A Fine Bounty: Autumn Wine Trips in Europe

Autumn is a magical time to explore Europe. The summer crowds have mostly dispersed, hotel prices drop, and the landscape is a stunning mosaic of yellows, oranges and reds, enhanced by the low sun and early morning mist.

Best of all, autumn offers a bounty for travelling gourmands. It’s the perfect time for oenophiles to experience the harvesting of wine grapes, menus bulge with delicious autumn cuisine, and there are many traditional food festivals to discover.

If you fancy eating and drinking your way around Europe this autumn, here’s some inspiration to whet your appetite.

Porto & the Douro Valley

The Douro Valley is enchanting year round. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the oldest demarcated wine region in the world – and one of the most beautiful. Steep, terraced vineyards line the banks of the serene Douro River, as it winds it way to Porto and the river mouth.

A wine tour of Porto and the Douro Valley is special at any time of the year, but it offers a particular charm during autumn. A cooling breeze replaces the suffocating heat of summer, the dramatic landscape is at its most picturesque, and the valley becomes a hive of activity during harvest.

Spend some time exploring the beautiful city of Porto, sampling port wines from the city’s famous cellars, then head to the Douro Valley to learn about the history and techniques behind this world-famous wine. You could even participate in the traditional grape-treading process on a Porto Harvest Experience.

Truffle Hunting in Piedmont

In a country bursting with gastronomic delights, Piedmont still stands out. Nestled at the foot of the Alps in northwest Italy, the region is famous for red wines including Barolo and Barbaresco, and for the slow food movement that originated here. 

Autumn is the perfect time to explore. The landscape has a special glow from the autumnal hues carpeting the hills, but underground is where the real magic happens. October is the start of white truffle season – prized for their favour and aroma, they’re known as Italy’s white gold!

Combining an autumn wine trip to Piedmont with white truffle hunting is heaven for foodies. Head into the picturesque countryside with a truffle hunter and their dog, before tasting the fruits of your excursion. Visit Alba’s renowned weekend white truffle fair and market. Explore the vineyards during harvest and, of course, sample the bounty of white truffle delights on menus across the region, washed down with a nice Barolo.

The Sauternes Harvest in Bordeaux

From the white gold of Italy to the liquid gold of France, our final autumn wine trip recommendation is a trip to Bordeaux during the sauternes harvest.

The unofficial wine capital of the world, Bordeaux is renowned for its red wines. But it’s the sweeter side of Bordeaux that takes the prize for the world’s most expensive wine. Sauternes is a full-bodied, sweet, late harvest, white wine from the wine-growing region of Graves in the southwest of Bordeaux. These white grapes – mostly Sémillon with Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle – are affected by botrytis, or noble rot, which flourishes in the unique microclimate caused by foggy mornings and warm, sunny afternoons.

Chateau D’Yquem in Sauternes – © Gerard Uferas

The botrytis-affected white grapes destined for Sauternes are the last grape variety to be harvested in Bordeaux, often lasting well into October. Touring the Sauternes vineyards – from the big famous producers like Chateau d’Yquem to charming family-run wineries like Chateau Sigalas Rabaud – tasting these exceptional honeyed dessert wines during warm autumn days bathed in golden light is a truly memorable experience.

To find out more about autumn wine trips in Europe or to book a tour, contact sales@smoothred.com or call +44 208 877 4940. All our wine tours can be tailored to suit your tastes.

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