Autumn is the time for wine harvesting in Europe and the Camino de Santiago and the Via Francigena trails take walkers through some of the most important wine producing regions in France, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Switzerland.
September and October are ideal months to visit these beautiful wine producing regions to experience the tradition and culture of the harvest season.
Here are nine top routes for wine lovers.
1. Across La Rioja on the French Way
As the most prestigious wine making region in Spain, La Rioja is the most obvious choice for wine lovers. Located on the famous French Way its capital, Logroño, is home to a fantastic harvest festival at the end of September called the Fiesta de la Vendimia.
2. El Bierzo on the French Way
Home to delicious Mencía red wines, El Bierzo is another fantastic destination for wine lovers on the French Way. Aside from its wine, the area also has a fascinating history. The Templars built a castle in the area’s capital, Ponferrada, to protect pilgrims who were walking the Camino de Santiago. You can still explore ‘Castillo de los Templarios’ today.
3. Porto on the Portuguese Way
As the home of Port wine and the capital of the famous Douro region, which is known for producing high quality wines, Porto is a wine enthusiasts’ paradise. It is also a UNESCO world heritage listed city which makes it an ideal destination for experiencing wonderful Portuguese culture and architecture.
4. Albariño in the Rias Baixas – PortugueseWay
The Rías Baixas area is on both the Portuguese Way and the Portuguese Coastal Way and is home to fruity Albariño white wines. The Portuguese version of this wine, Albarinho or Vinho Verde, is also produced south of the River Minho in northern Portugal. The best time to visit this region is from mid-September as that is when the harvest takes place during which, there is a fantastic harvest festival in the town of O Rosal.
5. Bordeaux on the Camino from Paris and Tours
Bordeaux is undoubtedly one of the most very well-known names on this list and is the largest wine growing region in France. Although the area celebrates its wine festival ahead of the harvest season in June, autumn is still a fantastic time to visit as walkers are able to witness the harvest and attend ‘open house’ events in the region’s wineries.
6. Champagne on the Via Francigena
With the area home to one world’s most famous drinks, Champagne in northern France is a fantastic destination to visit during harvest time. The region is located on the path of the Via Francigena, the Camino to Rome, and hosts a ‘cochelet’ festival at the end of harvest time. Massif de Saint Thierry, north of Reims, also hosts a traditional harvest festival at the end of October which is well worth a visit.
7. Burgundy and Beaujolais on the Cluny Way
This route is one of the most traditional Camino de Santiago routes in France. The path crosses through world-famous wine producing regions including Burgundy, an area renowned for its red wine made from pinot noir grapes. Another delicious local wine to the area is Beaujolais which is a definite ‘must-try’.
8. Chianti in Tuscany and Val d’Orcia
Chianti on the Via Francigena is one of the best and most well-known Italian wine-producing regions, with a number of delicious variations coming from the area. Val d’Orcia is another fantastic place to experience on the Via Francigena which has also been named also a UNESCO World Heritage site thanks to its beautiful landscape and charming villages.
9. The terraced vineyards of Lake Geneva on the Via Francigena
This section of the Via Francigena takes walkers along the scenic Lake Geneva. Following this, they will be able to admire the terraced vineyards of Lavaux, a UNESCO listed heritage site, and experience the beauty of the lakeside towns of Vevey and Montreaux. Those who walk this route at the end of September will also be able to experience a fantastic three-day wine festival in the town of Lutry where they can visit wine vaults and cellars.
These walks are from CaminoWays.com, a walking and cycling holiday specialist with an in-depth knowledge on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. They also organise walking holidays on the Via Francigena (from Canterbury to Rome) and St Francis Way (from Florence to Rome), as well as other walking trails in Europe and beyond.
Prices starting from:
€480pps for 6-nights on section 2 of the French Way from Pamplona to Logroño in high season (September-October). €679pps for 6-nights on the Via Francigena walking from San Miniato to Siena. There is currently an offer if you book two months in advance to get 5% off.
Includes: half-board accommodation as standard, luggage transfer from hotel to hotel, holiday pack with walking notes and practical information. Does not include: Flights, insurance, airport transfers.