Late summer and early autumn, when most wine producers begin harvesting the season’s vintage, are some of the most exciting weeks of the year for oenophiles.
It is a crucial time—grape ripeness and quality are determined and wineries are at their busiest.
For vino enthusiasts eager to witness the action, vineyard estates offer luxury accommodations that allow guests to soak up the sights and smells of a vineyard running at full speed. (And, blissfully, a glass of wine is never far away.)
The styles are varied. L’And Vineyards, located in Portugal’s Alentejo region, opened last spring right around the time its very first vintage (a 2009 Reserve) hit the market. Situated just 15 minutes from the ancient Roman city of Évora (and less than an hour from Lisbon), the vineyard’s stylish digs and simple, warmly appointed suites capitalize on the area’s serenity.
Retractable over-the-bed roofs offer stunning nighttime views of star-lit skies, and outdoor fireplace-equipped patios look out over greenery and patches of farmland. “Wine is our anchor, but it works best when paired with everything else on the property,” says Duarte Cunha, L’And’s general manager.
In Temecula, California, longtime small producer Ponte Winery takes a similar approach. It utilizes the vineyard´s natural surroundings to create a scenic, wine-driven space for guests to take advantage of wine tastings and see firsthand how the winemaking process works. The folks behind Ponte realized that their most ardent clients—the same people who pushed for the opening of the hotel—would appreciate a place to unwind from their busy city lives and indulge in their passion for wine right at the source.
For the uninitiated, staying at a wine-focused resort can be the perfect opportunity to learn more. The months-old Loisium Wine & Spa Resort in Suedsteiermark, Austria, offers traveling revelers a glimpse into a burgeoning vino destination that is just beginning to gain international repute.
The property doesn’t make its own wine, but its proximity to some of the country’s most exciting, undiscovered producers makes it an invaluable resource for those seeking future industry stars.
Cheers to that.
Argos in Cappadocia, Uçhisar, Turkey
With its dramatic, cave-like architecture and hillside location, Argos in Cappadocia is the perfect perch from which to discover the country’s central region, which teems with tales of centuries-old civilizations (the hotel itself is built into an ancient monastery).
Guests here can also learn about Turkey’s lesser-known winemaking efforts. In its nearby vineyard, Argos harvests Syrah and Kalecik Karasi (a local Pinot Noir–like varietal) grapes, and small Muscat grape patches on terraces around the property are visible from public spaces like the lounge balcony. Rooms, from $200; Uçhisar; 90-384/219-3130; argosincappadocia.com.
L’And Vineyards, Évora, Portugal
At L’And Vineyards, it is nearly impossible to have anything but an all-wine-all-the-time experience. The vineyard is home to one of Portugal’s two Caudalie Vinothérapie spas, navigating the property requires walking past planted grapevines (even the infinity pool is surrounded by them), wine classes are held in the cellar and guests can choose their own grapes to eat or use for spa treatments.
The staff is also happy to arrange other non-wine activities, such as a trip to Alqueva Lake—the largest in Europe—or a guided tour of historic Évora, so the only time contact is made with the nectar of the gods is when drinking it. Rooms, from $245; Estrada Nacional 4, Herdade das Valadas; 351-266/242-400; l-andvineyards.com.
Babylonstoren, Stellenbosch, South Africa
If you are craving New World wines from the southern hemisphere, remember that the growing season is the opposite of up north: You will need to wait until March to experience a harvest in wine capitals like Argentina or Australia. The same goes for Babylonstoren in South Africa’s Drakenstein Valley.
The well-preserved 320-year-old werf, or farmyard, is ideal for all-encompassing rural adventures, including walks amid chickens, scenic hikes or canoe trips across the farm’s dam. The year-old property harvested its first grapes last year and is now in the process of bottling its first wines, so guests here are able to taste what is not yet available anywhere else, like winemaker Charl Coetzee’s Chenin Blanc, Viognier and Chardonnay. Rooms, from $350; Drakenstein Valley; 27-21/863-3852; babylonstoren.com.
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