Wines always taste better when you are on holiday. You have all the time in the world to enjoy your wines matched with gourmet meals, and strolling around the estates in which they are grown, and learning about the process and terroir from the winemaker all serve to enhance your enjoyment of the local wine. If you are partial to new world wines, note that their growing season is the opposite of up north: the harvest season for Argentina or Australia is in March. You can start planning that trip now.
Click through the list below to see four of the best getaways for wine lovers
Cape Lodge, Margaret River, Australia
Located along a beautiful coast rich with old growth Karri forests teeming with flora and fauna and some of the best boutique wineries in the country a three-hour drive away from Perth, Cape Lodge has an award-winning restaurant which occasionally hosts sell-out wine pairing dinners.
The 22-room Cape Lodge itself (with a luxury five-bedroom private residence) is on a 40-acre private estate, with a secluded eight-acre vineyard fringed by lakes and forest. The hotel has been voted twice as Australia’s finest boutique hotel.
As if as there’s not enough to drink, guests are also invited to taste not yet released wines straight from the barrel during estate tours.
Its production of shiraz and sauvignon blanc is small at only 3,000 each per year and is sold exclusively to guests. However, its14,000-bottle wine cellar with the best vintages from all over the world means guests are spolit for choice when it comes to wine pairing. As if as there’s not enough to drink, guests are also invited to taste not yet released wines straight from the barrel during estate tours.
Rooms are decorated in contemporary classic country Australian with artworks from Peter and Joelle Larsen, the owners’ private collection of Western Australian artists focusing on the colours and textures of the surrounding environs. All offer panoramic views of the surrounding lakes and grounds. www.capelodge.com.au
Castello Banfi il Borgo, Tuscany, Italy
Within the walls of a medieval castle in the rolling hills of Montalcino’s wine estates in picturesque wheaten and olive shaded Tuscany is a former borgo. (rural village of rustic farmhouses) It sits on a 2,830-hectare estate on top of a hill of vineyards, olive groves, cypresses and pines, and deep woods populated with deer, pheasant and wild boar. The former estate workers’ village houses are a seamless mix of elegant rooms and suites furnished by Italian architect Federico Forquet, with warm and rich Tuscan colours.
The sangiovese also finds it way into vino-therapy products on the estate
Guest size is kept small in the 14 rooms and suites, but the concierge service and facilities are no less of what you’d expect from a five star hotel. The vineyards of mostly sangiovese, some syrah, cabernet, merlot, pinot grigio and chardonnay etc, yield about 7,000 barrels per season. The estate’s sangiovese also finds it way into vino-therapy products on the estate. With a production of 29 labels and 11 million bottles a year, there are plenty of wine activities besides the usual tasting for guests to partake in at the winery that is running a few research projects as well.
For meals, there’s casual and hearty for lunch at La Taverna and refined for dinner at La Sala dei Grapolli at this property two hours away from Florence by car. www.castellobanfiilborgo.com
Lanzerac Estate, Stellenbosch, South Africa
This is a wine hotel steeped in history that goes as far back as 600 years when the first European settlers set foot in the southern tip of Africa. The country’s first vineyards were planted here 300 years ago while this country house opened its doors as a country hotel in 1958 and the estate produced the world’s first bottled pinotage in 1959. Despite the vintage and well preserved Cape Dutch look – Old World feel with ornate antique pieces, tapestries, and rich fabrics in 48 well appointed bedrooms, the hotel has been constantly refurbished and is well equipped with mod cons, drawing in a guest list of some of the most famous names in film and politics in the world.
Guests are equally spoiled for choice when it comes to dining – depending on whether they prefer black-tie events or al fresco meals on a terrace on a bacchanalian afternoon
The 45-hectare vineyard on the 155-hectare estate itself yields about 500 tonnes of wine from Chardonnay to Petit Verdot every harvest season, which goes into 240, 000 bottles in 12 labels. Guests can choose from a wide range of tastings and pairings besides cellar and vineyard tours with viticulturists.
They are equally spoiled for choice when it comes to dining – depending on whether they prefer black-tie events or alfresco meals on a terrace on a bacchanalian afternoon. Executive Chef Stephen Fraser runs the kitchens based on a locavore philosophy. The Lanzerac Spa and Wellness Centre is a full-fledged destination spa using the Theravine range, a premier grape-based skincare brand at its facilities which include hydrotherapy and a Vichy shower. www.lanzerac.co.za
Patios de Cafayate Hotel & Spa, Salta, Argentina
The town of Cafayate in the northwest of Argentina, about three hours away from Salta airport has opened up a lot in recent years as a wine tourism venue when its Torrontés started to draw attention to the region – much like what Malbec did for Mendoza. There’s now a Vine and Wine museum and other tourist infrastructure in place for those looking to venture beyond the grounds of the hotel situated 1,700 metres above sea level, with spectacular views of the Calchaquíes Valleys’ vineyards.
Cafayate's Torrontés started to draw attention to the region – much like
what Malbec did for Mendoza
Many other activities may beckon but this colonial mansion holds plenty of charms too. Within the original hacienda architecture maze of patios, gardens and even a chapel with hand-painted murals, are 32 bedroom and three suites, an expansive wine cellar and some llamas walking around the grounds (some of them make their way into the local menu).
The biggest draw of late is the vino-therapy spa which incorporates grape skin and even cactus and carob in its treatments. Décor is made up of an electic and colourful mix of ethnic Argentine tapestries designed by famous Calchaquí artist Héctor Cruz and original 19th century loom woven carpets and oven baked clay tiles. The winery on the estate is El Esteco famous for labels such as Elementos and Ciclos. www.patiodescafayate.com