Wine Touring on a Non-Wine Vacation

Catherine’s Winter Palace, home of the extravagant Hermitage Museum. Not a grapevine for hundreds of miles.

Family Vacations and Wine Discovery
While I might selfishly wish every vacation could be a wine vacation, that’s not always possible. Can you sneak in a little wine discovery on an otherwise non-wine situation?  Give this a try:

  • Do a little advance research. Find a list of wine bars in the cities you’ll visit. I search for natural wine bars, as the wines are always surprising and usually very good. The staff is guaranteed to be passionate
  • Save the wine bars in a personal map in Google maps
  • Once you’re there, go search out a wine bar one afternoon or evening. Bonus: if you walk, you’ll explore the city off the typical tourist path
  • Sometimes you’ll come up dry
  • When your family wants to go to some non-wine destination, smile, agree, and start your research!

I recently enjoyed a Rick Steves tour with a couple family members.  The trip fulfilled a bucket list wish of visiting the Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg Russia. Tallinn Estonia, Helsinki Finland, and St. Petersburg Russia are much too far north to consider any kind of grape growing. BUT, they do have some interesting wine bars.  Here’s what I found.

A Near Miss in Tallinn Estonia
The pre-trip research yielded Pazzo Wine Bar as the place to go. Unfortunately, on arrival I found their open days did not coincide with our visit. Rats! Fortunately, we happened on another bar/shop willing to help satisfy our thirst.

(click on any photo for a full size slide show, hit “escape” to return)


Helsinki Finland – Not Dark at Midnight
Modern, clean lines mark Helsinki as clearly Scandinavian. Near Midsummer, a walk to Bas Bas & Staff wine bar can start late in the evening. Take the long way coming back to the hotel!


Saint Petersburg Russia – Bucket List or Wine Bar Heaven?
The museums in Saint Petersburg were the highlight for most people on the trip. My favorite spot was На Вина (Na Vina!) wine bar.



5 Responses to “Wine Touring on a Non-Wine Vacation”
  1. Lynda Seasly says:

    Love this! As Michelle said, we were a braid of interests and care as a family! Thanks for all the memories, beautiful photos and memories! Lynda

  2. I’ve wanted to visit this part of the world for a while. Not sure if/when I might get there, so thanks for the gorgeous evening skies, a peek inside the Hermitage, and a virtual taste of some really cool wines!

  3. I can’t imagine a trip without wine. Enjoy the strolls.

  4. Lynn says:

    Stellar photos Jeff! You nailed it on the wine bar search, first priority… well that and good restaurants when I know we’ll be going to a certain city. Noting the Helsinki wine bar, we’re hoping to get there this year.

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