It’s no secret that wine should be savoured, each note carefully appreciated. In celebration of our ruby anniversary, we’ve uncovered some of the world’s most sought-after vintages and the people and places that will show you how to enjoy them. Much like the art of slow travel, a good vintage will bring you into harmony both with yourself and with your surroundings, teaching you to hit pause for just a second. Words: Abi Prowse
Main Image: One&Only Cape Town
It’s easy to forget, gazing through the floor-to-ceiling windows of One&Only Cape Town’s Wine Loft and onto the rugged surface of Table Mountain, that you’re at the epicentre of one of the world’s most bustling cities. Housing over 5,000 bottles, you’ll find the most balanced and diverse wine collections on the continent sitting beside local producers and wineries. A private immersion with renowned sommelier Luvo Ntezo will take your knowledge and passion to the next level. Celebrated as the best young sommelier in South Africa, Luvo isn’t one for orthodox methods of wine tasting. His unique approach allows you to savour wine in a way that appeals to you, and with his help you can bring home your very own signature blend.
The epitome of barefoot chic, Gili Lankanfushi Maldives keeps a lesser-known secret beneath the white-gold sands and electric blues of the Maldivian Ocean. The Underground Wine Cellar is a vision in boho elegance, where a large piece of driftwood, once washed ashore, forms the striking table at the centre of the room. Surrounded by up to 10,000 bottles, the award-winning master sommeliers believe that each wine gives everyone a different, personal pleasure. These sommeliers can sense the occasion, atmosphere, and philosophy that you desire, pairing wines that seduce the palate and evoke emotion. You’ll return home relaxed and rejuvenated, with a deeper understanding of the hidden gems with which to stock your own cellar.
In many ways, a train journey is the ultimate homage to slow travel. Gliding through the heart of one of the top wine-growing regions in the world, the Napa Valley Wine Train is so much more than just a mode of transport. It’s a fine dining restaurant, a moving museum; the exquisitely restored vintage Pullman cars evoke the glamour and elegance of times gone by. With exclusive access to the homes of the globe’s greatest winemakers, expect private tours and tastings from vinters who have set the bar high in producing world-class wines. Your new finds can be paired with a private meal in the two-storey Vista Dome – with sweeping panoramic views from every angle it practically brings the lush Napa Valley inside.
Located just 45 miles from San Francisco, Sonoma Valley (the birthplace of California’s wine industry) is home to the nation’s best Pinot Noirs and sustainable organically-farmed wines. At its centre lies Farmhouse Inn: a boutique hotel with fine cooking, feather beds, and luxury wine refrigerators in each room. The five concierges have spent years cultivating friendships with locals and take great joy in introducing you personally to the proprietors of the wineries and their vintages. Whether it’s a hard-to-get reservation, an exclusive tasting appointment, or the right driver, they are always in-the-know. When you’re not delving into the world of phenomenal winemaking, you’ll be wandering the range of local farmers’ markets, food festivals, and art shows. It doesn’t get any better than this.
The Barossa Valley is as famous for its collection of 150 wineries as for its deep-rooted appreciation for the great outdoors. The valley is best experienced in slow motion; cycle the 40-kilometre Barossa Trail for the most picturesque route. Soak in the scents and sounds and entertain your tastebuds at the numerous cellar doors and quaint villages you pass. Nowhere will impress oenophiles more than a tour of Seppeltsfield, the Seppelt family estate, distillery, and underground cellars. Embark on a private tasting of the 100-year-old Para Vintage Tawny, believed to be part of the world’s only unbroken lineage of single vintage wines spanning more than 130 years. Sip a bottle from your birth year and walk slowly among the vines to fully appreciate Australia’s striking natural beauty.
The Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco is a romantic hideaway, settled within Tuscany’s UNESCO World Heritage site; here, slow living and simplicity takes you back in time to a medieval village. But there are plenty of modern touches: a golf course staffed by pros, a fitness program overseen by a triathlete, and, of course, a collection of rich red wines – notably the coveted Brunello di Montalcino, a ruby red that’s intense, elegant and steadfastly inspired by local tradition.
The Vertical Tasting experience is a must. Retrace every step in the art of winemaking, from grape to barrel. Extraordinary, educational, and completely private, you’ll enjoy six of the finest and most rare Brunello vintages, sensually paired with local Italian cheeses.
Nestled deep in the heart of the medieval village Megalochori, Vedema, a Luxury Collection Resort, houses a secret wine cave hidden beneath the dark volcanic soil of its 400-year-old winery and 100-year-old mansion. Here, you’ll be taken on a refined taste adventure with a private sampling of seven indigenous wines. But it’s when they are paired with local foods in a unique dining experience that the wine is at its most powerful, evoking the true, authentic spirit of Santorini. Chef Melina Chomata will teach you how fresh fish from the Aegean Sea, the island’s famous cherry tomatoes and Kalamata olives accentuate the wines in the Greek palate.