Dreaming of a break from the daily grind? Take full advantage of Spring’s Bank Holiday bonanza by stealing away for a long weekend to one of these wonderful wine regions. Full of fizz, fun and adventure, it will be your best Bank Holiday yet!
If a staycation is on the cards, head down to Hampshire. With rolling hills, picturesque towns and chalky soil to rival Champagne, this English region has much to offer the holidaying sparkling wine lover.
Hampshire is one of the epicentres of England’s sparkling wine boom, and several wineries are situated within an easy drive of the town of Winchester. Stop in at Hattingley Valley, whose delicious English sparklers were featured in our December Bubble Box and can still be purchased at the Bubble Shop, to get an insider’s view of how award-winning wines are made. You can arrange tours through Hattingley Valley’s website; choose between a standard tour or a tour, tasting and lunch at a local pub.
Once you’ve sampled all of the delicious bubbly Hampshire has to offer, it’s time to take in the sights. Winchester is a natural epicentre for your travels. This charming town is dominated by Winchester Cathedral, an 11th century construction that boasts one of the finest illuminated manuscripts in the UK. Literature lovers should make sure to spy Jane Austen’s grave before heading to the charming red brick house in nearby Chawton, where she lived with her mother and sister while writing Emma and revising her best-known work, Pride and Prejudice.
More in the mood for a beautiful meal? Head to The Black Rat, a Michelin-starred restaurant in a 17th century pub. With 11 bottles of sparkling wine on their 80-strong wine list and gorgeous food made with only the finest local ingredients, a leisurely dinner here is the perfect end to a lovely bank holiday.
Up for a bit of travel? Skip better-known wine regions in France and Italy and head for the lesser-known Istrian Peninsula in Croatia.
With more than 44 blue-flag beaches and picturesque medieval villages galore, this amazing enclave on the Adriatic Sea is an ideal getaway destination for beachcombers and history buffs alike. Take in the stunning views from the town of Motovun, a medieval town perched high atop a mountain. The walls here are walkable, giving you an unparalleled view of the vineyards sloping to the mountains. Stay the night to see an unbeatable sunrise over the vines.
If the sea is calling you, the charming fishing village of Vrser should be just the ticket. Indulge in fresh, seasonal seafood in this town where infamous seducer Cassanova is said to have visited during his lifetime.
Working up a thirst? The prestige of Istrian sparkling wines are on the up in a serious way, and now is a fabulous time to sample some of this region’s offerings.
Best known for Malvasia wines – a full, rounded variety of white wine dominated by plum, apricot and apple flavours – in recent years, industrious Istrian winemakers have cracked the code for producing top-quality bubbles in this beautiful region. To try a selection of the local sparkling wines, head to the Park Plaza Histria in the regional capital of Pula. This lux hotel boasts a designated Champagne Bar, which sells local bubbles alongside better-known French Champagne brands by the glass and bottle.
California Wine Country, USA
If you’re taking a few days of leave either side of the bank holiday weekend and want to make the most of it, a long-haul trip to Californian wine country is a fizz-lover’s dream come true.
Comprised of neighbouring Napa and Sonoma Valleys, California’s winemaking country is an easy drive from San Francisco. And, with so many amazing styles of wine being produced here, you’ll never run out of spectacular sparklers and still wines to try. But which valley should you visit? It depends entirely on what kind of trip you’re looking for!
Napa Valley sells itself as an elegant holiday destination for the well-heeled. Rent a limousine and tool around from vineyard to vineyard, trying beautiful bubbles as you go. Once you’ve tasted your fill, unwind at one of the regions five-star spas or stop by for dinner at one of many Michelin-starred restaurants in Napa – including Thomas Kellar’s most famous outing, The French Laundry.
Nearby Sonoma, it’s said, is a little bit more ‘country’. Make the charming town the base of your operations and rent a bike; you can pedal between small family wineries and bigger names along dirt paths that will bring you right back to childhood summers. It’s the other side of California living – and no less glorious than the gleaming alternative in the next valley over.