Wine tasting is no longer the exclusive domain of the rich and privileged. With a number of vineyards, wineries and estates being turned into tasteful lodges, wine country has just gotten a lot more accessible. Here are five great wine country hotels from around the world to add to your bucket list.
Domaine des Hauts de Loire, Onzain, France
With chef Rémy Giraud at the helm, this 19th-century hunting lodge and the land it stands on covers 178 acres of forested land. Guests who want to see the neighboring castles, vineyards and historic cities can do so via private helicopter or hot-air balloon.
The hotel is located near the Loire Valley wine route which at 800 kms is the longest in France. Covered in ivy and and finished with antiques the lodge exudes an old world charm but stocked with flawlessly adds a contemporary element to the experience. The best time to visit wineries in France would be from March to June and October-November.
Four Seasons, Florence, Italy
Located in the jewel of the Renaissance movement, Florence, and built into a structure that has been around since the 15th century, the Four Seasons, is opulent in every sense of the word. The celebrated Chianti region is easily accessible from the resort that is replete with frescoes and an on-site winery restaurant. Florence is hot and humid in July and August and cold from November to March. May or October though is the best time to visit.
San Ysidro Ranch, Santa Barbara, CA
This list would not be complete without a mention of the original wine country, California. Set on 500-acres at the foothills of the Santa Ynez Mountains, San Ysidro Ranch is a resort with 41 vine-covered cottages and suites. Located in Santa Barbara’s most beautiful valleys, it is one hour from Santa Ynez Valley that’s famous for its Chardonnay and Rhône varietals. Spring is the best time to visit as wine tastings in the area are amazing.
Le Quartier Français, Franschhoek, South Africa
Rose and jasmine gardens add to the gorgeousness of the scenery in this 22-room resort in the heart of the South African winelands. Dozens of wineries known for Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc surround this hotel that takes the lead in arranging non-traditional wine-related activities. “Grapes and art” tours, “history, grapes, and charcuterie” classes and even a custom wine-blending class at its family vineyard in Môreson is what you can expect. March, April and October are the best times to visit.
The Yeatman Hotel – Porto, Portugal
Located on the Duoro river in Porto, the birth place of port wine, the Yeatman Hotel takes its wine very seriously. Wine tasting sessions, wine seminars and wine dinners(!) hosted by reputed wine makers from around the world is one of the highlights of this hotel. Portuguese wines coupled with sumptuous Portuguese food is a must-do for wine enthusiasts. Portugal experiences moderate climate the year round but My to September is the best time to visit.