Visit vineyards without leaving lockdown

Visit vineyards without leaving lockdown

Getting itchy to take part in some wine tourism? Peter Ranscombe picks online wine excursions to give you a vinous kick while you #stayathome.

ROAMING the globe to meet winemakers and visit their vineyards is a privilege and a blessing that I never take for granted – and no more so than during the current coronavirus pandemic.

I was lucky enough to visit Tuscany and Bordeaux in the weeks leading up to the lockdown, and it’s been an honour to share those stories over the past few weeks on my drinks blog, The Grape & The Grain.

Now that we’re all staying at home to protect the NHS and save lives, I thought it’d be a good opportunity to explore some of the online options that allow us to visit vineyards without leaving lockdown…

Katie Jones’ Instagram Live rambles
If lockdown has turned you into an early bird then log onto English winemaker Katie Jones’ Instagram page at 7.30am on weekdays to join her for a ramble through her beautiful old vineyards in the Languedoc in the South of France. Over the weekend, you can catch-up on her previous rambles on her Youtube channel too.

Take a virtual tour round Simpsons Wine Estate
She may have had to cancel the physical tours of her vineyard and winery, but Scottish winemaker Ruth Simpson and her Northern Irish husband, Charles, marked English Tourism Week last month with a tour around their estate in Kent. You can catch-up with the tour on their Youtube channel.

Return to the chateau
If Burgundy’s your bag then Chateau de Pommard is offering online tours along the famous “La Route des Grands Crus” – it’s a bit like the malt whisky trail along the A95 through Moray, but with more grapes and fewer capercaillie. The estate – which plans to reopen to physical visitors on 1 June – has already welcomed more than 1,000 guests on its online experiences and is selling cases of wine to accompany the trips, with donations going to hospitals in France to fight Covid-19.

Head ‘down under’
When we – eventually – get released from lockdown and international travel resumes, New Zealand is going to be near the top of my hit list. After watching the virtual tour of Cable Bay’s vineyards on Waiheke Island, I’m even keener. Its wines featured at a tasting held in Edinburgh last June, which feels like a long time ago now.

Read more about Peter Ranscombe’s adventures around the world at

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