The softening of the sun and changing of the leaves marks the beginning of the perfect season to get away and experience local traditions. With many cities throughout Europe taking the time to celebrate their harvest, travelers are given a unique opportunity to interact with locals from the entire region. Our list of the top five autumn harvests to visit comes straight from the guides and locals who know them best. Any one of these celebrations is sure to make your autumn adventure truly unforgettable.
Truffles in Piedmont
Piedmont is famous for the White Truffle Festival in Alba, which runs from October 12 through mid-November. Truffle tastings are surrounded by wines, cheeses, pastas, charcuteries, and patisseries from Langhe and Roero. While in Alba, savor Michelin-starred meals at renowned local gems like the Piazza Duomo Restaurant for unforgettable gastronomic experiences that will engage all of your senses. Even if you decide not to visit the festival, throughout Piedmont you can get truffles in many dishes during the fall season and witness truffle hunters out scouring the forests.
Pomegranates in Andalucia
Autumn blows into Andalusia rather abruptly. Big red pomegranates and green chirimoyas now rule the day, as do shorter days, cooler nights. The abundance of pomegranates will usually last well into the season. While you explore Andalucia, visit the charming white hilltop villages that date back to the times of the Romans, and beyond. The village of Iznajar, in particular, is a classic pueblo blanco set like a shimmering pearl on top of its hilly pedestal. Spain is also one of the most highly touted wine-producing nations in the world, with outstanding offerings from La Rioja, Priorat, and more.
Olives in Puglia
Surrounded by the beauty and warmth of this culinary paradise, Puglia’s November olive harvests make for one of the most memorable travel experiences you’ll ever share. Immerse yourself in the world of extra virgin olive oil and the food of the region through one-of-a-kind experiences in the countryside, at the mill, in the charming local towns and in the best local kitchens.
Wine in Burgundy
The landscape is breathtaking and the food is classic Burgundian. But it’s the gathering together of the people that make this region so special during the autumn. The grape harvest is back-breaking work that is rich in history and tradition. From the Romans to Cistercian Monks, for thousands of years people from all over Europe have gathered in Burgundy for this historic event. After the harvest the landscape changes daily as the leaves transition from shades of bright yellow to dark reds that make for a stunning view. It’s the perfect time to bicycle through the groves and imagine the future of these famous Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes.
Red wine in Bordeaux
In the weeks of mid-September, this region’s grape harvest officially — or at least symbolically, with clusters of grape-shaped balloons floating freely —begins. However, many vignerons won’t plan to pick their Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon and Malbec until the last week of September or early October when the air is crisp with the smell of autumn leaves. The lively festivals are heavily infused with tradition and beautifully symbolic rituals performed to bring about only the most bountiful harvest.
Andy Levine is the President/Founder of DuVine Cycling + Adventure Co.