Ultimate Guide to Wine Country Vacations

Types of Wine Country Vacations

Do a little homework before planning your wine country vacation. Do you wish to travel halfway across the globe and seek out the most historic and renowned French wineries, or is your heart set on visiting the high-tech, commercialized vineyards of California? Decide what area of the world you'd like to visit, then do some research to find out which wineries you'll tour over the course of your stay.

There's nothing wrong with visiting the Bordeaux region of France or California's Napa Valley (they remain two of the most popular wine-related destinations in the world, after all), but many tourists find that boutique wineries -- small establishments that sell specialized, high-quality products -- are just as interesting as the largest wineries in these vino hotspots. Boutique wineries can usually be found in famous wine-producing areas (Bordeaux and Napa included) but they also appear in locations and in countries all over the world, from Chili to China, so you should be able to find a few, regardless where you're going. Like seeing your favorite band play at a local bar instead of at a sold-out stadium, boutique wineries offer a more intimate setting and specialized experience than what's available at the larger, more commercialized venues. However, it may take a little time to find these hidden gems, so search the Web for boutique wineries in the area you plan to visit and call ahead to find out if they offer private tours.

Once you've planed your schedule, consider how you want to lodge -- or how you want to rough it -- during your stay in wine country. Depending on the popularity of your destination, you can expect to sleep in anything from a hostel to a world-class luxury hotel, complete with a day spa and several gourmet restaurants. If you'd rather pitch a tent in the great outdoors, you'll be pleased to know that campsites are often not too far away from vineyards, especially in the United States, and most American sites allow both tents and RVs. Whether you plan to live it up in luxury on the other side of the planet or sleep under the stars a few miles from home, always place your reservation at least three months in advance, as the more popular wine-touring destinations tend to book up quickly.