Photo: L’Auberge de Sedona
At Oregon’s Allison Inn & Spa, you can wake up to a view of Willamette Valley from your terrace, spend the afternoon sampling Pinot Noirs at local wineries, then retreat to the hotel spa for a “pinotherapy” treatment.That kind of immersive experience has earned Allison Inn the No. 4 ranking among wine country hotels, based on Travel + Leisure readers’ votes in the annual World’s Best Awards survey.
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The winners come in lots of varietals, from opulent hotels to cozy inns, and turn up in established wine regions (South Africa’s Franschhoek, Argentina’s Mendoza) and less-expected destinations like Arizona’s Verde Valley and the Mount Etna area of Sicily, where that volcanic soil can work wonders.
Napa Valley, CA, certainly has experience catering to the wine-focused traveller. “Our customers come here to experience wine country from head to toe,” says George Goeggel, managing partner of Auberge du Soleil in the Napa Valley, one of the area’s first boutique resorts. “We try to embody the wine country lifestyle in all aspects, from a glass of wine at reception to the local bottles on the menu to the crushed grapes in our spa treatments.”
That sentiment rings true in Santa Barbara, CA, as well. “We estimate that 94 per cent of our guests are wine lovers,” says Seamus McManus, managing director of San Ysidro Ranch, whose 1,600-bottle collection features an abundance of local labels. To satisfy their expectations, the hotel offers winery tours, hosts dinners with nearby vintners, and stocks local wines in each of its cottages.
Not to be left out, the East Coast has its own properties among this year’s winners. Virginia’s rolling hills nurture The Inn at Little Washington as well as Keswick Hall, decked out with hunt-club prints and Chippendale chairs and host of regular themed wine dinners.
Even select urban hotels have caught on to the interest in wine tourism and offer guided day trips to wineries within a short drive. The renovated Four Seasons, Firenze, occupies a glorious frescoed palazzo with a pool and an 11-acre park. It makes a refined base for guided excursions into Chianti, 40 minutes away, or for tastings at the hotel’s Winery restaurant (nearly 400 bottles at last count).
No matter which wine-country hotel you choose, one thing’s for sure: you won’t go home thirsty.
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The tiny hilltop town of Crillon le Brave lends its name to this 32-room medieval stone property with gardens, terraces, and spectacular views of vineyards and olive groves.
The concierge can arrange for day trips to the wineries of Côtes du Rhône and Châteauneuf-du-Pape (about half an hour away), known for their Syrahs, Marsannes, and Grenache noirs. Or simply enjoy a local bottle and take in the sweeping scenery from the romantic terrace at the hotel's restaurant.
This handsome 19th-century hunting lodge is covered in ivy vines, furnished with antiques, and occupies 178 forested acres along the wine route in Loir-et-Cher. The restaurant, overseen by chef Rémy Giraud, serves the Loire Valley's famed Vouvrays, Montlouises, and Touraines, though guests seeking a bird's-eye view of the region's châteaux can arrange for a private helicopter or hot-air balloon tour of neighbouring vineyards, castles, and ancient cities.
In the heart of the Champagne region, this 20-room Belle Époque château (a former family home) maintains an impeccable sense of classic style.
The wine cellar at the Michelin-starred restaurant counts 400 champagne labels, and the hotel can arrange visits to bold-faced sites like nearby Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin or the Moët et Chandon cellars, as well as the Notre Dame Cathedral.
The three former residences that make up this secluded hotel have a Provençal feel and dramatic countryside views from their perch atop a craggy hill. The region, between Avignon and the Rhône delta, is known for its Grenaches and Syrahs, many of them organic and biodynamic.
The cellar at L'Oustau's Michelin-starred restaurant overflows with an astonishing 60,000 bottles, including L'Affectif, the local Grenache blend created and produced by the hotel's proprietor, Jean-Andre Charial.
Built into the 15th-century Palazzo Scala della Gherardesca and a 16th-century former convent, the Four Seasons feels like an opulent resort, with glorious frescoes inside and a pool and adjacent 11-acre private park outside.
The on-site Winery restaurant counts nearly 400 bottles, and the concierge can arrange for tastings further afleld in the Chianti region--celebrated for its Super Tuscan and Chianti Classico wines--about 40 minutes away.
This sprawling 500-acre property at the foothills of the Santa Ynez Mountains was given a $150 million reinvestment in 2011, so each of the 41 vine-covered cottages and suites winding along San Ysidro's hilly, creek-lined paths looks better than ever.
It's an hour south of the Santa Ynez Valley, one of Santa Barbara's most picturesque viniculture areas, known for its Chardonnay and Rhône varietals.
Arizona's growing Verde Valley wine trail isn't far from this English countryside-style inn with a cozy atmosphere and pretty creek-side views.
Use it as a jumping-off point for exploring wineries in Sedona, Page Springs, Cottonwood, and Jerome (several independent wine tour operators can also pick you up from the hotel for daylong excursions). Or stay happily put at the property's newly refurbished indoor/outdoor wine bar and dining patio.
It's not often that an 18-room inn in a tiny town becomes a destination in its own right, but that's the case with the Inn at Little Washington, which also happens to be in the heart of Virginia wine country, celebrated for its Chardonnays and Cabernet Francs.
Star chef /owner Patrick O'Connell hand-picks local bottles for the acclaimed restaurant, and wine director Jennifer Knowles can suggest and help arrange several self-guided itineraries from the property, with the option for a local car service to chauffeur your group.
While golfers know this elegant 161-room resort for its legendary links, the Lodge's location near Monterey Wine Country makes it appealing to oenophiles as well.
The local Monterey Wine Trolley in downtown Monterey runs groups through popular wineries in the foggy, mountain-ringed Carmel Valley, 15 minutes away; for a more personalised experience, book a custom daylong wine tour with a dedicated driver.
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