When I tell people our newest division at Zephyr Adventures runs active wine tours around the world, explaining they include hiking, biking, and other activities, many respond with a joke or concern about drinking while being active. Other people ask whether they will enjoy the tour if they don’t know much about wine or whether they are fit enough to participate. In short, there seems to be a lot of concern in advance of these tours.
I must say after sipping a few wines on the tours, no one ever seems too concerned!
Seriously, our new active wine adventures have proven to be very successful and we try to combine the wine tasting and activities in such a way that we are pleasing everyone. On our recent Spain Wine Adventure, this seemed to work out perfectly.
Let me give you just one day as an example. We woke up one morning in our centuries-old town of Puente la Reina in the middle of the province of Navarra, shuttled through a long green valley in our vans, and drove to the top of a ridgeline overlooking the famous La Rioja. There, we pulled into the tiny village of Lapoblacion, with not much to see except a fabulous brick church in the central square. Lined up against the church were our 15 bicycles.
We then biked downhill from Lapoblacion 17 kilometers (about 10.5 miles) to the wine town Laguardia, where we spent an hour roaming the town on foot. From Laguardia, it was a short two-kilometer ride to the famous winery Bodegas Ysios, where we toured this architectural marvel and tasted the award winning wines. Two riders opted out at this point and got a ride straight from Ysios to the wine capital of Haro and our next hotel. The rest of us continued another eight kilometers by bike to Elciego where lunch was “on your own”, a choice of small restaurants or tapas bars.
In the afternoon, those who wished continued by bike another 32 kilometers to Haro, more than doubling the distance we had already ridden that morning. The others jumped in a van and took a tour of three more local bodegas. That evening, we all shared stories as those of us who rode reveled in the rain storm we narrowly missed and our decision to adventure down an unknown road while those who opted for wine tasting told us all about the wineries they visited, the wines they drank, and the people they met along the way.
Now, I love days like this. Two of my main philosophies in starting Zephyr Adventures were “everything is optional” and “this is your vacation so do what you want to do”. In setting up our Spain tour, we were very focused on these two guiding principles and tried everyday to insert a little culture, a little wine, a little activity, and a lot of freedom to pick and choose your personal poison.
Spain is an absolutely wonderful country and the perfect setting for such a tour. Those who like to exercise had plenty of hiking and biking. Those who were focused on wine had plenty of tasting to do and wineries to visit. Those who loved the Spanish culture could skip out on both the activities and wine, staying longer in a town to tour a castle or just sit at a cafe on the central plaza.
I think I am not alone in thinking to myself after returning home, “I could move to Spain!”
(Thank you to Devon Metz for providing the third photo.)