INDULGE YOUR THIRST FOR OPULENCE AND FINE WINE AT EXQUISITE VINEYARD RETREATS ACROSS THE GLOBE
BY AMANDA MCCOY
THE VINES RESORT AND SPA
Rising from the foothills of the Andes Mountains, this Shangri-La of the Mendoza desert is a superlative blend of provincial charm and modern sophistication. Sitting on 1,500 acres in the Uco Valley winemaking region, where the sun shines 300 days per year and average highs in August hover around 65, the resort is surrounded by a panorama of private vineyards and breathtaking landscapes. Hotel guests would need weeks to take advantage of all the activities; choose from horseback riding through the vine-shrouded countryside, enjoying a traditional asado feast in the Argentine sunshine, y fishing on the Rio Mendoza, star gazing, yoga, bicycling through the vineyards, or, and perhaps most notably, blending your own custom vino tinto. Lauded consultant winemaker Santiago Achával is onsite to be your guiding alchemist.
The villas are magnificent, spanning at least 1,000 square feet (1,979 square feet for a deluxe, 2,700 for a two bedroom) and beautifully constructed of wood and stone. Boasting floor-to-ceiling windows, each villa is soaked in natural light and offers sweeping views of the lush countryside and majestic mountain range. Added comforts include full modern kitchens, outdoor replaces, spa-inspired bathrooms, and intimate rooftop terraces.
Siete Fuegos, the resort’s signature restaurant, features award-winning Argentine fare from celebrity Chef Francis Mallmann, a local culinary hero. The cuisiner is extolled for his legendary asado feasts, which loosely translates to barbecue, but any Argentine will argue the tradition encompasses so much more than fresh meats on a grill. Think nine-hour slow-grilled ribeye cooked on an open flame, accompanied by a picnic of local seasonal vegetables, and paired with fabulous regional wines, of course.
Rates start at $770. Ruta Provincial 94, Kilometer 11, M5565, Mendoza, vinesresortandspa.com
HOTEL MARQUÉS DE RISCAL
With multicolored, wave-like roof panels, gravity-defying curves, and asymmetrical walls, the Hotel Marqués de Riscal is one of Spain’s most visually striking hotels. Its design boasts the unmistakable signature of the globally acclaimed architect Frank O. Gehry and brilliantly contrasts the rolling green hills of the surrounding La Rioja Alavesa wine region. The contemporary château is only one component of the City of Wine, the ambitious project that spans 100,000 square meters and houses the hotel, its cellars, two gourmet restaurants, a spa, wine bar, and more. The hotel is covered in cascading titanium and stainless steel, using colors of pink, gold, and silver to represent red wine, the mesh around the estate’s Reserva bottles, and the bottles’ capsules, respectively. When the hotel celebrated its grand opening in 2006, the distinguished guest list included the King of Spain himself.
There are 43 new-fashioned guest rooms and suites spread out over two wings. As with the hotel’s exterior, the rooms boast ultramodern design elements like zig-zag windows, vaulted ceilings, contemporary furniture, and tilted walls. The most upscale and exclusive suite, the Gehry Presidential Suite (starting around $1000 per night), is an architectural wonder. Feast on panoramic views of the historic town of Elciego and the distant Cantabrian Mountains while lounging in a 770-squarefoot oasis, featuring 12-foot ceilings, pale wood walls, and a sprawling private terrace. The bathroom is fit for royalty, crafted of luxurious black and green marble, and includes a deep soaking tub.
The two restaurants offer two distinct flavor experiences, depending on your appetite. 1860 Tradición is housed in a trendy, avant garde atmosphere (including an outdoor terrace with stellar views) and serves more casual, seasonal fare, while the Michelin starred Restaurante Marqués de Riscal offers truly decadent gustatory pleasures. At the latter, the staff guides diners through either a 14 or 21-course tasting menu, and an expert sommelier is on hand to prepare personalized wine pairings or make a recommendation. Our advice? Start with a Marqués de Riscal vintage, and go from there.
Rates start at $440. Calle Torrea Kalea, 1, 01340 Elciego, marquesderiscal.com
DELAIRE GRAFF ESTATE
Stellenbosch, South Africa
Stellenbosch, located about 30 miles east of Cape Town, is simply hypnotic. Wrapped by the steeply sloping Cape Vineyards (the largest wine-producing region in South Africa) and the nature reserves of Jonkershoek and Simonsberg, the charming enclave is composed of oak tree-lined blocks and artsy cafés, boutiques, and galleries. Located just on the edge of town, rising from the gentle slope of a mountain, the Delaire Graff Estate is the jewel of the region. In addition to luxurious hospitality and award-winning wines, the Winelands experience includes a sweeping art collection, the personal amassment of the estate’s owner and art collector Laurence Graff.
There are six different lodge types to choose from, each housing a private sundeck and heated plunge pool. For a not-so-modest small fortune, the Owner’s Lodge (starting at $21,900 per night) provides the pinnacle of South African luxury. The four-bedroom villa boasts separate living and dining rooms, study areas, a full kitchen, and massive sundeck with a 45-foot plunge pool and Jacuzzi.
Dining experiences at the estate rival the wine, with two exquisite restaurants that employ a “local and global” approach to menu curation. Fruits, vegetables, and herbs are picked from the resort’s proprietary gardens, while meats are ethically sourced from African farmers. The signature Delaire Graff Restaurant offers contemporary South African fare with a global spin, while Indochine specializes in pan-Asian fare served against the breathtaking backdrop of Table Mountain. After dinner, guests are encouraged to retreat to Vinoteque, the lavish wine-tasting room below the restaurant, for a nightcap.
Rates start at $980. Helshoogte Rd, Stellenbosch, 7602, delaire.co.za
THE YEATMAN HOTEL
Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal
The Douro Valley in the northern provinces of Portugal became an official appellation in 1756, making it the third oldest wine appellation on the entire European continent (though wine production in the region began thousands of years before). Its largest metropolis, the coastal city of Porto, was named after the region’s rich fortified wine, but just across the Douro River lies Vila Nova de Gaia, the true capital of Port wine production. Here, visitors will find dozens of historical lodges carved into the hillslopes where Port houses have aged their wines for more than 300 years. Nestled among them sits the Yeatman Hotel, a luxurious hilltop tribute to the region’s illustrious wine history, boasting lavishly-appointed accommodations, Michelin starred gastronomy, a world-class Caudalie spa, and the largest and most comprehensive cellar of Portuguese wines on the planet.
Because each of the hotel’s six stories is staggered along the hillside, panoramic views of the winding river and colorful skyline are visible at every turn. Nine different room and suite types are available, including a wine-themed presidential suite ($2,700 per night) that could unearth the oenophile in just about anyone. The two-bedroom, two-bathroom suite offers spectacular views from its 1,238-squarefoot terrace (complete with a private pool and garden) and even provides a golden telescope for clear days and starry nights. Thoughtful touches are everywhere, from the copper bathtub to the master bed, which was chiseled from a restored wooden Port barrel.
The resort’s two-star Michelin restaurant, the Yeatman Gastronomic Restaurant, is led by the venerated Chef Ricardo Costa and celebrates traditional Portuguese flavors with a modern spin. The seasonal eight-to-ten course tasting menu with wine pairings was designed to take diners on a culinary journey through Portugal’s diverse regions. The prix fixe menu is $190 per person with two optional (though highly recommended) wine supplements at an additional $79 or $190.
Rates start at $300. Rua do Choupelo, 4400-088 Vila Nova de Gaia, the-yeatman-hotel.com
AUBERGE DU SOLEIL
Napa Valley, California
From the Mayacamas Mountains to the west to the vineyard-dotted hills below, this hillside haven provides stunning visual spectacles from every angle. Nestled on a sunny olive grove and spanning 33 acres, the resort also features an intimate restaurant, where its Mediterrane an inspired cuisine has won 13 consecutive Michelin star awards, a 7,000-square-foot spa oasis, and an award-winning 15,000 bottle cellar. Whether you want to sip a local varietal or sample rare and exotic wines from around the world, your wish is the sommelier’s delightful command.
Each of the 50 guestrooms and suites is housed in a classic French maison, coalescing the spirits of two of the world’s superior wine regions. Since it would be practically sinful not to drink in the sights along with a glass of Cabernet, every room comes equipped with a private terrace, many offering an outdoor soaking tub. The most prestigious estates, freestanding private maisons ($5,325 per night), are spread out over 1,800 square feet of indoor and outdoor living and lounging space and feature al fresco bathtubs and rain showers (there’s an indoor tub and steam shower, too), two custom California king beds, a separate living area and replace, and sweeping views of the rolling valley. Additional perks include a welcome bottle of Dom Perignon upon arrival and the exclusive use of a Mercedes-Benz throughout your stay.
If the weather is pleasant (and when is it not in the Valley?), the hotel staff can arrange a personalized winery tour, an intimate dinner in the romantic Parc du Soleil, or a hot air balloon ride over the sun-kissed countryside.
Rates start at $875. 180 Rutherford Hill Rd, Rutherford, aubergeresorts.com/aubergedusoleil