If you are looking for an excuse to visit France this fall, here is one: Les salons des vins des Vignerons Indépendants. It is an annual wine expo, held in four separate regions, where the public can sample and buy wines from hundreds of independent French wineries. I have been to this event twice (I took this photo at the Paris event in 2004), and it is amazing. Aside from being able to sample so many wines, you can also get some great deals by buying direct from the producers. You could either drag a case or two on the plane home, or go all out and have it shipped to you.
The website is only in French, which gives you some indication of what this event is all about. It is not meant to be a tourist attraction. It is for French wine lovers. (On a side note: try using the Google translate function if you are in the mood for a good laugh, but not if you are actually trying to gain practical information about the event.) Several of the Bistrot’s favorite small vineyards will be there.
The different salons are held in Paris, Lyon, Lille and Reims throughout November (see the website for dates). And admission is a measly €6 — compare that to the $71 daily ticket for the Boston Wine Expo!