Great wine tour ideas for September and October holidays

Get your fix of truffles and Barolo in Piedmont, celebrate harvest in Rioja, relax on Santorini or soak up the vineyard colours in Sonoma; make the most of autumn 2019 in the northern hemisphere.

Médoc Marathon | Harvest in Bordeaux

You’ll have to move quickly seeing as this year’s ice cream, steak and Cabernet-fuelled race takes place on 7 September.

If you can’t jump on a late flight, then there is also a harvest festival taking place in central Bordeaux on the weekend of 14 September. Organisers claim to have 100 restaurants involved, plenty of wines to taste and are also offering the chance to learn about vineyard work.

It’s also a great excuse to see how Bordeaux is changing. Châteaux are making more efforts to attract tourists with restaurants and accommodation, while the Cité du Vin wine ‘theme park’ is now a central feature of the downtown Bordeaux skyline.


See our guide to a weekend in Bordeaux – by local expert Jane Anson


Alba Truffle Fair, Piedmont

Fly to Turin, Milan or Genoa and meander to the heart of Barolo wine country, where you can mix in sights of the UNESCO-listed vineyards with Alba’s famous truffle festival. That doesn’t sound too bad, does it?

Starting on 5 October and running until 24 November, the famous Alba Truffle Fair in the gastronomic heart of Italy is something every wine and food lover should see once in their lives.

Wander through the white truffle market, learn how to cook pasta properly, book a Piedmont winery tour or simply attend a wine tasting dinner and let someone else do the hard graft.

If you wanted to arrive early, there is also a wine festival in the Alba old town scheduled for Sunday 29 September.


Pintxos in San Sebastián | Wine harvest in Rioja

Hopping between Pintxos bars in the narrow streets of San Sebastián’s old town was last year named as the world’s number one ‘food experience’ by Lonely Planet.

We’d argue that things get even better with a glass of local Txakoli wine, often dramatically poured from a great height by San Seb’s skilled bar staff. You’ll also find plenty of Rioja with a few years of bottle age in the city’s restaurants.

The weather here can be warm right through October, providing opportunities for sunbathing on the beach.

If you’ve got time, why not also head south to Rioja to take in the 2019 wine harvest at the same time? Rioja’s wine harvest festival runs from 20 to 27 September this year, in Logroño.


Our insider guide to top restaurants in San Sebastián


Autumn colours and tasting in Sonoma wine country, California

Vines should be turning from green to dusty orange, gold and red, and there is the annual Sonoma County Harvest Fair on 4 and 5 October in Santa Rosa.

Sonoma County covers a big area, of course. But even so, there’s a lot going on in the vineyards of this region, which likes to portray a more understated character than its Napa Valley neighbour.

You can naturally find top Pinot Noir, plus fresher takes on Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Syrah, but you can also taste fascinating small-batch wines from lesser-publicised varieties in the area, such as the Vermentino by made by Ryme Cellars.

Healdsburg is a good place to stay and you can see our guide to Healdsburg wineries here.


Tour Champagne country 

Looking to stock up before Thanksgiving, Christmas or, dare we suggest, Brexit?

It’s fair to say that Champagne hasn’t always been the most open destination for tourists, but things are changing.

UNESCO heritage status for the region’s vineyards and miles of underground cellars has brought fresh impetus and recent openings include the lavish Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa, which has fabulous panoramic views across the vineyards – at a luxury price, naturally.

Plus, you’re only an hour-or-so away from Paris.

See our recently published guide to restaurants and hotels in Champagne’s Côtes des Blancs.

Decanter writer Tyson Stelzer also has some tips for getting through the gates of some of the best Champagne houses, too.


Greek island getaway on Santorini

Famous for its stacked white houses looking out over crystal-blue waters, Santorini is also the home to some of Greece’s best wines.

Its signature white wines made from Assyrtiko have been getting a name for themselves in bars and wine shops in recent years, so why not go and see the vineyards for yourself?

It can get pretty windy on Greek islands – one reason why winemakers train vines into low-lying basket shapes – but it should still be reasonably warm at this time of year and less crowded, too.

See our guide on five of the best Santorini wineries to visit, published in May this year.


Raw Wine, New York

Natural, organic and biodynamic winemakers will converge in New York on 27 and 28 October for the latest Raw Wine fair.

If you’re new to world of self-styled natural wine – albeit with its loosely defined borders – then this could be a good chance to try some whilst also making extra time to visit Manhattan, Brooklyn and the rest.

If you have days to play with, a trip north to the Finger Lakes should provide an autumnal feast for the eyes, not to mention some interesting Riesling.


We’d also strongly advocate a trip to London or Shanghai in November to see some of the world’s best producers at the Decanter Fine Wine Encounter.


See all of our latest travel guides for wine lovers here