fruit picking

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What’s in Season? Foraging in November

Mushrooms, Chestnuts, Sheep Sorrel and wild herbs are still available when foraging in November for those wild food lovers who don’t mind braving the elements. Winter is an undiscovered and under utilised time of year to spend in the woods. Rosehips, sloes, crab apples and of course mushrooms are still widely available in November.

By now you may have been out discovering all of the Autumn fruits but wild herbs are still plentiful and you can stock up on your winter tea herbs too.

What you could find

Rose Hips

Bright red rose hips reach out from the bushes in the months of October and November. It is like they are telling us to stock up on our Vitamin C for the winter. Make delicious rosehip syrup or rose water to clean those pores.

Chestnuts

Sweet chestnuts fall from the trees throughout this month. Be careful to avoid the common conker which can have a similar looking shell to your chestnuts. Sweet chestnuts come in packs of three when you open the nut casing.

Crab Apples

This sweet fruit is often overlooked, maybe its the name that puts people off but making crab apple jelly is a great way to use this fruit. Add some cinnamon to your jelly recipe for an extra kick or why not try a winter chutney for Christmas time. Okay maybe its a little early to start talking about Christmas but with all of these wild goods you will want to show off your wild knowledge around the Christmas dinner table.

Sheep Sorrel

This tiny green plant grows nearly year round and packs a punch when it comes to its sour flavour. It contains oxalic acid which gives it a tangy flavor but it is a great addition to salads and soups. Sheep Sorrel is a great extra leaf to add to any green dish.

Gorse Flowers

This is the flower that just keeps on giving. In Springtime and late Autumn the yellow flowers burst to life and it is hard to walk through a mountainside in Ireland without stumbling upon it. This bright yellowed flower makes a tasty coconut flavored wine. Don’t believe us? Give it a try. This is home brew not to be missed.

Hen of the Woods mushrooms

Often found at the bottom of an oak tree, Hen of the Woods is also known as Maitake mushrooms.  When you find a Hen of the Woods it is likely you will find more around the same tree. Look out for giant oak trees and you could be in luck. Clean them, roast them and enjoy the flavors of the Earth. We want to point out that there are several poisonous species of mushrooms so always try to go hunting for mushrooms with an expert.

Pine

The smell of pine trees is just an inviting as any berry during summertime. This plant is rich in vitamins and used to prevent scurvy in the 18th century. It is the perfect addition to your tea recipes in winter time Be careful not to confuse this wild treat with needles from a Yew tree.

Sloe Berries

Everyone has heard of sloe gin but have you ever tasted the berries. They are delicious. November is a great time to forage for your sloes. They make delicious jam, jelly and add an extra spark to any winter cocktail.

Herb Robert

Herb Robert (aka Geranium robertianum) is easy to miss as it is so small along the edges of the woods but once you find it you will keep stumbling upon it. All parts of this tiny herb, the flower, the leaves and the root have been used to cure ailments in the past. Make tea with the leaves, add the pretty pink flowers to your flowers. The herb contains ellagic acid and is a natural source of germanium.

Other wild edibles to keep an eye out for in the month of November include: Oyster mushrooms, Navelwort, winter chanterelles, hawthorn berries, wood sorrel and dandelions.

When and where to go foraging in November

Coastal foraging is popular in the Spring and Summer months but the woodlands is the place to be for the Autumn and winter months. This is where most of the wild plants stay dry in the winter months. Head out for a walk in the local woods. Avoid foraging in local parks as many of the plants may have been sprayed. Never pick something that you cannot identify, especially mushrooms. People are aware that their are poisonous mushrooms out there but often people don’t realise that they can grow next to the edible species and look quite similar. Always go foraging with an expert who knows the local land.

What to Bring Foraging Adventure

  • A pair of scissors, or a good pocket knife for mushroom hunting.
  • A wicker basket or a reusable container.
  • Gloves
  • Sturdy shoes or boots
  • Long sleeves and pants (trousers) to protect from nettles, thorns and poison ivy
  • A small notebook for keeping track of all of your finds.

Resources

Get our Free Foraging Tips: A 6 week guide for beginner foragers!

Don’t let the damp days put you off getting out into the wild. There are wild treasures to be found all year round.

Join us for some foraging adventures to learn about the Wild plants around you.

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Blackberry Season: Apple and Blackberry Crumble Recipe

This is the ultimate treat any time of the year. It is warm, sweet and super delicious. Try our homemade apple and blackberry crumble for the perfect taste of Autumn.

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Crumble Ingredients

  • 150g plain flour
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 70g unsalted butter

Fruit Mix

  • 300g Apples
  • 3 cups of wild blackberries
  • 30g of demerara sugar
  • 30g of butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

For the crumble:

Be prepared to get your hands dirty here. Add the flour to a large bowl. Cut the butter into small squares and add to the same bowl. Wash your hands and dry them. Now put your finger tips into the bowl and begin to crumble your mixture. The mix should look like small pieces of soft granola. If you over mix, it will become light and fluffy. You don’t want this to happen so avoid rubbing too much. You want some bigger crumble bits to go alongside the chunky apple.

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For the fruit layer:

Carefully peel and chop apples into small and big chunks. Don’t worry about perfect sizes, this recipe is supposed to be messy. Enjoy chopping up your apples into different sizes. Put your freshly picked blackberries into a small bowl and wash them gently under cool water. Add the apples to a pot and add a small small of water. Leave them to stew for 5 to 10 minutes. Now add the blackberries. They will quickly stew into a nice juice Slowly pour 1 cup of sugar over the mixture. Leave them to stew on a low heat for 10 minutes.

Now you are ready to put your crumbly dessert together. Start by pouring the Apple and blackberry mix into an oven dish. Now sprinkle your crumble over the top. Place the dish in your heated over for 20 to 25 minutes. Serve warm with a side of vanilla ice cream.

Delicious!

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Blackberry Season: Blackberry and Basil Salad Recipe

As foragers we love to discover rare plants and wild edibles all year round but the months of August and September are extra special. These are prime harvest months in Europe. Vines are weighed down with grapes and bushes are filled to the brim with ripe berries ready to be picked.

To celebrate one of our favourite times of the year when all of the blackberries start to appear on the bushes we will be telling you our top blackberry recipes each week for the next six weeks.

We will start with a blackberry and basil salad that we recently tried out for friends.

I can safely say that the mixture of sweet and fresh ingredients makes this wild salad recipe extra special.

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INGREDIENTS

Fresh wild blackberries
1/2 red Onion finely sliced
Foraged Seabeet and Lettuce Leaves
Feta Cheese
Toasted Almonds
Basil Leaves
Balsamic Vinegar

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INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pick the berries and basil leaves. This is the most important part of the preparation. There are plenty of berries around at the moment. Head to the countryside or a nearby park with your foraging basket and enjoy spending time with nature. We grow basil at home so it’s easy to pick off our leaves.
  2. Gather the other ingredients from your local store and wash all of the greens and berries.
  3. Carefully slice half an onion into thin slices
  4. Cut the almond nuts in half and toast them lightly in a hot pan.
  5. Cut the feta cheese into cubes.
  6. Mix all of the ingredients in your salad bowl
  7. Sprinkle a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar over the top.

Fresh, seasonal and super tasty this is the perfect addition to any dinner party or weekend brunch.

We have some delicious blackberry recipes to share in the coming weeks so stay tuned and look forward to hearing some feedback. If you have any top berry recipes to share please get in touch.

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Fruit Picking Calendar

For those of us who love spending time in nature, getting to know the local produce and getting back to the land then it is useful to know what fruits are ready to harvest and when the fruit harvests take place in Europe. See our fruit picking calendar below:

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With every season comes a new type of fruit to enjoy. In winter the orange trees are heavy with ripe pickings, in Spring the cherries start to brighten the trees, in summer apples are waiting to be plucked and in Autumn the berries are alive and woodlands are bursting with fresh fruit that you can taste and smell from near and far.

For more information on any of our fruit filled adventures please contact our travel team.

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Sustainable foraging tips

We all crave some sunshine and nature therapy these days. Who wouldn’t want to spend more time walking the forest paths? Foraging is all about taking time out to appreciate the land around us. This doesn’t mean trampling on natural habitats or stealing from the orchards. Picking fruit and wild plants is more than that. It brings us closer to the wildlife around us and connects us with a forgotten way of life.

Believe it or not there are some rules when it comes to foraging and wild plants aren’t something you want to be messing with if you don’t know what you are doing. Here are some simple do’s and don’ts when it comes to foraging:

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DO leave at least a third of the blossom, flowers, berries, seed heads, nuts, leaves, seashore vegetables and seaweeds on the plant and cut, don’t pull.

DON’T attempt to cook any plant you don’t know.

DO venture off the beaten track to find wild plants.

DON’T be afraid to get your hands dirty.

DON’T break branches to make gathering easier.

DON’T pick or bring home fungi that is over mature.

DON’T venture into private land without permission.

DON’T pick plants in conservation areas where there is a Department of Environment notice that states you should not do so.

DO avoid using chemical herbicides and toxic pesticides if you are re-planting.

DON’T forget to pick up litter if you see some along the way.

DO take care where you park your car. Don’t block farm gates.

DO close all farm gates after you. DO bring all your litter home.

DON’T dig up wild plants.

DO have fun in the wild and explore your surroundings.

For more information about our foraging and fruit picking adventure please contact one of our fruit loving team. If you want some foraging tips you can get your 6 Foraging tips for beginners here.

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6 reasons why fruit picking is food for the soul

How easy it is to take the natural environments around us for granted. It is even easier to take the fruit that we eat each day for granted. Bunches of bananas, bags of all kinds of apples, bunches of grapes and endless plums greet us as we shop in our local stores.

Where have these fruits come from, you don’t ask. How about we get to know the fruit we eat a little more and better yet hear from the fruit pickers who spend endless days picking these ripe treats.

Learn about the land

There is no better way to learn about the landscape of a region then getting out and feeling it (literally). Any of our fruit and foraging experiences offer the chance to get to grips with the harvest around you. Lifelong learning is no longer undervalued, it is an essential part of our growth. As long as we stay inquisitive, our mind will stay active. Let’s go and see what the land has to teach us.

Get back to nature

Nature therapy is becoming very trendy these days with forest baths, eco hide-aways and orchard experiences playing a part in re-kindling our relationship with the outdoors.

Turn off to Turn on

Another reason why fruit picking is food for the soul is it forces us to turn off from our screens and tune in to the life that surrounds us. When we stop looking down and start looking around we can observe the wildlife, the harvests and participate in the farming activities that are crucial for our survival.

Live in the moment

Fruit picking and foraging for wild foods forces us to live in the moment. Allow all of the troubles of yesterday or the worries of tomorrow subside and enjoy spending time with the fruitful landscapes around you.

Give back to the community

When you visit a place do you think about how the land around you is used by the local community? Oftentimes the agricultural activities of an area are outside of the main resort towns that we visit. By linking up with the fruit suppliers and wild food foragers of the land we can introduct you to these hidden activities.

Discover the Taste

Do you ever wonder why homegrown fruit tastes so much better? There are a number of factors at play here but mainly it is fact that the fruits are freshly picked from the trees and go straight into your mouth. In our minds there is nothing better than the bursts of flavour from freshly picked fruits.

If you are a fruit and food lover looking for inspiration for your next adventure then we are here to help.

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7 reasons to visit France for Nature

The world’s most visited country is blessed with stunning countryside landscapes, farms, fairy-tale cities and the french riviera. When visiting France your senses will come alive. From smelling the sweet vineyards of Burgundy to the pear fields of Normandy. This country is a food lovers paradise.

Renowned around the world for it’s fashion and romance, Paris is a must stop place to visit on your journey to France. The romantic capital is filled with public squares, spectacular architecture and the most delicious foods. Although the Eiffel Tower continues to be one of the most talked about visitor attractions in Europe, there is a lot more to see outside of the capital and we want to get you back to the natural landscape.

If you are looking for a flavour of France then venturing to the countryside will give you a taste of the land. Join us for unique food and orchard experiences in France. From the fruit filled vineyards of Burgundy to the luxurious champagne region to the orchards of Normandy, there is something for every nature lover in France.

Boasting a number of historically famous painters, philosophers and writers, France is a land of cultural gems. Starting in the culture packed centre of Paris you can travel to some of the charming surrounding regions.

  1. Picturesque villages

You are not going to be bored in France. You can get busy and cultural in cities like Paris, Lille, Lyon, Dijon, Marseille, just to name a few big French cities. You can reach a nice countryside, take your time, enjoy local specialities, take part in harvest…vineyards are waiting for you …Beaujolais, Cote du Rhone, and other countryside experience in Provence, Alsace….just choose the part of France you want to see first and enjoy its charm and beauty! Then I bet you will fell in love and continue to explore more of this stunning country.

2. French Cuisine

Pastry heaven with croissants and bagettes dripping from bakers windows. French food is elegant and comforting all in one. From the delicate crepes to the freshly plucked escargot, there is something sophisticated about the food culture in France. Each time you get a taste of the fresh produce and classic dishes you are creating long lasting memories. Bon appétit!’

3. Endless Vineyards

At Orchardsnearme.com we are all about the vino and the wine regions in France are first class. The deep red “vin rouge” of Burgundy to the sparkling Champagne region, there is so many flavours of wine on offer in France. In certain regions of France, you can sip on wine from grapes grown on the very land you’re stood on. Head to Bordeaux for the best red wines and the Champagne region for the iconic bubbly. Join our wine filled adventure in Burgundy.

4. The weather

It never gets too cold in the South of France – but man, does it get hot. If you want to see the spectacular blue waters of the Mediterranean or stroll along the Promenades des Anglais in Nice without getting a layer of skin burnt off, now’s the time to come. It’s warm enough to sit on a chaise longue all day and read a book; yet still chilly enough at night to wear that fabulous sweater you packed. Cole Porter might have loved Paris in the springtime, but nothing beats the South of France on a sunny day.

5. Art & Heritage

From the Mona Lisa to the Eiffel Tower we all know that France is synonymous with art and culture. There’s the famous battle sites of the Somme and the D-Day landings, as well as the stunning chateaux, churches and cathedrals that decorate the landscape. Avignon, Canal du Midi and Loire Valley are just 3 of the 39 Unesco world heritage sites that make France special.

6. Cafe Culture

Everywhere you go in France you will find charming cafes dotted along the side streets where you can grab a café au lait and let the world pass you by. If you are really living the French fantasy you may have a philosophy book or a journal with your musings with you.

7. Orchards and Country life

The idealised version of rural life in France isn’t a dream for the locals who enjoy the stunning countryside everyday. France is the ideal destination if you are looking to escape city life for a break. Cycle the fruit trail of Normandy to soak up the french lifetyle, visit some of the wonderful orchards and get a glimpse into history at the imperial war museums and d-day beaches.

From historic towns to the smell of fresh bread to miles of perfectly manicured vineyards you can’t help but fall in love with the french landscape. We are interested to hear your top tips when visiting France.

C’est magnifique!

For more information about our fruit and foraging tours in France please contact one of our travel specialists.

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4 Unforgettable Orchard Experiences

Make 2019 your year to travel with a purpose and get back to nature. With so many different orchard experiences, picking one is a hard task! Sip the sweet wines of the Douro Valley, marvel at the grape filled fields of Burgundy, take a romantic trip through the heart of Italy or sample the olive harvest in Greece.

The world is your oyster, all you need to do is take the first step.  Whatever orchard experience you choose make it one to remember. There are four amazing orchard experiences to inspire your next adventure:

JOIN THE OLIVE HARVEST IN GREECE – 6 NIGHTS

This year round sunny destination will leave you with life long memories. Spend your days picking olives, learning about the local culture and getting to grips with the harvest season. Spend your weekends on the sandy beaches diving into the turquiose waters. This incredible tour is a nature lovers dream. With whitewashed villages to stroll around and so many ancient ruins to discover, Greece is the perfect place to catch up on some well needed Vitamin D. Famous local dishes of moussaka and souvlaki will leave your mouth watering and don’t forget to try the tasty dessert of Baklava.

From the moment you arrive your host will teach you the tricks of the olive trade. You will learn how olives are harvested and turned into the most delicious oils. This farm to table orchard experience is one for the bucketlist.

More details: Olive Harvest Tours

DISCOVER THE DELIGHTS OF THE DOURO VALLEY – 2 NIGHTS

Renowned worldwide for it’s terraced vineyards, the Douro Valley is a delight for the senses. Find yourself in one of Europe’s most treasured regions. On this tour you will have the opportunity to sample the grapes, pick the grapes and learn about the unique Portuguese wines on offer.  

This is a land of fascinating wild landscapes and spectacular views from the mountain tops. This short tour packs every detail in so you get a true taste of life in the Douro. Our expert guides will take you on a delicious journey of discovery. From meeting with the olive oil producers to participating in the harvest you will have plenty to write home about after this unique orchard experience.

More details: Discover the Douro Valley

TASTE THE FAMOUS WINES OF BURGUNDY – 3 NIGHTS

If you are in the mood to taste some of Europe’s most delicious wines, you can head to Burgundy in France. This tour takes you to the heart of France’s most famous wine region. Now it is time to sit back, sip wine and watch the world go by. On this amazing orchard experience you will learn about the grapes, sample vintage wines and take some well deserved time out to enjoy the finer things in life. It is a truly stunning landscape that the locals are delighted to share with you. Ramble through rolling green countryside and get exclusive access to wine cellars of Burgundy as you discover all that this region has to offer. The Burgundy tour is truly special and not to be missed.

More details: Burgundy Truffles & Wine Tour

LUXURY TRUFFLES & WINE ADVENTURE IN ITALY – 5 NIGHTS

Famous for it’s white truffles, the region of Alba in Italy epitomizes all that Italy has to offer food and nature lovers. As you start this journey visit the church of San Giovanni Battista containing artworks from the 14th century. This unforgettable tour will enhance your taste buds every step along the way. It is no wonder that Ferrero Roche and Nutella come from this area as everywhere is bursting with sweetness. Enjoy the beautifully preserved medieval town while getting to know the local culture with our fantastic guides. You will get a hands on experience of farm life in Italy, meeting the local wine producers and learning about the different production processes. This is the land of truffles, so you are in for a real treat.

More details: Luxury Orchard Experience Italy

You can see all our orchard experiences here: Orchards Near you

Does not include: flights and insurance

For more details about these amazing Orchard Experience routes or to request a quote contact our travel specialists.

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3 Amazing adventures for Food Lovers

The days are long, the nights are lively and the locals are waiting to give you a taste of everything on offer with our taste trails in Europe. We have selected some of our top taste trails for food lovers to inspire your imagination. Each trail offers the chance to taste the freshest local produce, explore vineyards, meet the producers and enjoy the adventure of a lifetime. Get back to the land this year with these three amazing taste tours:

Stunning vineyard views on the Tuscany Taste Trail

Tuscany is world renowned for it’s natural beauty and a top destination in Europe for good reasons. This trail will take you along the most spectacular landscapes in Italy and alongside world class vineyards. Staying in charming medieval villages like San Miniato you can bask in the laid back restaurants, sampling oven baked pizzas and sipping on delcious local wines. As food lovers this is the perfect combination of adventure, food and fun. An extra treat involves a truffle hunting excursion in the hills of Tuscany. This is a truly unforgettable experience.

For more details and to book a tour go to: Tuscany Taste Trail

Go with the flow in chilled out Portugal

From the valleys in the Douro region to the harbour side UNESCO listed town of Porto, a taste trail in Northern Portugal will force you to chill out and enjoy the slower pace of life.

This tour is perfect for food lovers who enjoy a little bit of sunshine mixed in with a whole lot of culture. The town of Porto in Northern Portugal is full of foodie delights. From fresh fish to the famous Pastel de Nata dessert, you will leave this historic town with lifelong foodie memories. Enjoy strolling through the cobbled streets, tasting the local dishes and learning about the grapes in the nearby Douro Valley. 

In addition to the food, everywhere you turn on this taste trail has something unique to see or learn about. Be inspired, like J.K. Rowling was, by this enchanting town that provides a glimpse into the spirit of Portuguese people. 

For more details and to book a tour go to: Douro Valley Taste Trail

Enjoy the best of french cuisine on the Normandy Fruit Trail

France is stunning any time of the year but Spring and Summer are extra special giving visitors an opportunity to experience its full beauty and charm at a slower pace. It’s time to take to the trails!

There are many food trails in France but we’ll pick our two favourites: the never ending beauty of the landscape and the luxury of having a vineyard tour in the heart of stunning French villages. 

There are endless fruit blossom in springtime and in the summer these transform into delicious cherries in the summer months. From May onwards you will find plums, Strawberries and raspberries all along the trail. These homegrown fruits are just what you need after a day on the trails, bringing colour and a welcome boost of energy. Enjoy chatting with the producers, tasting the fruits and getting a true taste of the french countryside.

For more details and to book a tour go to: Following the Normandy Fruit Trail

For more information about more beautiful taste trails in Europe or to book your next tour please contact one of our travel specialists.

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PICK YOUR OWN WEDDING WINE IDEAS

Have you recently gotten engaged? Well this is a time for celebration and what better way to celebrate your upcoming happily ever after than a trip to some European vineyards to sample the top wedding wines on offer. You don’t have to wait for your honeymoon for your next getaway and planning your wedding should be fun, exciting and a learning curve.wine-tasting-pick-your-own-wedding-wine-orchards-near-me-tour

From one bride to another, believe me the last few weeks do get a little stressful so the more you enjoy the initial engagement highs the better. A pre-wedding getaway can be just what you and your partner need before you go through with the biggest commitment. It was a friend that suggested these itineraries as she wanted to embark on a wine filled adventure herself. Now we can’t get enough of them.

We have come up with our top tours for picking out your wedding wine. Each itinerary will give you the chance to sip on the local wines, meet the producers and even learn about the production process. What a lovely way to incorporate a personal experience into your wedding drinks.  

Here are the top ‘Pick your own’ wedding wine tours:

BURGUNDY WEDDING WINE ADVENTUREwedding-wine-ideas-france-adventure-orchards-near-me

Bring a touch of class to your wedding menu with luxurious wines from the famous region of Burgundy. If you are considering a burgundy wine than why not plan a tasting experience to learn about the region, meet the producers and see the wines on offer. Home to some of the worlds renowned wines like Domaine Denis Mortet, Domaine Armand Rousseau and Chateaux des Quarts.

Our two day Burgundy wine experience will give you a true taste of the land.

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ROMANTIC DOURO VALLEY VINEYARD EXPERIENCE

This UNESCO listed region of Northern Portugal is one of Europe’s most stunning and fruitful areas. The mild atlantic climate and terraced vineyards make this wine destination extra special. Start your romantic adventure in the lively town of Porto. The next morning you will be picked up by expert guides who will bring you to the heart of the valley to taste the local wines. In the busy wedding planning phase there is always time to stop for a picnic and a glass of vinho.

This two day tour is the perfect combination of food and wine.

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WINES OF TUSCANY WEDDING WINE TOUR

Are you an adventure lover? If you and your fiancé are outdoor enthusiasts than how about a cycle through the heart of romantic Tuscany. You will cycle through some of the most stunning landscapes, passing vineyards and orchards as you pedal. Enjoy staying in the medieval mountain-top villages, tasting the delicious local Italian cuisine and getting the opportunity to sample the best local wines that you can choose for your wedding package.

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LUXURY WINES OF ITALY TOURwedding-wine-engagement-celebration-in-europe

This is a trip to Italy’s premier food and wine region of Alba. Famous for it’s rare white truffles and delicious red wines this tour will bring a bit of luxury to your wedding menu. As home of the Ferrero Rocher and nutella you can incorporate delicious local Italian chocolates and wine into your big day. With our experts guides you will discover all that is on offer over the course of a 4 day trip, staying in the most unique accommodation and farmstays.

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How to choose my wedding wine? Here are a few tips to look out for…

  • Wine professional and good vineyards will provide bulk wine packages for weddings that are good quality and not overly expensive (depending on what you are looking for)
  • Think food rather than season – whites with fish, bold reds with beef
  • Food pairings matter
  • How much will you need?
  • Don’t forget reception drinks

Where will you get your wedding wine? This is the fun part. Let’s go explore and enjoy every moment of this magical time together.

For more information on any of our wedding wine ideas and tours please contact one of our travel specialists.

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