Get into the holiday spirit

By Lucy Gillmore

Lucy Gillmore rounds up some of the best international tours based around famous tipples.
Sherry is enjoying a renaissance and last May saw the first World Sherry Day. Photo / Thinkstock
Sherry is enjoying a renaissance and last May saw the first World Sherry Day. Photo / Thinkstock

Whether its sipping a Bellini at Harry's Bar in Venice, savouring a sauce cooked with local calvados in Normandy, or learning how to make the perfect mint julep in Kentucky, enjoying your favourite tipple in its place of origin adds an extra dimension to travel. You can bed down in a French chateau surrounded by vines, explore rum factories in the Caribbean or discover how ice wine is made in Canada.

Tour operators topping up your glass include Thomson, which offers a trip to the village of San Sebastian del Oeste in Mexico, surrounded by fields of agave, to visit tequila producer, El Parral. Sunvil Discovery meanwhile, teaches you how to make limoncello on a seven-night holiday at Casa Migliaca, a Sicilian estate producing organic lemons. Intrepid's Urban Adventures has put together a three-hour excursion in Lima, shopping for the ingredients to make Peru's famous cocktail, the pisco sour, before a mixologist shows you how to create one.

An apple a day

Head to Herefordshire to follow the Cider Route, visiting a handful of artisan producers for tastings, tours and orchard ambles. In Hereford itself you can also learn about the history of cider at the Cider Museum. And Foottrails offers a self-guided three-night walking holiday through Somersets orchards, checking into country inns serving award-winning apple juices and ciders.

Down in Cornwall at Healey's Cider Farm you can see apples hand-picked and pressed during the autumn harvest, take a tractor ride through the orchards and sample cider in the farm shop before tucking into a cream tea in the caf.

Drambusters

Speyside's Malt Whisky Trail is a bucolic route through this picturesque part of Scotland, taking in a handful of distilleries such as Benromach, Dallas Dhu, Glenfiddich, Cardhu and The Glenlivet. At the latter you can also sign up for a three-day course at the Whisky School.

Roll out the barrel

Sherry is enjoying a renaissance and last May saw the first World Sherry Day. Annie B's Spanish Kitchen in the picture-postcard pretty Andalucian white town of Vejer de la Frontera, on the edge of the Sherry Triangle, has put together a Cooking, Sherry and Shopping short break, including tutored tastings and visits to sherry bodegas in Jerez and El Puerto de Santa Mara, including four nights at Casa Amaro, three cooking classes, most meals and two tapas tours.

Port of call

In Portugal's Douro Valley you can still see locals treading the grapes the old-fashioned way. Inntravel offers a week-long self-guided walking holiday, Valley of Gold, that takes hikers along the original wine route following the river to the sea, stopping at traditional quintas (port wineries). The trip includes seven nights at B&B, three dinners, three picnic lunches and luggage transfers.

Hop to it

Ramblers Worldwide has a new trip, Ale and Amble in the Lake District where you visit atmospheric old inns such as The Bridge and The Fish in Buttermere during your hike. Meanwhile, in New York, explore the city's craft beer renaissance on a Brewed in Brooklyn walking tour or Fermented NY Craft Beer Tour with Urban Oyster.

That's the spirit!

Da Mhile Distillery is an organic, farmhouse distillery founded last autumn at Glynhynod Farm in Ceredigion, Wales. Its speciality? Seaweed gin made from organic grains and local laver from the Ceredigion coast. You can tour the distillery by appointment or book a tasting course.

At Adnams Distillery in Suffolk, meanwhile, you can make your own gin using miniature copper stills. Creating a unique blend of botanicals you get to name, label and bottle your own recipe.

Bombay Sapphire's new gin distillery and visitor centre will soon open in Hampshire. Housed in the converted Laverstoke Mill, it will have a glasshouse designed by Thomas Heatherwick to house its signature 10 botanicals.

Wine routes

Exodus has a new eight-day Rioja: Cycling and Wine trip, which freewheels past hilltop towns and vineyards in this picturesque part of Spain.

Or explore South Africa's winelands on horseback with TripAfrica. There are long days in the saddle on this nine-day, 190km ride, but plenty of time for tastings along the way.

The Napa Valley Wine Train chugs along 25km of track through California's famous wine region. This restored train has been turned into a restaurant serving gourmet food and fine wines.

Headwater offers a complimentary Wine Service for those on its self-guided Alsace Wine Trail walking holiday, picking up heavy bottles bought at vineyards and dropping them at the final hotel.

- INDEPENDENT

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