A re-vamp of what was previously the Aquapura hotel, Six Senses Douro Valley opened in July this year, with 57 bedrooms, a vast spa, and an extensive wine program that ties in with the restaurant’s ethos of championing local produce. A must-visit for fans of Portuguese wines, the 19th-century estate on the banks of the Douro River has been designed with sustainability at its heart. Chef Paulo Matos uses organic vegetables from the hotel’s kitchen garden to make his wood-fired specialities, while a wine library (shown in the top image) serves locally inspired tapas alongside a wide range of wines. Guests can also sign up for tours of nearby wineries, or one of the resort’s nightly wine tastings.
If you’re feeling flash, specialist riding holiday operator, Ranch Rider, launched heli-wine tasting tours in British Columbia earlier this year. Based at Siwash Lake Luxury Guest Ranch, oenophile guests can fly over the mighty Fraser River, then follow it south over steep valley walls, rapids and grasslands for hiking and wine tasting at the Fort Berens Winery in Lillooet. Returning to the ranch there’s a chance to saddle up and enjoy unlimited riding across 80,000 acres of private terrain… or just to wallow in the resort’s Sigh-wash Spa.
Not everyone wants to book a whole week of vineyard visits and tastings. If you’re not sure a full-on wine holiday is for you, or you just fancy a wine tour as part of a wider holiday in South Africa, try Bikes ‘n’ Wines in the Western Cape. The company runs trips of various lengths, from half-day tours to multi-day itineraries. New for this year, as part of its one-day Franschhoek tour is a chance to try Turkish Delight wine pairing and biltong wine pairing (fortunately not together) at La Bri Wine Estate.
Having previously worked as a cycling guide and written a travel book about food, Tom Kevill-Davies combined his passions, buying a 17th century watermill in Burgundy and renovating it (and its garden) as a guesthouse. Opened earlier this year as The Hungry Cyclist Lodge, the beautifully designed five-bedroom B&B also makes the most of Tom’s passion for cooking, serving produce fresh from his garden and orchards, and offering add-on wine tours, cellar visits, wine festival trips and tastings.
It may have opened at the very end of 2014 but, for anyone thinking of making a pilgrimage to Bordeaux after the September grape harvests, this will be their first chance to try out Joel Robuchon and Bernard Magrez’s La Grande Maison in Bordeaux, and its impressive wine cellar (its 259 bottles include all the Grands Crus Classés from Bordeaux). If you’re after a low-key French hotel this isn’t for you: formalities stretch to a battalion of waiters in the restaurant, little pouffes for handbags and a whole bread trolley rather than a basket. But, for many guests, the exquisite food, celebrated cellar and elaborately floral and tasselled bedrooms, are what make the experience a once-in-a-lifetime affair.
Published August 2015
You might also like
Best English vineyard breaks: 2015
The Vineyard Judgement of Paris review
The five hottest Mediterranean food trips for 2015
The best chain restaurants in the UK
The Napa Valley guide 2015: the best places to eat, drink and stay
Naples, Italy: Marina O’Loughlin’s best food and drink guide
Manhattan, New York: Marina O’Loughlin’s best food and drink guide
A weekend guide to Athens
Best European foodie holidays for 2015
Guide to Parma, Italy: where to eat on a budget