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News & Advice

Get into the holiday spirit

From craft beers in New York to tequila in Mexico or seaweed gin in Wales, Lucy Gillmore suggests some breaks that will wet your whistle

What's the attraction?

Whether it's sipping a Bellini at Harry's Bar in Venice, savouring a sauce cooked with local calvados in Normandy, or learning how to make the perfect mint julep in Kentucky, enjoying your favourite tipple in its place of origin adds an extra dimension to travel.

Tour operators topping up your glass include Thomson (0871 230 2555; thomson.co.uk) which offers a trip to San Sebastian del Oeste in Mexico, surrounded by agave fields, to visit tequila producer El Parral (£55.50 per adult and £37.50 per child; thomsonexcursions.co.uk). Sunvil Discovery (020 87584722; sunvil.co.uk) teaches you how to make limoncello on a seven-night holiday at Casa Migliaca in Sicily, for £842pp including B&B, Gatwick flights and car hire. Intrepid's Urban Adventures (00 51 994 688 552; urbanadventures.com) has put together a three-hour excursion in Lima, shopping for the ingredients to make Peru's famous pisco sour; £16pp.

An apple a day

Head to Herefordshire to follow the Cider Route (ciderroute.co.uk), visiting a handful of artisan producers for tastings and orchard ambles. In Hereford itself you can also learn about the history of cider at the Cider Museum (01432 354207; cidermuseum.co.uk). And Foottrails (01747 820626; foottrails.co.uk) offers a self-guided three-night walking holiday checking into inns serving award-winning ciders; from £285pp including B&B.

Down in Cornwall at Healey's Cider Farm (01872 573356; thecornishcyderfarm.co.uk) you can see apples hand-picked and pressed during the harvest before tucking into a cream tea in the café. Tours from £11.50.


Speyside's Malt Whisky Trail (maltwhiskytrail.com) is a bucolic route through this picturesque part of Scotland, taking in a handful of distilleries such as Benromach, Dallas Dhu, Glenfiddich, Cardhu and The Glenlivet (01340 821720; theglenlivet.com). At the latter you can also sign up for a three-day course at the Whisky School: £700pp, full board. The next course is 28-30 April 2014.

Roll out the barrel

Sherry is enjoying a renaissance and this May saw the first World Sherry Day. Annie B's Spanish Kitchen (00 34 620 560 649; anniebspain.com) in the postcard-pretty Andalusian white town of Vejer de la Frontera, on the edge of the "Sherry Triangle", has put together a "Cooking, Sherry and Shopping" short break, including tutored tastings and visits to sherry bodegas in Jerez and El Puerto de Santa María. From €985pp, including four nights at Casa Amaro, three cooking classes, most meals and two tapas tours. Flights and transfers extra.

Port of call

In Portugal's Douro Valley you can still see locals treading the grapes the old-fashioned way. Inntravel (01653 617002; inntravel.co.uk) offers a week-long walking holiday, "Valley of Gold", that takes hikers along the original wine route following the river, stopping at traditional quintas (port wineries). The trip costs from £878pp, including seven nights' B&B, three dinners, three lunches and luggage transfers; flights not included.

Hop to it

Ramblers Worldwide (01707 331133; ramblersholidays.co.uk) has a new trip, "Ale and Amble in the Lake District" where you can visit atmospheric old inns such as The Bridge and The Fish in Buttermere during the course of your hike. The first trip, taking place on 5 April, also includes a visit to a brewery and costs from £499pp, full board. Meanwhile, in New York City, explore the city's current craft beer renaissance on a Brewed in Brooklyn walking tour ($65/£43) or Fermented NY Craft Beer Tour ($70/£47) with Urban Oyster (urbanoyster.com).

That's the spirit!

Da Mhile Distillery (damhile.co.uk) is an organic, farmhouse distillery founded last autumn at Glynhynod Farm in Ceredigion, Wales. Its speciality? Seaweed gin made from organic grains and local laver from the Ceredigion coast. You can tour the distillery by appointment (£7.50pp) or book a tasting course.

At Adnams Distillery (01502 727225; distillerytours.adnams.co.uk) in Suffolk, meanwhile, you can make your own gin using miniature copper stills. The one-day Distillery Experience costs £100pp, a tour and tasting is £10pp.

Next spring, Bombay Sapphire's new distillery and visitor centre opens in Hampshire. Housed in the converted Laverstoke Mill (laverstokemill.co.uk), it will have a glasshouse designed by Thomas Heatherwick.

Wine routes

Exodus (0845 863 9601; exodus.co.uk) has a new eight-day "Rioja: Cycling and Wine" trip, which freewheels past hilltop towns and vineyards in Spain. It costs from £1,099pp including flights, accommodation and some meals.

Or explore South Africa's winelands on horseback with TripAfrica (01638 500133; tripafricatravel.com). There are long days in the saddle on this nine-day, 190km ride, but plenty of time for tasting. From £2,950pp, including full board, tastings and transfers, but not flights.

The Napa Valley Wine Train (001 707 253 2111; winetrain.com) chugs along 25km of track through California's famous wine region. Lunch excursion from US$114 (£76).

Headwater (0845 527 7027; headwater.com) offers a complimentary Wine Service for those on its self-guided "Alsace Wine Trail" walking holiday, dropping bottles at the final hotel; from £928pp, including B&B and two evening meals.

Or journey along New Zealand's wine trails with Scott Dunn (020 8682 5060; scottdunn.com), which has a 19-night itinerary through some spectacular scenery; from £12,600pp including flights, car hire and some meals.

Insider information

"I've been escorting wine lovers to the wine regions of the world for more than 25 years. One of my favourite new destinations is Georgia, where they have been making wine for about 10,000 years. It's exciting to see wine still being made naturally in the qvevri or old clay pots." Tim Clarke, co-founder of Arblaster & Clarke Wine Tours (01730 263 111; winetours.co.uk).