Once you begin your journey into the world of wine, your travels will never be the same. The search for new wines and far-flung destinations in which to enjoy them will take over. To get you started on your voyage of the vine, here are 10 places around the world that will speak to the wine lover in.
1. Valley of the vines
Where: Auberge du Soleil, meaning, “Inn of the Sun” is an elegant hotel set on a 33-acre olive grove surrounded by the vineyards of the Napa Valley.
Wine lovers: The estate itself is home to one of most extensive wine cellars in the valley, a 15,000-bottle wine cellar with domestic and international wines hand-selected by the Director of Wine. Guests can explore new wines by the glass at The Bistro & Bar, on the terrace or in their own hillside maison, overlooking the sculpture garden. Alternatively, combine wine tasting with the Mediterranean-inspired cuisine at the Restaurant at Auberge du Soleil, with dishes from Executive Chef Robert Curry of 10 consecutive Michelin Stars. Visit the Napa Valley’s other wineries nearby or experience the fruits of the vines in another way – with spa treatments at the hotel that utilise the grapes of Napa in unique ways.
2. The magic of the Sonoma
Where: Set in the hills of the Russian River Valley, Hotel Les Mars in Northern California is just over an hour north of the Golden Gate Bridge, in Healdsburg, an authentic farming community that encapsulates the charm of the Sonoma Wine Country.
Wine lovers: When not enjoying highly acclaimed wines and farm-to-table dining at the hotel, head out and explore the country roads that meander through the surrounding vineyards, valleys and redwood forests. Hotel Les Mars has cultivated exclusive relationships with local wineries in Sonoma and Napa Counties – visit one of these more than 100 world-class wineries, including Chalk Hill, Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley and Russian River Valley, and receive a complimentary tour and tasting as well as exclusive amenities.
3. Uniquely Uruguayan
Where: A cellar, farm, restaurant and lodge all in one, Narbona Wine Lodge is one of the most famous wineries in Uruguay, founded in 1909 and set in the town of Carmelo in western Uruguay, South America.
Wine lovers: The wine cellar is located in the hull of the original farm, dating from 1909, where Juan de Narbona founded one of the first wineries in the country. Guests can explore the vineyards – with its Tannat, Pinot Noir, Petit Verdot and Viognier y Syrah grapes – by bicycle or foot. Sample the estate’s wines by the pool, surrounded by gardens, on the patio overlooking the vines, at the bar or in the restaurant with Uruguayan specialities or cheese tastings, or perhaps sitting beside the open fire or outside at night, by candlelight.
4. A blend of vineyards, history and art of living
Where: Château Cordeillan-Bages’ two hectares of vineyard sit to the south of Pauillac on a gravelly ridge of the Bages plateau.
Wine lovers: Château Cordeillan-Bages’ wine is produced by the winemakers of Château Lynch-Bages, which lies at the heart of Pauillac, overlooking the Gironde estuary. According to owner, Jean-Charles Cazes, “A visit of this late 16th-century building is like a trip through time.” Take a look at the wine-making tub in the cellars, dating from 1850, a rare example of historical wine-producing equipment. Enjoy a glass or two of one of the estates more than 1,500 wines – including the Bordeaux grands crus and a fine collection of wines from other estates – whether in the Château Cordeillan-Bages restaurant, with food-and-wine pairings, on a gourmet picnic or a romantic horse-drawn carriage escapade. Guests can also explore the surrounding Bordeaux region on outings to the surrounding wine cellars. Lynch-Bages closing from January 2017 until june 2019.
5. The belle of Burgundy
Where: On the banks of the river Bouzaize, Hostellerie de Levernois lies within an elegant French-style garden and a five hectare park with century-old trees, in the heart of the prestigious Côte de Beaune vineyards in France.
Wine lovers: Finally, the cellar boasts a selection of 800 references from the most prestigious wines from Burgundy. Every Tuesday and Saturday, the sommeliers, Philippe Meurger and Nicolas Geoffroy, share their vineyard knowledge with guests at wine tasting meetings in the Cellar, covering topics related to the Burgundy vineyards. Combine a glass of wine with traditional cuisine with a modern flair In the gourmet restaurant and simple, delicious dishes compliments of the vegetable garden at the Bistrot du Bord de l’Eau in the ancient kitchen that dates back to 1750.
6. The secret garden of Carcassonne
Where: The Domaine d'Auriac is an elegant 19th-century townhouse built on the ancient Carsac oppidum, in Carcassonne, a hilltop town in southern France’s Languedoc area and presents one of the biggest and best preserved fortified cities in Europe
Wine lovers: The restaurant Bernard Rigaudis is the perfect setting in which to enjoy the great wines of Languedoc-Roussillon – along with the original recipe for the typical local “Dieu le Fils” cassoulet. Alternatively take a glass down to the swimming pool and enjoy another before dinner as the sun sets behind the olive trees. Explore the surrounds, taking the slow road through Cathar country, visiting the Cathare abbeys and castles whose ruins rise from cliff tops and rocky promontories.
7. Wine and Rhine
Where: A restored castle dating back more than 150 years, Burg Schwarzenstein sits in the middle of the Schwarzenstein vineyard's hills, high up in Germany’s Rheingau region and looking out over the Rhine Valley.
Wine lovers: Delve into the world of Riesling with a tour of the Schwarzenstein vineyard - sample Kabinett, Spätlese and Erste Lage wines in the vineyards where they are produced. Oenologist Michel Fouquet recommends going to Vollrads Castle, strolling en route along the Rhine and the vineyards of the Rhine valley. At Vollrads Castle, you will learn to recognise the different types of Riesling and sample the Vollrads "kalte Ente", a punch made from light wines, sparkling wines and lemon. Enjoy a glass with a meal in the Burg Schwarzenstein’s restaurant - Nils Henkel or the romantic Burgrestaurant.
8. The jewel of the Cape Winelands
Where: Owned by jeweller, Laurence Graff, who founded Graff Diamonds, Delaire Graff Lodges and Spa (Delaire meaning ‘from the sky’) is perched on the slopes of the magnificent Botmaskop peak in the Stellenbosch Mountains of South Africa, about an hour’s drive from Cape Town.
Wine lovers: Delaire Graff wines are among the most prestigious in the Southern Hemisphere – partly because of the unique terroir of the estate: a combination of maritime and mountain, on the crest of the panoramic Helshoogte Mountain Pass; but the success also has a lot to do with accomplished South African winemaker, Morné Very who is responsible for the estate’s finest appellations. Explore the 20 hectares of vineyards on estate walks, glimpsing Bordeaux reds and Chardonnay grapes that are tended by hand. Go on a wine tasting and cellar tour and delight in a glass of Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc blends, rosé or sparkling Brut – in the wine lounge, on the outside terrace or inside beside a crackling fire. You can also explore the nearby historical Winelands town of Stellenbosch and go on vineyard horse rides, helicopter adventures and picnics.
9. A seaside setting
Where: Ellerman House Situated in the heart of Cape Town’s exclusive suburb of Bantry Bay, this elegant Edwardian mansion overlooks the Atlantic Ocean, with the magnificent Lion’s Head as the backdrop.
Wine lovers: “The wine gallery is much more than a function space – it is a work of art.” These are the words of Paul Harris, owner of Ellerman House, and something that is evident even at first glance. Guided by sommelier Manuel Cabello, the gallery takes guests on an interactive journey into the world of wine, with daily wine tastings, food and wine pairings, The Dom Pérignon Experience and brandy tastings. The gallery aims to bring to life South Africa’s 350-year old heritage of winemaking, and holds the hotel’s 7500-bottle collection of South African vintage wines, including established and emerging labels from the Western Cape’s world-renowned wine regions, many rare wines and special releases. There is an interactive multi-media wine library and a wine App for iPads with detailed information about the estates of the nearby Cape Winelands and tasting notes for each of the wines featured on the hotel’s wine list. Guests can visit the brandy tasting lounge and take a peek into the champagne cellar, stocked with rare vintages of Dom Pérignon. The hotel’s Signature Constantia Experience and Signature Stellenbosch Experience takes guests on a tour of three famous Cape Winelands Farms during their stay at Ellerman House.
10. From a land down under
Where: A boutique, single-estate vineyard, The Hentley Farm Restaurant is set on a 150 acre vineyard and farm, on the banks of Greenock Creek in the Barossa Valley in Australia.
Wine lovers: Wine is at the centre of the Hentley Farm experience. Enjoy a glass of wine in the Tasting Room, with its leather bar stools and solid red gum counter, on the shady verandah overlooking the Hentley Farm courtyard, in the Gallery Room, or – for private members – in the Tally Room and Dining Room. The farm specialises in premium single-block wines and is considered one of Australia’s leading boutique wineries. To continue your wine Journey you can spend a night at The Louise located 5 minutes away, where you’ll be able to enjoy a beautiful sunset over vineyards.