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The eternal question of what to do during a long layover — or when you’re suddenly faced with a cancellation or unanticipated free time before a scheduled return flight — may just have a refreshing solution: go and spend some time at a great winery near the airport.
Below, you’ll find a list of 10 such wineries, all located within an hour’s drive of several major US and international airports during. All the usual cautions should be observed — make sure you plan your trip in advance, reconfirm appointments and provide a suitable cushion for traffic delays, just in case.
Consider taking a taxi or using Uber or Lyft to get a ride to the winery and back to the airport — it’ll be quicker, though probably a bit more expensive, than renting a car. Two of the wineries — which can be accessed by train and water taxi, respectively — will also be a little more expensive to get to and likely take additional time, but even they are doable with a long layover and adequate planning. Boy voyage and salud!
1. San Francisco (SFO)
Winery: Ridge Vineyards
Location: 17100 Monte Bello Road, Cupertino, CA (408-867-3233)
Distance from Airport: 38 miles, 53 minutes in normal traffic
Hours of Operation: Weekdays, by appointment only; 11:00am–5pm on weekends
Since he took over in 1969 as winemaker, Paul Draper has made this mountaintop winery famous for its Zinfandels and Cabernet Sauvignons.
2. Rome (FCO)
Location: Tenuta di Fiorano: Via di Fioranella, 19-31, Rome (39-06-79340093); Fattoria di Fiorano: Via di Fioranello 34, Rome (39-06-79340114)
Distance from Airport: Each winery is about 20 miles, or about a 25-minute drive, from FCO
Hours of Operation: Contact each winery for hours and to make reservations
Fiorano is an historic wine estate on the southern outskirts of Rome which was split in two after the owner died — one (Fattoria di Fiorano) is run by the family, while the other (Tenuta di Fiorano) is run by their cousin. Both have continued the legacy of high-quality winemaking.
3. Washington, D.C. (IAD)
Winery: Boxwood Estate Winery
Location: 2042 Burrland Lane, Middleburg, VA (540-687-8778)
Distance from Airport: 25 miles, or about a 45-minute drive from IAD
Hours of Operation: Summer hours are 11:00am–6:00pm, Thursday through Sunday
Boxwood Estate Winery is located in Virginia’s horse-farm country and owned by the same Cooke family that once owned the NFL Washington Redskins. It retains as consultant legendary French winemaker Stephane Derenencourt.
4. Paris (CDG)
Winery: G.H. Mumm
Location: 34 rue du Champs de Mars, Reims (03 26 49 59 70)
Distance from Airport: TGV trains can get from CDG to Champagne-Ardennes in as little as 20 minutes, with a brief transfer by local train or taxi to downtown Reims — Mumm is located a few blocks from the Gare de Reims. Be sure to check the returning train schedule to make sure there is sufficient time to get back to the airport.
Hours of Operation: 9:30am to 1:00pm and 2:00pm to 6:00pm daily March through October. 9:30am to 12:00pm and 2:00pm to 6:00pm Monday to Saturday from November through December
At eight million bottles a year, Mumm is one of the largest Champagne houses in the world, and its Cordon Rouge is one of the largest-selling bubblies in the U.S. In addition to the tour, its museum is also worth a stop.
5. Venice (VCE)
Location: F.ta S. Caterina 3, Mazzorbo Island (39 041 52 72 281)
Distance from Airport: About a 25-minute ride by vaporetto (water taxi) from the dock adjacent to the airport
Hours of Operation: By reservation only
The only commercial vineyard in the Venetian Lagoon, Venissa also operates an adjacent restaurant, which serves the rare wine, as well as a small hotel. The wine is made from the golden dorano grapes planted by the Bisol family of Prosecco fame.
6. Auckland, New Zealand (AKL)
Winery: Kumeu River
Location: 550 State Highway 16, Kumeu (64 9 412 8415)
Distance from Airport: 25 miles, or about a 37-minute drive from AKL
Hours of Operation: Monday–Friday 9:30am–4:30pm; Saturday 11:00am to 4:30pm; closed Sundays and between Dec. 25, 2016, and Jan. 5, 2017
Owned by the Brajkovich family, Kumeu River Chardonnays are often cited as the best in New Zealand by critics such as Neal Martin and Harvey Steiman.
7. Frankfurt (FRA)
Winery: Weingut Kunstler
Location: Geheimrat-Hummel-Platz 1a, 65239 Hochheim am Main, Germany (49 6146-83860)
Distance from Airport: 17 miles, or about a 20-minute drive from FRA
Hours of Operation: Weekdays from 8:00am to 6:00pm (except between noon and 1:00pm); Saturday from 10:00am to 4:00pm. Sunday from 11:00am to 4:00pm. Closed Sundays from January to Easter
The Kunstler family has been making wine since 1648 — at Hochheim since 1965 — and has a reputation for producing some of the best Rieslings in the Rheingau.
8. Barcelona (BCN)
Winery: Cavas Freixenet
Location: Joan Sala 2, 08770 Sant Sadurní d’Anoia (34 938 91 70 00)
Distance from Airport: 30 miles, or about a 35-minute drive from BCN
Hours of Operation: Daily by reservation.
In addition to the ubiquitous Cordon Negro, Freixenet also makes some of the best Cava in Spain. While you’re there, explore its historic caves, once used as bomb shelters for the residents of Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War.
9. Athens (ATH)
Location: Pousi – Kalogeri, 19 003 Markopoulo, Mesogaia, Attica (30 22990-25206)
Distance from Airport: Nine miles, or about a 20-minute drive from ATH
Hours of Operation: Monday–Saturday 9:00am to 4:00pm; Sunday, by appointment only.
Attica was one of the haunts of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, and Papagiannakos honors the tradition by making old fashioned wines in a modern winery. It’s the closest of the airport wineries, within sight of the control tower.
10. Santiago, Chile (SCL)
Winery: Odfjell Vineyards
Location: Camino Viejo a Valparaiso 7.00 — Padre Hurtado, Santiago (56-2-28762800)
Distance from Airport: 18 miles, or about a 25-minute drive from SCL
Hours of Operation: Monday through Saturday, by appointment only.
Odfjell was founded 25 years ago in the Maipo Valley by a Norwegian shipping magnate of the same name. Its estate Cabernet Sauvignons and Carignans get consistently high ratings.
Have you been to any of these wineries? Tell us about your experience, below.
Featured image courtesy of Weingut Kunstler.
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