Photo Credit: pixelshop/Shutterstock
While a wine country getaway is lovely year-round, visiting in the fall makes for an extra special trip. Not only can you explore the wineries that each region has to offer, but fiery foliage and harvest celebrations make it the perfect time to explore these destinations.
Whether you want to sip Syrah in Walla Walla or imbibe Barbera in Piedmont, these six wine country trips make for a gorgeous fall adventure.
Napa Valley, California
Fall travelers to Napa Valley will find fewer crowds and more personalized attention than those who arrive at the height of crush season, which typically takes place between August and early October. In fact, Napa’s foliage comes alive from mid-October into November, when golden grape vines are in perfect harmony with the fiery hues of maple and katsura trees. If you want a bird’s eye view of the autumn colors, a hot air balloon ride is a great way to see the region. Those interested in learning about the wine they’re drinking will find that winery employees are eager to offer more information about the harvest and bottlings. If you’re looking for a convenient place to stay during a fall trip, Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton Napa is minutes from Napa’s historical riverfront and close to downtown where you can experience world-renowned restaurants. Fuel up with a free hot breakfast before enjoying a day on the Napa Valley Wine Trail.
Fall is an excellent time to visit Spain’s Catalonia wine region, especially if you’re a foodie. Catalonia’s grape harvest, also known as verema, takes place in October, and visitors can celebrate during several festivals throughout the region. Depending on where you want to travel in Catalonia, you can enjoy a concert or vineyard visit in Bages, partake in old-fashioned grape stomping in Avinyonet del Penedès, or attend the wine harvest festival in Sitges, a lovely locale that’s close to the sea. In addition to the grape harvest, October is also prime time for chestnuts, mushroom foraging and prepping olives for pressing into oil, so food lovers can enjoy these regional delicacies during a trip. Barcelona is close to the wineries of Catalonia, making it an ideal place to stay if you want to experience the city as well as the country. Alexandra Barcelona Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton is designed with stunning 19th-century mosaic flooring and is close to some of architect Antoni Gaudi’s most famous works. Take a dip in the courtyard pool before a day of wine tasting and exploring. The hotel’s Restaurante Solomillo is a charcuterie and steakhouse specializing in different types of locally sourced meats with a rotating, seasonal selection of local wine and delicacies like morels with foie gras sauce.
The North Fork, Long Island
Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, eastern Long Island comes alive with New Yorkers looking to escape the city heat. And while The North Fork is lower key than the Hamptons to the south, summer is still a busy time for the area. But fall ushers in cooler temperatures, vibrant foliage and a perfect opportunity to explore The North Fork’s burgeoning wine scene. With more than 50 wineries that benefit from the region’s maritime climate, there is plenty for every palate to explore, whether you’re a fan of sparkling rosés or crisp whites. If you want to take in the cool fall air and surrounding scenery, visit Orient Beach State Park or embark on a relaxing hike in Soundview Dunes Park. The North Fork’s proximity to New York City means there are also plenty of restaurants helmed by talented chefs, and it’s much easier to snag a reservation when visiting in shoulder season. If you’re looking for a tranquil stay, Home2 Suites by Hilton Long Island Brookhaven offers spacious rooms and a heated indoor pool. Snag meat and veggies from a local farmers market to throw on one of the property’s outdoor grills.
Walla Walla Valley, Washington and Oregon
Laidback Walla Walla is a wonderful place to taste wine without much pretense. Although it is home to some of Washington’s most notable wineries, the region has a laidback, country vibe that many will find welcoming. Composed of six different wine districts, the region is home to 120 wineries that specialize in bold reds like Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, but white wine drinkers will find plenty to love, too. Not only is fall a beautiful time to visit, but Fall Release Weekend – taking place November 4-6 this year – is when the Walla Walla Valley truly shines. The region-wide release provides a chance for visitors to taste newly released wines and chat directly with winemakers about their harvest and process. In addition to excellent wines, you can experience special dinners, live music and other festive events at wineries across the region. Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton Walla Walla is close to the restaurants and shopping of charming downtown, and more than a dozen wineries are within four miles of the property.
With the striking Alps to the north and the green, rolling Apennines to the south, Piedmont is one of the most stunning locales in Italy – and one of the country’s most famous and renowned wine regions. Known for its rich, elegant reds like Barolo and Barbera, a visit will also open your palate to lesser-known varietals. Take for example Freisa, a native grape that grows within Turin, Piedmont’s gorgeous capital city. Summer is Italy’s high season, which means a fall visit rewards travelers with fewer crowds and mild temperatures that make it prime for exploring. Not only does the foliage give Piedmont a romantic blaze of color, but the wine event Vendemmia a Torino showcases harvest season with tastings, tours and special meals throughout the region. Turin is a great home base when visiting Piedmont because it’s close to excellent wineries, and there’s plenty to do in the city itself. The light-filled DoubleTree by Hilton Turin Lingotto was once a FIAT factory that was converted by architect Renzo Piano. The rooftop test track featured in “The Italian Job” is open to the public, and admission to the Pinacoteca Agnelli gallery is included in a stay.
Bordeaux is the largest wine region in France, and it is home to beautiful landscapes, historic chateaus and some of the best vineyards in the world. September and October bring harvest season and cooler temperatures, making fall a perfect time to visit. Depending on the type of experience you’re seeking, some chateaus offer more in-depth programming than the usual tour and tasting. Look for opportunities to sample juice at different stages of the winemaking process, participate in a blending workshop, or attend a special wine dinner that features pairings and ingredients from the region. There is plenty to do in the city of Bordeaux as well, from taking in the historic architecture, to visiting one of the many museums, to excellent dining and shopping. At Hilton Garden Inn Bordeaux City Centre, guests can enjoy views of the Garonne River and all-day dining at on-site restaurant Babette. Unwind in one of the airy guestrooms after a day of wine tasting and exploring.
When traveling to wine country this fall, you’ll likely need to get from the airport to your final destination. Hilton Honors members can earn up to 5,000 Points and save on qualifying car rentals from Alamo, Enterprise and National. And if you rent a car for five or more days now through Oct. 5, 2022, you’ll receive 1,000 Bonus Points on top of the Points you already earn.
Looking for more fall adventures? Get a true taste of fall at these foodie fests or hit the road this fall for the ultimate New England road trip.