is a small fee to taste. If you buy a bottle, the tasting fee is often reimbursed.
In Europe, things can be a little trickier - particularly in Bordeaux. If you want to visit a particular chateau, it is best to make an appointment.