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11 of the Most Elite Travel Destinations For Wine Lovers
Visit these exclusive spots from Australia to South Africa, and you'll be the envy of oenophiles everywhere.
You don’t have to own your own winery like Brangelina, Francis Ford Coppola, or Dave Matthews to enjoy the finer things wine country has to offer. Here are some of the world’s most luxurious winery getaways and what you can expect to find (and drink!) there.
1. Viña Vik
You’d be forgiven for thinking Frank Gehry designed this new hilltop hideaway in Chile’s Cachapoal Valley (about two hours from Santiago). But Viña Vik’s gold-tinted titanium roof with whorls and spirals was actually designed by Uruguayan architect Marcelo Daglio, and husband-wife co-owners, Alexander and Carrie Vik. The hotel has just 22 individual suites, each decorated according to a specific theme and with one-of-a-kind pieces from the Viks’ private art collection. One is filled with the work of Fornasetti, while the Shogun Suite recreates an over-the-top Japanese ryokan-style ambiance. The pièce de résistance, however, has to be the Vik Master Suite with a sleek fiberglass Vessel Bathtub by Splinter Works suspended from the walls like a futuristic hammock. In the restaurant, chef Rodrigo Acuña Bravo forages from all over the surrounding district for palate-pleasing menu items like pan-seared Pacific hake in olive oil with cauliflower puree and mustard greens. Dishes here are paired with the flagship wine produced on the estate’s 11,000 acres. Called Vik (of course), it is a heady blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, and Chile’s signature grape, Carmenère.
2. The Louise, Australia
Australia’s most famous wine regions, the Barossa Valley just an hour from Adelaide, is also home to one of its most luxurious wine-country resorts, the Louise. Part of the illustrious Luxury Lodges of Australia consortium, the Louise has just 15 self-contained, understatedly elegant villas, each with its own private, gated patio and garden, and bathrooms with decadent touches such as heated marble floors and both indoor and outdoor showers, in case you want a view of the Southern Cross in the night sky as you bathe. Before you settle into the plush bed, or start a game of chess in front of the fireplace with a glass of dessert wine in hand, be sure to book a meal at the property’s award-winning restaurant, Appellation. There, chef Ryan Edwards creates exquisite tasting menus from the best local produce and all the bounty South Australia has to offer. Starters might include Coffin Bay oysters with sea grapes and borage gelée, with a main of local Hutton Vale lamb with Jerusalem artichoke and sherry jus, and a dessert of bittersweet chocolate sorbet with roasted hazelnuts and candied kumquat... all paired with Barossa wines, of course.
3. Bardessono, California
The Napa Valley town of Yountville is famous for its world-class wineries and Thomas Keller’s the French Laundry, but it’s also a high-end hotel hotspot — and this one has become a classic since opening in 2009. The 62-suite Bardessono property is built on five acres of land once owned by the Bardessono family. It’s LEED-certified thanks to eco-sensitive features like geothermal heating and cooling, salvaged walnut flooring and beams, and rooftop solar panels. But that doesn’t mean it skimps on the finer amenities like romantic fireplaces, huge outdoor patios and balconies, and custom tubs and steam showers in the bathrooms, where you’ll also find a personal table and set-up for in-room spa treatments. The grounds provide a sense of zen thanks to various water features, fountains, and sculpture gardens, as well as an organic garden that grows herbs, fruits, and vegetables for the restaurant. The second-floor pool with sweeping views of the surrounding vineyards and mountains is one of Napa’s hottest spots to chill out.
4. Babylonstoren, South Africa
When Elle Decoration editor Karen Ross decided to open a winery and hotel, she settled on a 500-acre Cape Dutch winery, farm and orchard that dates back to 1692 in South Africa’s Cape Winelands. The Babylonstoren compound includes sprawling orchards and gardens (and a cactus maze) that supply the spa, where custom treatments include an anti-oxidant-packed lavender-roiboos body wrap, as well as the two restaurants, Green House and Babel, where the spring menu currently includes a baked eggplant terrine with sweet pickled rhubarb and sesame-ginger dressing. Some of the oldest buildings on the property also contain artisanal craft and food outlets including an onsite bakery, sundry shop, and a 14-room hotel where the rooms have classic whitewashed walls, peaked ceilings and gabled roofs.
5. Cape Kidnappers
While Marlborough and Central Otago might be more famous when it comes to New Zealand wine regions, one of the country’s most picturesque areas has to be the dramatic white cliffs of Hawke’s Bay on the North Island. That’s where you’ll find the uber-luxe lodge Cape Kidnappers overlooking a world-class golf course and the gateway to a rare colony of cliff-dwelling gannets (sea birds). Guests arrive on the 6,000-acre sheep farm and indigenous-species nature preserve (you can go out with a naturalist to track young kiwis in their native habitat) via a miles-long private road that winds through primordial forest. The stag-antler chandelier in the lodge’s main building is well worth a look, but be sure to also sip an aperitif in the Snug, a small, tower-like round sitting room with slit windows and glam fur throw pillows. The rooms and villas here take their inspiration from local sheep-sheering sheds, with décor like slate-gray stone and metallic roofs, overstuffed leather armchairs, farmhouse-style dining sets, and pastoral landscape paintings on the wall. Sometimes you have to pay a premium to enjoy the simple life.
6. Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco, Italy
When the Ferragamo family chooses a vacation spot, fashion glitterati — and everyone else for that matter — take notice. The hidden gem Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco, which is now managed by the illustrious Rosewood hotel group, is in the heart of Tuscany near Montalcino, Siena, and Florence. It dates back more than 800 years, and is comprised of a medieval castle, church, and even an entire village, though today the buildings house the hotel’s 23 suites. The hotel’s additional 10 villas are in former farmhouse buildings and dotted here and there with antique furniture from the area. The grounds span almost 5,000 acres of pristine nature preserve where you’ll find the ruins of civilizations past, including the Etruscans, Romans, and Visigoths. You’ll also find flowing fields of lavender, an 18-hole golf course and a cooking school, as well as the rustic Italian Osteria La Canonica restaurant and the Ristorante Campo del Drago serving Tuscan classics that go perfectly with the estate’s complex yet earthy red wines.
7. Cavas Wine Lodge, Argentina
Argentina’s Mendoza region first came to prominence about a decade ago with the explosion in popularity of its major grape variety, Malbec. But along with the international interest and tourist dollars came the opening of this ultra-luxe Relais & Chateaux-affiliated auberge in 2005. (It was the first in South America.) Nestled into its own expansive vineyards in the shadow of the snow-capped Andes, the adobe-chic casitas at Cavas Wine Lodge have amenities like wood-burning fireplaces, private plunge pools, and panoramic decks, as well as enormous bathrooms bigger than most Buenos Aires pieds-à-terre. Guests can tour the nearby wineries of Luján de Cuyo and then unwind with a soak in Bonarda wine in the intimate spa’s vinotherapie room. Also central to the experience is the hotel’s fine-dining restaurant, where guests gather each evening for elaborate tasting menus that might include confit suckling pig with cream and apple compote in a Torrontes wine sauce; or salmon and shrimp crudo with avocado cream and lemon “air."
8. Chateau Les Crayères, France
Practically everything about the city of Reims is royal. Its cathedral was where the French kings were once crowned. Champagne, of which it is the capital, is the king of French wines. And this famous hotel, one of France’s top wine-focused properties, makes guests feel like royalty. Chateau Les Crayères is hidden away in a 17-acre park on the outskirts of Reims and offers just 20 sumptuous rooms and suites in the original 1901 Belle Epoque-style building. The two-Michelin-starred restaurant, Parc, is one of the most famous in France… and that’s saying something. Multi-course lunches in the Louis XV-style dining room last for hours. All the better to try the chef’s “discovery” menu with such seasonal specialties as pan-seared Scottish grouse with beetroot and celery; or sautéed hare with pumpkin and local mustard. In the meantime, you can drink your way through a Bible-length wine list with over 600 champagnes cellared away.
9. Farmhouse Inn, California
This Russian River Valley redoubt is a well-kept secret among NorCal’s well-heeled oenophiles. The main inn is housed in an 1872 farmhouse (hence the name), with nine more suites in the former worker’s quarters. But there’s nothing low-brow about the Farmhouse Inn. Rooms have theme-appropriate accents like antique farming tools on the walls, nature prints, old-fashioned saloon-style desk lamps, and even weather veins. Bathrooms are done in white marble with glassed-in walk-in showers and separate oversize spa tubs. Some even have their own private saunas. The hotel also has a little spa, pool, and an herb garden that supplies both the spa and the Michelin-rated restaurant for dishes like American bison carpaccio with marinated matsutake mushrooms, sunchoke chips, and minutina greens.
10. L’and Vineyards, Portugal
With cerulean skies, crisp nights, sun-splashed whitewashed villages, and vineyards stretching as far as the eye can see, Portugal’s under-the-radar Alentejo must be one of Europe’s most indelible landscapes — one that is made even more special by the addition of the new angular architectural wonder L'and Vineyards designed by Brazilian architect, Marcio Kogan. Sitting lakeside amidst rolling vineyards and groves of citrus and olive trees, the main building entices guests with a Roman-style atrium, a large library and living room, a Caudalie Vinothérapie spa, and a gift shop selling bespoke L’andmade products… not to mention a wine cellar and tasting room, of course. Though you can opt for a kitted-out villa, the true standout experience here are the resort’s Sky Suites, which have retractable ceilings for prime nighttime stargazing as you drift off to sleep. They also offer private gardens and plunge pools for relaxing before dinner in the on-property Michelin-starred restaurant. Afterwards, settle in on the terrace of your villa, with its own roaring fireplace and views of the nearby medieval hilltop village of Montemor–o-Novo.
11. Castillo Gredic, Slovenia
No, not Transylvania. Not Slovakia. Slovenia! Yes, this tiny nation tucked between Italy and Croatia (and Austria and Hungary) is actually home to one of Europe’s most exciting up-and-coming wine scenes. The biggest hotspot happens to be the region of Goriska Brda near the Italian border, where they’re famous for a white wine called Rebula. Taste your fill of it, and many of the country’s other award-winning vintages, at a hilltop castle-cum-hotel originally built 400 years ago: Castillo Gredic. These days, the tower is a twisty staircase and the state rooms are suites, but all the contemporary comforts (and conversation pieces) abound, including ceiling-mounted swinging loveseats, minimalistic four-poster beds, and an infinity pool taking in sweeping views of the surrounding vineyards. Reserve a dinner table at one of the restaurant’s cozy alfresco tables to enjoy down-home specialties like homemade ravioli filled with braised beef and Yamar goat cheese aged in special caves just north of Trieste paired with a Simcic Pinot Noir.
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