8 Places Where Wine Meets Culture

PHOTO: "Art de Vivre" in the Languedoc
Courtesy of Gerard Bertrand Wines USA.

Wine tourism experts say you should visit no more than three tasting rooms a day on an enotourism vacation. Anything more overtaxes the palate. What to do when not sipping? If you're in one of the wine regions that doubles as an under-the-radar cultural hub, you could check out a play, an art walk or an open-air music festival. Many will even let you attend glass-in-hand.

PHOTO: "Art de Vivre" in the Languedoc
Courtesy of Gerard Bertrand Wines USA.
Languedoc-Roussillon: France's 'New World'

People in the Languedoc-Roussillon wine industry refer to it as "the New World of France" because the rules of winemaking are much more progressive than in Bordeaux or Burgundy, and the winemakers more adventurous. Plus, the average price point is more affordable, making these wines perfect to sip at the area's many concerts, parties and festivals.

PHOTO: Earth, Wind & Fire at Jazz Festival L'Hospitalet
Courtesy of Gerard Bertrand Wines USA
Earth, Wind & Fire at Jazz Festival L'Hospitalet

The quasi-official spokesman for the region is one Gerard Bertrand, former rugby captain, legendary host and promoter of "Art de Vivre." Annual events such as Jazz Festival at L'Hospitalet bring thousands of attendees, including international bon vivants from Australia and America, Parisian intellectuals and the entire population of neighboring villages.

PHOTO: Napa Valley with more arts every year.
Napa Valley Festival del Sole.
Napa Valley: More Arts Every Year

Because Crush season only comes once a year -- and also because the locals need something besides Cabernet to occupy their minds -- Napa has an ever-more-robust arts and culture calendar. The dancers pictured performed in the Napa Valley Festival del Sole, an annual 10-day classical music and dance extravaganza.

PHOTO: Napa Valley Film Festival screening at NV Opera House.
Napa Valley Film Festival.
Napa Valley Film Festival Screening at NV Opera House

Although its inauguration was only last year, the Napa Valley Film Festival is receiving press from national entertainment magazines going into its "Second Annual" run, causing triumphant shouts to ring out around the Valley. The dates are Nov. 7-11, 2012, but don't wait to snag tickets.

PHOTO: Beacon Open Studio Weekend
Courtesy of BeaconArts (BACA)
Beacon on the Hudson

Home to Woodstock Byrdcliffe Arts Colony (the oldest continuing artists' colony in the United States), the Hudson Valley encompasses 10 burgeoning arts communities in all. They come together under the umbrella organization Art Along the Hudson, hosting events and open studio weekends through the end of October.

PHOTO: Balloon Launch at Highland HudsonFest
Courtesy of Highland Hudson Fest
Balloon Launch at Highland HudsonFest

On the wine side, there are more than 25 wineries in the region, including 11 on the Shawangunk Wine Trail that runs through Woodstock Byrdcliffe. More than 60 events are on the calendar for the 2012 harvest season, which wraps in mid-November. Highland HudsonFest, pictured, takes place on Columbus Day Weekend, the same as O+ Festival in Kingston and Celebration of the Arts in New Paltz.

PHOTO: Porto, Cultural Hub of the Douro Valley.
Felipe Avila de Costa/Flickr
Porto, Cultural Hub of the Douro Valley

In Portugal's famous port-producing Douro Valley, the bustling hub city of Porto isn't just a great "base camp" for wine tourists, but also an up-and-coming cultural destination. Annual Porto cultural events include Fantasporto, the Porto International Film Festival, in February-March; and Serralves em Festa, a huge three-day contemporary art festival held June.

PHOTO: Film, Food & Wine in the Alto Douro
Courtesy of Douro Film Harvest.
Film, Food & Wine in the Alto Douro

Further afield, the Alto Douro region now has its own Douro Film Harvest that occurs at the peak of the grape harvest. Most of the films screened are food and wine-related, to underscore the importance of viniculture in this region's history and identity.

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