TheAltitude Report

3 Unexpected Wine Road Trips in Europe

Rent a car and head out of the city to explore these emerging wine regions near Lyon, Milan and Madrid.

As wine tourism continues to grow a serious following, Old World regions like Bordeaux have become packed with visitors. We take a look at three up-and-coming territories in Europe where you can steer clear of the crowds and still indulge your taste for the grape.

Jura, France (1 h 40 min from LYS)

Jura, France

With its central location, Lyon is the ideal starting point. Hop in your rental and drive 150 kilometres to Jura – a land of relatively undiscovered farm country, lush forests, pristine lakes and dramatic peaks. Jura winemakers are known for harvesting pinot noir and chardonnay, along with indigenous grapes such as savagnin, poulsard and trousseau. The town of Lons-le-Saunier is the region’s capital, and the area around it is home to a slew of “cult” winemakers like Jean-François Ganevat, who produces highly sought-after small-batch cuvées on eight and a half hectares of land. Next, drive 30 minutes to Poligny to visit one of the city’s fruitières (artisanal cheese shops) for a taste of the region’s delicious comté paired with vin jaune. You can turn this road trip into the ultimate wine getaway with a night at the charming homestay Les Jardins sur Glantine.

Trentino, Italy (2 h from VCE, 2 h 40 min from MXP)

Trentino, Italy

Squeezed between the mighty Dolomites and northern Italy’s rolling valleys, the Trentino region – famous for its ski resorts and challenging hikes – produces outstanding mountain wines. Start your trip from Milan or Venice and head north toward the Austrian border. There are some spectacular views as you drive alongside the glacial waters of the Adige River to the city of Trento, famous for pioneering sparkling winemaking in Italy using mostly chardonnay. Once in town, pay a visit to Cantine Ferrari, the oldest and most celebrated producer of traditional-method sparkling wines in Italy (some of their vintages are comparable to the most prestigious domains in Champagne), and follow that up with a plate of locally aged cheeses at Scrigno del Duomo. Finally, spend the night at the nearby Schwarz Adler Turmhotel in a room that overlooks the mighty mountains.


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Jerez, Spain (5 h from MAD)

Jerez, Spain

Sherry bars have been popping up around the globe in recent years. Tap into this worldwide trend with a trip to the drink’s birthplace, Jerez de la Frontera. Tackle the 600-kilometre journey from Madrid by driving through the picturesque Andalusian countryside, which boasts countless hills dotted with traditional whitewashed houses. First stop is Valdespino. With a history dating back to the 13th century, it is perhaps the oldest bodega (sherry winery) in the world. Soak up the breathtaking views of the Cadiz Coast, located 130 metres above sea level, then enjoy a guided tasting of the different types of fortified wines produced in the area, including amontillado and Pedro Ximénez. Later, indulge in tapas at El Almacén – think jamón, patatas bravas and tempura-fried eggplant with honey – and sample a glass from their extensive sherry selection. Try pairing your main with a glass of fino, one of the driest sherries, and end with a sweet oloroso with your dessert. Retreat for the night to Casa Viña de Alcántara, a small property located 15 minutes from the heart of Jerez.

Most of the producers mentioned in this article request that you make an appointment ahead of time.