Specialist wine tour company SmoothRed has moved into Eastern Europe with the launch of five new breaks that uncork the lesser-known yet impressive wines of Hungary and Croatia.
Three new tours have been created in Hungary, focusing on the Etyek, Tokaj and Eger wine-growing areas, in addition to two new tours in Croatia, with two based in Dubrovnik or Split, with trips to the vineyards of Dignač and Kastela respectively. Self-drive 4×4 safaris amid the vines and helicopter transfers from city to countryside are among the luxurious encounters awaiting east-bound gourmonds.
The five-day luxury Hungarian Collection: Budapest and Tokaj break features private wine tours in Etyek, Tokaj and Eger, visiting leading vineyards, including Kovács Nimród and Disznókő, plus the thrilling option of private helicopter transfers between Budapest and Tokaj. There’s a chance to dine at the fashionable one-Michelin-star restaurant Borkonyha Winekitchen in Budapest as well as nights Aria Hotel Budapest, a five-star luxury hotel and spa recently named number one in TripAdvisor’s Top 25 Hotels in the World, and Andrássy Rezidencia Wine & Spa, the only five-star resort in Tokaj.
An off-road vineyard safari is the highlight of the four-day Tokaj Wine Experience, an exploration of Tokaj wines, based at Andrássy Rezidencia Wine & Spa. Guests on this action-packed break will get behind the wheel of a 4×4 to drive among the vines at a family-run winery, as well as enjoy private tours and tastings at Patricius and Szepsy, with an English-speaking guide.
The terraces of Buda Castle provide a superb setting for the Budapest Wine Festival, a celebration of the nation’s wines. Guests on this four-day break receive a pass to the festival for the duration of their stay to enable thorough exploration of the 200-plus wineries exhibiting their wares. They’ll also be whisked off to the vineyards of Etyek to try the crisp white wines, and Eger to savour the fruity flavours of the famous Bull’s Blood.
A boat tour of the Elafiti islands and private visits to wineries in the Dignač are among the memorable moments in the four-day Dubrovnik Wine-Tasting Experience, the perfect introduction to Croatian wines. Guests will discover the dark, full-bodied reds created from the Plavac Mali grape, planted in the hillside vineyards, with tastings at three wineries, pairing different vintages with local cheeses, meats and even oysters. There’ll also be time to explore the city and relax by the Med at the sumptuous five-star Hotel Dubrovnik Palace.
The wine varieties of Dalmatia, home of the Zinfandel grape, is the focus of the four-day Split Wine-Tasting Experience itinerary to the historic city of Split and nearby Kastela vineyards. Guests will enjoy private tastings at the prestigious estates cultivating Pošip and Plavac Mali, and learn how the powerful, robust Zinfandel grape found its way from Eastern Europe to sunny California. The packed agenda also includes a tour of the ancient city, calling by Diocletian’s Palace, and a cookery course amid the olive groves of the island of Brač, but leaves enough time to discover why everyone raves about this coastline’s beaches. www.smoothred.co.uk