From the sun-drenched valleys of Tuscany to the cooler climes of Otago, VBT takes you on a tour of the very best international wine regions—by bicycle.
9 Sophisticated Cycling Tours Through the World’s Best Wine Regions
Posted on Monday, September 19th, 2022
Story by: Molly Waldstein | Travel Writer
Looking for Great Wine? VBT’s Got the Inside Scoop on the Best of the Vine
A good wine is a thing to treasure—whether sipping a light, crisp sauvignon blanc on a veranda by the water or savoring the cigar-box notes of an opulent Bordeaux over a sumptuous candlelit dinner. No matter your preference, there’s nothing quite like visiting a fine vineyard and whiling away a sunlit afternoon enjoying a taste of its many elegant vintages. From the sun-drenched valleys of Tuscany to the cooler climes of Otago, VBT takes you on a tour of the very best international wine regions—by bicycle.
Our Local Connections Bring You Boutique Vineyards
European wines are serious business. Sought after and prized the world over, top vintages cost well over $500 per bottle—and up. But do you have to pay so much to get a truly superlative vintage? According to Jeff Bossler, VBT’s Field Operations Manager for Northern Europe (and French-wine afficionado), the most enjoyable vintages are often found at boutique wineries for much less than the hefty Grand Cru price tag. “There’s much more to a superb wine than just the label,” says Jeff. “There are many small French vintners growing vines with incredible expertise and genuine care—and the wines they produce are among the best in the world. Many opulent vintages are hidden in remote châteaux in the countryside—so you have to know where to go!” To find these gems takes real insider knowledge—which is why our local European staff seeks out boutique vineyards in the best wine regions—exploring tasting rooms and oenothèques where wine lovers can find unique inspirational vintages.
King of the Grape: Cabernet Sauvignon
One of the world’s most popular varietals, cabernet sauvignon is truly the international king of the grape. Developed in the French countryside in the 17th century, early examples of cabernet sauvignon were the result of a serendipitous cross pollination between cabernet franc and sauvignon blanc. In VBT’s France: Bordeaux to La Rochelle Guided Tour, you’ll discover the finest vintages of this heavy-weight varietal in the land where it was born.
Despite its European origin, the reach of the cabernet sauvignon varietal has extended far across the globe. The expansive wine country of Chile is renowned for developing powerful, soft tannin cabernet sauvignon vintages in the Maipo Valley. In VBT’s Chile: Coastal Vistas & Vineyards Guided Tour, a two-night stay at the opulent Viña Santa Rita provides an opportunity to discover the wine and culture of this South American region. Deep in the dusky atmosphere of the estate’s vast wine cave, you’ll meet an expert sommelier who gives you a profound appreciation of local vintages—as well as a lesson on wine-blending techniques.
The Best of the European Reds
If you’re in love with the flavors of pinot noir, nothing beats a trip to the spectacular French wine region, Burgundy. On VBT’s France Bike & River Cruise: Lyon to Nice, you’ll cycle through the charming medieval villages and world-renowned vineyards of the Côtes de Beaune and the Côtes du Rhône. As your ship floats down the majestic Rhône river, its splendid chateaux and quaint riverside villages make a delightful backdrop for a tasting of superb local vintages presented by an expert French sommelier.
To celebrate the new harvest with the arrival of the Beaujolais nouveau gamay grape, nothing beats VBT’s France: Vineyards of Beaujolais Self-Guided Tour. A Mâcon native, VBT’s own Jeff Bossler developed this tour in collaboration with the VBT team—bringing you to the gentle bike paths where Jeff and his family love to cycle on weekends. Jeff’s intimate knowledge of the routes led to the discovery of delightful boutique vineyards and châteaux—for a fully-immersive Beaujolais wine and cycling experience.
The hills of Italy’s Piedmont region are ideal for cultivation of Barolo—a dark, floral varietal that is unique to this region. On VBT’s Italy: Piedmont, Langhe & the Italian Riviera Guided Tour, you’ll cycle deep into the heart of Barolo country—traversing the famous langa, or rolling hillsides, of this renowned wine region. You’ll watch the history of viniculture unfold as you explore the famous Tenuta di Fontanafredda wine cellars and discover the legacy of this show-stopping Italian varietal.
If tempranillo is your top varietal, VBT’s Spain: Basque, Navarre & Rioja Wine Regions Guided Tour is the perfect way to experience the incredible value and complexity of the aged reserve wines in this region. In a little hilltop village in Rioja, you’ll explore the 300-year-old underground wine tunnels of Laguardia—learning about their viniculture techniques and tasting many of the splendid vintages developed by this historic Spanish bodega.
Inspirational Whites from Europe to New Zealand
In the heat of summer, nothing beats a chilled glass of white wine or sparkling prosecco—something to help cool off the heat of the day and celebrate a spectacular cycling route. For example, there’s no better place for sauvignon blanc and viognier than New Zealand’s famed Otago region. On VBT’s New Zealand: The South Island Guided Tour, you’ll discover the boutique vineyards and vintages for which this region is so well-known in wine circles.
The ancient French village of Chardonnay is famous for its eponymous white varietal—renowned the world over for its delicious, buttery whites. On VBT’s France: The Burgundy Wine Region & Dijon Guided Tour, we cycle through this iconic village—spinning past the ancient vineyards where it all started. As we explore the Côtes de Beaune wine capital, you’ll experience delicate aromas of the white Chardonnay grape—as well as the superb red wines characteristic of the region.
Alsace lies on the border of France, Germany, and Switzerland, and has long been coveted by each—and with good reason. Its iconic timbered villages and rolling hills produce many of the world’s top Rieslings—encompassing the full-spectrum of dry to sweet. In VBT’s Switzerland, Germany & France: The Black Forest & the Alsace Wine Route Guided Tour, you’ll cycle La Route Des Vins, and discover a unique culture and landscape at the apex of three countries.