By Tiffany Ryes – International Banker
Going to another place and discovering breathtaking sceneries are just half of what makes travel so exciting and spectacular. Experiencing the tastes and flavours of the region, whatever the place may be, as well as immersing oneself in the finest in gustatory delights are what make every luxury vacation so much more exceptional and unforgettable.
For every discerning wine enthusiast, a trip to any place anywhere in the world should have all the essentials: splendid vineyards, magnificent landscapes and, of course, top-notch vino. After all, nothing beats sipping a glass of Shiraz or Chardonnay while overlooking stretches of wondrous vineyards in exclusive properties that offer an inspiring feast for the senses and the soul.
Vina Vik (Cachapoal Valley, Chile)
Standing out as a gleaming gem perched on a hilltop, Vina Vik is a new, ultra-modern 11-acre property at the edge of Chile’s Cachapoal Valley. Vina Vik boasts the best in wine-centric vacations for wealthy wine lovers, art collectors, hoteliers and jet-setters with discriminating tastes.
Like stepping onto the set of a futuristic movie, Vina Vik offers a wine experience unlike any other. It is clear that for Norwegian billionaire Alexander Vik, the property is a culmination of the science, technology, knowledge, passion and art of wine-making—from determining where to plant the rootstocks to the creation of the perfect complex blend.
A view of the fermentation tanks through a glass-floored room welcomes guests, and they are also afforded a visually impressive view of a “mirror of water” on the roof of the winery, which serves as a cooling system for the barrel room located beneath. On daily wine tours and tastings, guests can get a lesson on the basics of precision viticulture. Tastings include three barrel tastings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Carmenere, as well as a tasting of a special vintage VIK wine.
If all that is not enough, Vina Vik also offers horseback-riding, bike trips, trekking and guided tours. At the end of the day, world-class luxury accommodations await. The exclusive Cabin at VIK offers the most intimate retreat for wine enthusiasts who want a relaxed and private stay in a charming Chilean vineyard home.
Babylonstoren (South Africa)
One of the oldest and most historic Cape Dutch farms, Babylonstoren offers guests the most discerning food and wine lovers a farm-to-table experience unlike any other. This stunning property, inspired by the mythical garden of Babylon, spans 250 hectares of vineyards and a working fruit farm, as well as eight acres of a formal French kitchen garden. An hour’s drive from South Africa’s capital, Cape Town, Babylonstoren is the perfect setting for the ultimate in luxury wine-tasting vacations.
But that’s not all. Its 12 sophisticated cabins offer a unique charm that harks back to the old Dutch life on the Cape, with 13 whitewashed cottages transforming into top-notch accommodations. From the elegant gables completing the farmhouse exterior to the hearty fireplaces and modern fittings inside, guests can enjoy an authentic farmstead experience plus all the sophisticated comforts of a five-star hotel. Each cottage has an open layout that showcases luxurious amenities such as private access to an outdoor swimming pool, sauna, salt room and many more. The hotel and cottages are a sheer, luxurious marriage of 17th century Dutch architecture and 21st century indulgence.
For anyone who appreciates a farm-to-fork approach to food, Babylonstoren’s flagship restaurant Babel picks produce fresh from their gardens and designs their daily menu around what is in season. The meals can then be paired off with a glass of superb wine from the property’s very own wine cellar, as guests look out at the well-manicured vineyards throughout the property.
Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco (Tuscany, Italy)
From historic cities to medieval hill towns, breathtaking beaches to serene countrysides, Tuscany has it all. One of the oldest Tuscan estates that many well-heeled wine and food enthusiasts would highly recommend, however, is the luxurious, well-preserved estate set on a World Heritage Site—Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco.
An 800-year old property with more than 4,000 acres of vineyards sitting on Val d’Orcia, Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco is a picture-perfect place for wine lovers who appreciate tasting a good glass of wine right where it’s made. This deluxe getaway is a treasure trove of history, heritage and archaeological finds. This makes the estate perfect for those in search of a wine home-away-from-home that is deeply rooted in its colourful past yet in tune with what the present and future has to offer.
Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco offers a wine-and-dine experience to be remembered for a lifetime as guests enjoy a world-class wine retreat that overlooks ancient castle ruins, a medieval church and the Borco, a historic village at the heart of the estate.
The suites and villas offer top-of-the-line comfort that harmonizes beauty, history and modern luxury as it boasts of stone, wood, antique, handcrafted and bespoke furnishings and fixtures. Guests can also enjoy private access to the heated pool, home theatre and tennis court right from their six-bedroom farmhouse-style villa.
The star of the show, however, is the wine made from scrupulously selected Sangiovese grapes. Rosso di Montalcino or Prima Pietra wines and other varieties can be enjoyed with dishes expertly prepared by the executive chef, Enrico Figliuolo.
Farmhouse Inn (Russian River Valley, California)
Pouring prestigious wines, Sonoma County is the quintessential wine country. A must-visit property here, among the 400 wineries to explore, is the exceptional, multi-awarded boutique hotel Farmhouse Inn. Located just south of Healdsburg in the Russian River Valley, this six-acre family-owned property has received many accolades as it offers the best in both the warmth from its fifth-generation Sonoma County winemaker owners as well as the hospitality and features that can easily compete with or even exceed those of any five-star hotel.
The Farmhouse Inn features 25 luxuriously appointed rooms, which includes six suites that merge country-chic décor with sophisticated amenities. With pure luxury and comfort in mind, the suites and cottages offer nothing short of the best, from the feather-topped beds to the jetted tubs, and all with painstaking attention to detail.
The main house, an authentic 19th-century farmhouse, is the perfect setting for any wine enthusiast wanting a fitting refuge from days of exploring California vineyards. For someone who desires to just get away from it all with a bottle of exceptional California wine, the inn also offers a tranquil retreat for sitting back with a glass of Pinot Noir or Chardonnay; but also a dining experience from the Michelin-starred Farmhouse Restaurant. The sublime dishes, prepared by Chef Steve Litke, are designed to go with what’s in season, yet every plate is sure to have superb and masterful wine pairings from a top-notch assembly of world-class wines.
For a deeper, more immersive farmhouse experience, guests can also explore neighbouring towns and wineries by biking, hiking, and boating, affording an exquisite wine-lovers’ vacation nestled smack in the centre of the best wineries in both Sonoma and Napa.
There’s nothing as enchanting as sitting back with a good glass of wine, watching the sun set over stretches of precision-maintained vineyards in one of the world’s greatest wine regions. After all, tasting wine is a trip in itself, and visiting the places where the grapes of these wines were grown just adds more magic to the experience.
So from a seasoned wine enthusiast to someone who is just discovering the fine world of wines, the best destination would always include a good balance of food, scenery, luxury and, of course, an awe-inspiring celebration of wine.