Six of the best wine-tasting retreats

Rae White
·5-min read
Photo credit: Q Communications
Photo credit: Q Communications

With travel now feeling more a reality, we can all finally start planning some much-longed-for escapes. During the time spent at home during the pandemic, many of us have had time to discover more about our favourite wines from the comfort of our sofas and gardens, but there’s no substitute for seeking out the source.

AUSTRALIA

A taste of South Australia in the Barossa when borders re-open

Photo credit: John Kruger
Photo credit: John Kruger

We can’t eat inside at our favourite restaurant, attend festivals or go on an exotic holiday right now. So, many of us have been investing in high-end wines to lift lockdown spirits. South Australia makes some of the world’s best and the vineyard city of Adelaide is surrounded by more than 200 cellar doors that are within an hour’s drive. One of our favourites is Henschke’s Hill of Grace 2001, which you can order online from Harvey Nichols for £695 a bottle.

Photo credit: Nat Rogers
Photo credit: Nat Rogers

We look forward to the day when we can drink this delicious Shiraz under big sunny Australian skies. Stephen Henschke is a fifth-generation wine-maker and custodian of some of Australia’s oldest vineyards. The team at Henschke offer a Hill of Grace Experience which gives access to their historic working winery and culminates in an incredible private tasting. As well as trying Hill of Grace guests will taste some of Henschke’s other fabulous wines – some of which are available in the UK at Laithwaite’s.

Photo credit: John Kruger
Photo credit: John Kruger

Sleeping over in the Barossa region adds to the experience and a two- or three-day stay provides the opportunity to explore this exciting food-and-wine paradise. Top tips for accommodation would be the Louise, one of the Luxury Lodges of Australia; or Hutton Vale – a gorgeous two-bedroom villa on the Angas family’s working vineyard, which has its own airstrip for those wanting to fly in privately.

For more information visit www.southaustralia.com.

JAPAN

Sake by the inland sea in Setouchi

Photo credit: Q Communications
Photo credit: Q Communications

Gokyo is a refined sake that is known for having a rounded taste and is made in Iwakuni’s Sakai Brewery, Yamaguchi Prefecture. The brewery uses a mixture of modern and traditional techniques, including the use of wooden barrels.

Photo credit: Q Communications
Photo credit: Q Communications

Terroir is the heart of Gokyo sake – a term referring to the soil, field rice crops and the climate. Everything that helps produce and make the drink must be born from Yamaguchi’s environment; the rice from its rice paddies, the water from its river and the local brewers and workers from Yamaguchi town. Gokyo sake is often enjoyed looking over the Kintai Bridge (one of Japan’s three most famous bridges) and is often paired with delicious appetisers from the Seto Inland Sea. Stay at Kintaikyo Ryokan located on the bank of Kintai Bridge.

ITALY

Live la dolce vita in a vineyard under the Tuscan sun

Photo credit: Q Communications
Photo credit: Q Communications

Hotel Borgo San Felice in Tuscany epitomises “la dolce vita” with its copious cellars and 140 hectares of surrounding vineyards. Founded in about the eighth-century and having barely changed since, Borgo San Felice remains one of the most charming sites in Chianti and was only transformed into a hotel a decade ago.

Photo credit: Stefano Scatà
Photo credit: Stefano Scatà

This Relais & Chateaux property comprises an entire mediaeval hamlet, including an old chapel, plus a large pool and wellness centre to complement the wine and ease you back into the real world. Producing an outstanding selection of sangiovese grapes, the Poggio Rosso is one of San Felice’s signature drops. It’s best to book quickly, as the wine is produced in limited quantities. And where better to sip it than under the Tuscan sun?

USA

Californian chardonnay dreaming

Photo credit: CHRISTIAN HORAN PHOTOGRAPHY
Photo credit: CHRISTIAN HORAN PHOTOGRAPHY

The newly opened Montage Healdsburg is located in the heart of California’s world-renowned wine country in Sonoma County. Situated among 22,000 carefully preserved oak trees and vine-covered hills, this transformative hideaway is brimming with natural beauty and expansive outdoor spaces. The 130 bungalow-style guest rooms feature a contemporary, wine country aesthetic with an environmentally sensitive design, built within the natural topography of the surrounding landscape. The property also has a 11,500-square-foot spa, a zero-edge pool, and three restaurants inspired by the region’s culinary heritage.

Photo credit: Peter Michael
Photo credit: Peter Michael

Peter Michael Knights Valley Estate is nearby and it will be resuming its tours and tasting appointments upon reopening. Under normal circumstances, private members and waiting list members are invited to visit by appointment. Tours and tastings are led by a trained sommelier and cost $100 a person, 100 per cent of which is donated to local and national charities

SOUTH AMERICA

Salud with an Argentinean view

Photo credit: Erick Prillwitz
Photo credit: Erick Prillwitz

Situated in the heart of Argentina’s famous wine-producing region and surrounded by many other well-known Argentinean wineries, Cavas Wine Lodge overlooks 35 acres of vines and the magnificent snow-capped Andes beyond. The heart of the lodge is its wine cellar from which its name is derived.

Photo credit: Q Communications
Photo credit: Q Communications

Atmospheric and deeply aromatic, it is packed with some of the finest examples of Argentinean wine. Exclusively for A&K guests, private wine tasting is offered in the lodge’s wine cava during your stay.

FRANCE

Cheers to the Château

Photo credit: Q Communications
Photo credit: Q Communications

For fans of Malbec that may not be able to make the trip to South America for some time, the origins of this great grape can be discovered a little closer to home in France. Château de Mercuès, Cahors is a magnificent 13th-century property, built on a rocky promontory overlooking the Lot valley, that served as the summer residence of the counts and bishops of Cahors for seven centuries.

Photo credit: Jerome Morel
Photo credit: Jerome Morel

The impressive wine list includes the Malbecs and other vintages produced in the château’s very own wine cellars, thanks to the property owner, Mr Vigouroux, who was formerly the wine-grower.

UK

Soaking in the staycations

Photo credit: Q Communications
Photo credit: Q Communications

And if staycations are the way forward for you for a little longer, there’s an easy way to travel around the world with wine, without leaving the country. With a 30,000-strong wine list, the Vineyard in Berkshire offers an abundance of grapes and great alfresco options to sit back and sip in the good old British summer. The Pavilion reopened on 12 April – as did the wine cellar!