As many travelers today are roaming the wine regions of the world, it seems, as haunt the great art houses of Europe. It's an interest the wine-makers have been delighted to encourage, since most wine-tasters inevitably become wine-buyers.
In almost any major wine-producing area, you will be welcomed at vineyards -- large and small -- to sample the local product. You can wander the countryside on your own self-guided tour or join one of the organized trips that are available.
Among the places (and ways) to go wine-tasting from now through the fall:
*Champagne fests from Paris: On a full-day guided outing northeast of Paris, visit a brie factory in Meaux, enjoy a gourmet lunch overlooking the vineyards at Champillon and explore the vast champagne-aging caves of Moe t et Chandon at E'pernay. Tasting afterward, of course. "Champagne and Brie" ($75 per person) is one of 11 one- and three-day wine trips from Paris offered by Cooks' Tours. Frequent departures. For reservations: ITC Travel Services, 727 West 7th St., Suite 1000, Los Angeles, Calif. 90017, (213) 627-8568.
*Balloons over the Napa Valley: Soar above California's premier wine-growing region just north of San Francisco. It's an hour's sunrise flight followed by a champagne celebration, featuring selected labels from the valley's vineyards. Afterward, take a public tour, available daily at many larger wineries, or enjoy a private tasting at one of Napa Valley's great smaller wineries. $125 per person, departing daily from the city of Napa (weather permitting). For reservations: Balloon Aviation of Napa Valley, P.O. Box 3298, Napa, Calif. 94558, (707) 252-7067.
*The vineyards of Germany: Six major wine-tastings at prominent vineyards are promised on an 11-day itinerary by bus (and Rhine River cruise ship) from Frankfurt to Munich. Along the way: Superb scenery, ancient castles and cities, "first-class" or "deluxe" hotels and Johannisberg rieslings, mosels and other fine wines of the region. Land cost is $1,050 per person (double occupancy) and includes lodging and two meals daily. Air fare is extra. Departures Aug. 27, Sept. 10, Sept. 24 and Oct. 8. For information: Viva Tours U.S.A., 12 Station Rd., Bellport, N.Y. 11713, (800) 645-1084.
*Bicycling through Chianti Country: Sample the food and wines of Tuscany this fall on a nine-day villa-to-villa cycling tour, "Castles and Vineyards of Chiati." This Italian ramble departs from Florence and takes in the famed hill towns of San Gimignano and Siena. Land cost is $1,295 per person (double occupancy) and includes lodging, most meals, wine-tastings and use of a bicycle. Air fare is extra. Because of the hills, this one's for strong legs only. Departures Sept. 28 and Oct. 5. For information: Butterfield & Robinson Travel, 330 Bay St., Suite 1604, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5H 2S8, (416) 864-1354.
*"Burgundy, Beaujolais & Chablis" by bus: Three great wine regions south of Paris and a farewell dinner at the famed restaurant of chef Paul Bocuse are the highlights of this seven-day escorted tour offered by Jet Vacations of Air France. Vineyard visits, wine-tastings and wine lectures along the way. The land price is $750 per person (double occupancy), including lodging, breakfast, six lunches and one dinner. Air fare is extra. Frequent departures.
For information, contact: Air France, (800) 237-2747, or a travel agent.