This latest edition of Lonely Planet’s “Wine Trails” picks up from its first edition released in 2015 by giving readers a fly-by view of enotourism destinations around the world.
As it states on the cover, it covers 52 “perfect weekends” and, given the vast scope of locations tucked into its compact 300+ pages, this is in no way meant to be an exhaustive reference to all the regions listed. What’s presented is an outline of one or two days in a wine destination with highlights and just enough dusting of context to give you an idea of what to expect. Thus the “weekend” claim on the cover is very much lived up to.
It’s an interesting book as it forms part of the Lonely Planet “Food” division they’ve been working to grow which has also included Wine Trails guides for the USA & Canada in 2018 as well as Europe in 2020. I think we all missed that last one as it was clearly a tough moment to release a travel guide of any type. All of these guides mark quite a departure from their standard travel guides which were traditionally targeted at budget travellers.
Given the sharp design, crisp, on-point text, and what are overall good selections of wineries in various regions, it’s a well-made book. Due to the traditional audience, I was however wondering who this book was for as wine destinations are not ever “budget” destinations. What I ultimately came up with is that it’s for people who who grew up using Lonely Planet to travel, have done Napa Valley and the like and are wondering, “So, what else is there in enotourism?” Thus, they’d have this book on a shelf in their library to go back to when wanting fresh inspiration.
For the general reader, I think that the book will serve them well, as long as they keep in mind its only real flaw in that despite coming out in a post-hardcore pandemic period, the information is quite old.
I noticed this when looking at the Priorat section (which is billed in promotional material as being “off the beaten track” wtf?) and there’s a winery owner listed in there who died in 2020. Throughout the chapters on Spain, there’s also constant confusion over using the right names for grapes as well as confusing Spanish and Catalan in the Catalunya section, but this is pretty much always lacking in English-language text.
On a very positive note, when looking through the Kakheti section for Georgia, I was readily impressed as not only is it an engaging selection of wineries that aren’t the typical ones, but also, the vessel for aging wine, a “kvevri”, is spelled correctly. Curious about this, I asked the co-author of my Georgia book and it turns out she was a source for this chapter as per a visit by the author of the section in 2019 so again, this is pre-pandemic information. Is it a dealbreaker? In terms of having a good starting point, probably not.
I then asked a friend who knows a good deal about Canadian wine how the Okanagan Valley section stacked up and was told that what was in the 2015 edition was quite incorrect and there’s little to believe that it’s been fixed for this new edition.
Ultimately, the book seems like it forms a good skeleton for getting a handle on the world of enotourism at large. It rightfully eschews covering the overly-touristic Napa Valley (but then includes Bordeaux for some reason), looks nice and reads well. If you find yourself drowning in possibilities when it comes to visiting wine regions, it is indeed a solid place to start.
Its underlying issue is to mind the details and before you decide to go anywhere based upon it, make sure to double-check anything that you read in it before making hard plans.
Is there another book like this out there? Most definitely not at this scale, so if wine is on your mind, this will serve you well.
Happy (wine) travels.
Review copy provided by the publisher
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