24 APR 2017: Organizing a visit to a wine region can be time consuming and difficult. Wine Paths, the first digital platform for wine lovers, aims to make it easy for epicurean travellers to plan a great itinerary. The online guide which lists outstanding establishments in the leading winegrowing regions of the world just launched this spring.  

Members include wineries and distilleries, prestigious restaurants, luxury hotels and local travel agencies with expert knowledge of their region. As a special bonus, world-famous “flying winemaker” Michel Rolland presents his selection of preferred wineries.

I’ve had plenty of experience setting up my own itineraries in wine regions and know it takes knowledge to select the right wineries to visit. Some offer superior tours along with wine shops, good dining and more. Others offer lovely accommodation in the vineyards or music concerts and other entertainment. The trick is to pick a selection of different but great winery experiences and it goes without saying, in places with excellent wine.

Wine Paths provides a solution to this through an exacting curated selection of members which offer superb quality standards and wine and dine expertise. Visitors to the website can organize their trips according to two approaches: by contacting the members directly or by working through one of the suggested local travel experts who can design a bespoke trip according to their desires.

It’s still a work in progress. “It is slowly growing every week. I am also going to Argentina early May and I can already tell you that we will have a great offer in this new country. Also, we are experiencing some interesting situations such as a very famous winery in New Zealand asking us when we are opening in that country as they want to join. So, I think we will have the snowball effect,” said Stéphane Tillement, president and founder of Wine Paths.

“But more important if you want to understand my vision of Wine Paths in the next twelve months is to have in all the wine regions an offer close to the one of Bordeaux where we are full now,” he added.

At present, Wine Paths features a selection of 130 members in France, Spain, Portugal and South Africa. In the coming months, they will launch Argentina and Chile (April), Italy, New Zealand and Australia (May), and USA (California) and Scotland (June) with the objective to showcase 200 members by the end of 2017.

The Bordeaux members are an impressive group that includes Château Mouton Rothschild, Château Smith Haut Lafitte, Château Phélan Ségur, Château Pape Clément and Château Beychevelle for example. Luxury hotel members in the region include Les Sources de Caudalie and Château Cordeillan Bages while among the restaurants are Le Saint James (one star Michelin) and La Grand’Vigne (two star Michelin). Any trip planned around these places would be marvelous.

In other regions such as Catalunya, in North-East Spain, the site still needs more members but in the meantime their local travel expert Jordi offers tour suggestions that intrigue. These include: Create your own Brandy, Opera and Wine, Bike Tours in Penedès and a Mediterranean Tapas Workshop.

“We are not going to do like all these mass market websites with prices and long programs. Our local experts - local travel agencies that know perfectly their wine region - propose suggestions or teasers to give ideas to the customers. Then the customer will liaise with the local agency to elaborate a program “a la carte” using some of these suggestions,” said Tillement.

Tillement who belongs to Virtuoso and owns Mauriac Voyages, one of the top five French agencies in luxury tourism, has thirty years of experience in premium tourism. Other members of his team and board are equally experienced. This is a website to watch and one that I will happily use to help set up my wine travels.

Now perhaps we should nudge them to add Canada to the wine regions they cover. They’d be pleasantly surprised by what we can offer the epicurean. www.winepaths.com

 

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Margaret Swaine

Margaret is a nationally published wine, spirits, food and travel writer, who has authored thousands of articles on these subjects for magazines and newspapers.

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