If there’s anything as satisfying as a good vacation moment, it’s a good drink to go along with it. The wine and spirit industry is a billion dollar machine, well oiled by our desires for cocktails and bubbly. And if you’re a fan of a particular liquor (or all of them, no judgement), consider making your next getaway one where your drink of choice thrives in abundance.
FOR CHAMPAGNE LOVERS: CHAMPAGNE, FRANCE
Looking to delve a little deeper into bubbly? The Champagne region of France provides a plethora of ways to discover and sample the sparkling wine that enamors the world with its prestige. The gateway to Champagne is the city of Reims, just 45 minutes from central Paris or 30 minutes from Paris Airport by TGV (high speed train).
There are 319 champagne-making villages (called “crus”) of which 17 traditionally rank as “Grand Cru,” producing the best quality grapes, and 42 as “Premier Cru.” In the villages are more than 5,000 family producers making boutique champagnes from their own grapes. Many of the champagne producers open their doors to visitors and offer a personalized tour of their cellars and/or winery with champagne tastings; however in most cases it is essential to make an appointment. Some of the best champagne houses in the region include Billecart Salmon and Nicolas Feuillatte. For more info, visit: https://www.visitlachampagne.travel/
FOR RUM LOVERS: BARBADOS
The labor of African slaves gave birth to the profitable sugar industry in Barbados. Molasses, which is a byproduct of sugar cane, was used to create rum, making Barbados the birthplace of the spirit. Mount Gay began bottling their first rum in 1703. If you’re visiting Barbados, you can discover the historic tradition behind world-class Bajan rums with tours at Mount Gay Rum Distillery, St. Nicholas Abbey and Foursquare Rum Factory. Barbados is also home to an estimated 1,500 rum shops—hubs of Bajan social life found at every corner of the island. An iconic Bajan pastime is playing dominoes at these rum shops. You can sit in one and talk to locals for hours.
FOR TEQUILA LOVERS: TEQUILA, MEXICO
Did you know that tequila comes from a town called… you guessed it… Tequila? A long stretch of greenish blue agave fields welcomes thousands of visitors to imbibe each year.The Magical Town of Tequila is an easy 45-minute drive from Guadalajara, Jalisco in west central Mexico. When travelers visit Tequila, they can sight-see at the town’s 18th century church, visit the National Museum of Tequila, try agave-infused dishes and drinks such as cheesecake and beer, and indulge in a tequila tasting at one of nearly 200 distilleries in the region.
Visitors can participate in intimate tours with companies like The Agave Experience where they will partake in tastings from two different distilleries, walk through the agave fields, learn about the tequila-making process, and sample different varieties of the spirit. Small group tours start at US$100 and private tours at US$170. Travelers can also opt to visit a few distilleries using quirkier transportation like the Jose Cuervo Express train, Herradura Express train, or the Sauza Tequilacopter experience. A number of hotels and tour companies also offer horseback riding in agave fields, an educational lesson on agave harvesting from jimadors, hot air balloon rides, and bike tours.
FOR WINE LOVERS: SONOMA, CALIFORNIA
Just a two-hour drive from San Francisco sits two of the world’s best wine valleys. Napa and Sonoma are only about a 30-minute drive from each other and well worth a visit. Even if you don’t like wine, the food and beautiful scenery will leave you satisfied.
In Sonoma, Aperture Cellars’ wines will welcome guests for appointment only, world-class tasting experiences that pair the region’s top chefs and artisans with Aperture Cellars and Devil Proof Vineyards wines—all crafted by acclaimed winemaker Jesse Katz. Aperture Estate is slated to open in April 2020 but reservations are currently being accepted at firstname.lastname@example.org. For casual Mexican food that’s addictive, don’t miss El Molino Central (especially the nachos and freshly made tortillas). Across the street, check into the beautiful Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa — and don’t miss the chance to experience their spa or wine tastings in the lobby.