Fully charged or deliciously mellow, the world is full of inspiring locations producing fantastic vintages and offering unique experiences for wine lovers.
Vila Vita Parc Resort & Spa, Portugal boasts its own wine estate and working farm, Herdade Dos Grous, a one hour drive inland from the beach resort, in the Alentejo. With almost 1,500 acres of vineyards, flowering gardens, olive and orange groves, it represents the current pioneering spirit of Portugal's wine-growing business like no other.
The passionate work of oenologist, Luis Duarte, is clear to see at the estate. Originating from the Douro, Luis has established himself as one of the most respected Alentejo wine consultants. He has revolutionised winemaking in the area with the amalgamation of indigenous grape varieties and ancient processes, whilst utilising the latest technology and developments in viticulture. Alentejo is home to old grape varieties such as Trincadeira or Arangonez and the region is known for its robust vintages due to the soil's content of lime, loam, sand and particularly magnesium.
With award-winning show jumping horses and stallions bred here, exploring the vineyards on horseback is a must and the best way to appreciate the beauty of the grounds. In our opinion, fine wine should always be accompanied by fine dining and both these things are likely to be at the very heart of your stay at Vila Vita Parc in the Algarve. Epicurean delights can be had at eight impressive restaurants, including a two Michelin-starred venue, supplied with vintages and fresh organically-grown produce from the estate. Wine tastings and pairings are also available in the fabulous arched wine cellar, Cave de Vinhos, located 26 feet below the ground.
Another region that could be considered a little off the beaten track of the more renowned wine routes, is Overberg in South Africa. Nestled between the Garden Route and the Cape Peninsula, the southernmost vineyards in the continent can be found in this area. The slower ripening of grapes (due to the maritime climate) really sets the wines of the region apart. Grootbos Private Nature Reserve is the ideal base to venture through the charming rural towns to discover these wine-pockets.There are three different tours that allow guests to take in this fairly new wine region and spend time with the practiced farmers and, in addition, Grootbos is a superb venue to sample the local blend.
Find the intimate wine cellar by descending down a vanilla-scented candlelit staircase, where resident sommelier, Eben, is on hand to take you through the extensive menu. Opt for the gastronomical six-course food pairing accompanied with commentary by executive chef, Benjamin; it's reinvented every day should you want to indulge more than once during your stay.
Laurence Graff Reserve 2011: Delaire Graff 's most memorable, sophisticated vintage claret. Silky and smooth, the flavour is dominated by tangy, ripe, almost over-ripe red berries together with brambles and cassis.
Heading further north into the Cape Winelands - South Africa's most prestigious wine region - and also celebrating both old and new methods similar to Vila Vita Parc, is the state-of-the-art winery at Delaire Graff Estate. Nestled between mountains, the lodges here offer beautifully dramatic views overlooking the steep sloping vineyards of Stellenbosch.
Join resident wine maker, Morné Vrey, a passionate and accomplished expert in the field, for a private tasting of the Delaire Graff wines. Morné's vision is a simple one: honest, authentic winemaking that captures the natural flavours and intensity of the grapes without over manipulation. Retreat to the dedicated wine lounge; it's a wonderful space scattered with pieces of art from owner, Laurence Graff's personal collection, and with the most breathtaking, uninterrupted views of the valley.
Moving even deeper into the Cape Winelands, Franschhoek is arguably the foodie capital of South Africa and on many a connoisseurs' wish lists of places to visit. The wine tram tour is the ideal way to explore the 300 year history of the area. A unique open-sided tram rolls through picturesque estates, stopping at some of the country's oldest and most distinguished vineyards for complimentary tastings. Mont Rochelle, Sir Richard Branson's most recently opened retreat in Africa, is one of the stops, and rightly so as the quality of the wine here is incredible and exceptionally good value. The annual Franschhoek Uncorked Festival, takes place during the last weekend in September, where a number of wine farms open their doors for free tastings of the new vintage.
For experiences a little more tropical, Curtain Bluff in Antigua boasts one of the finest cellars in the Caribbean. George the sommelier has trained in France and the California wine country and carefully selects wines from ten countries around the world. Stocked with the likes of Chateau Petrus 1997 and Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1990, the cellar here is not just a gallery and all wines are available to purchase. Be sure to stop over in the tasting room on a Friday afternoon for George's wine tastings.
One of the first luxury hotels on the island, Curtain Bluff has always been made to feel like you are staying in the home of a personal friend, extremely relaxed and welcoming. Thoughts of far-flung atolls don't necessarily conjure images of extensive wine collections; yet Conrad Maldives Rangali Island both surprises and impresses with the country's first underground wine cellar. As you enter, you are at once struck by the amber-lit floorto- ceiling frames holding an exceptionally impressive 20,000 bottles that surround the room. On either Tuesday or Friday evenings, up to 12 guests can take part in interactive lessons and tastings with the sommelier, complete with personal video screens rising up from the central table. At other times before or after dinner, choose the cheese and wine bar - hand-picked by the resort's Maître de Fromage, it is stocked with 101 of the best cheeses from around the globe. After stepping through soft white sand throughout the resort, the most noticeable feature in the room is the contrasting black volcanic sand floor, imported from New Zealand. With the widest choice of dining compared to any other resort in the Maldives, Conrad offers a gastronomic variety for any traveller with a refined palate and an appreciation of fine wines.
Annabelle Dupont, Retail Editor & Events Director at Brides Magazine: "Curtain Bluff is fabulous for foodies - it's all inclusive and literally everything is included from scrumptious local conch ceviche to juicy fillet steak. Make sure you check out the hidden wine cellar to sample some seriously quaffable tipples, all ingeniously sourced by the in house sommelier George. Ask him for a private tour or join one of the Friday tastings - an extra cost but definitely well worth it for wine buffs."
Australia's oldest wineries
When it comes to premium cellar doors, the Barossa Valley, South Australia is home to some of Australia's oldest wineries. Kingsford Homestead makes the perfect retreat for wine buffs and sits on the North Para River. A map marked with famous historic local wineries is offered to guests looking to explore, as well as a few well-kept secrets where you can taste the regions boutique wines. .
Secret wine cellar: For those looking for a dramatic location for their wine pairings, we would recommend the Secret Wine Cave at Mystique in Greece. As exclusive and covert as it sounds, the 150 year old ancient wine cellar holds some of the rarest and indigenous wines to Santorini. Think low lights, cool brick walls, flickering candles and long-undisturbed bottles.
Art in the vineyard
A peaceful start to the day at Calistoga Ranch in Napa Valley, California can be had by creating your own landscape painting overlooking the vineyard with a one-on-one session with the resident artist. For those wanting more active pursuits, follow the journey from vine to bottle and visit during harvest season - gather grapes at the resort's Sotero vineyard, blend your own wine and learn bottling techniques from the winemakers.
New cellar in the Caribbean: For something a little more rustic, a new wine cellar at Petit St Vincent in The Grenadines is a welcome addition to this private island. With an already impressive menu and 4,500 bottles of both New World and Old World wines to choose from, the sommelier is continuously searching for newer and more interesting wines to add to the list. Low-key luxury at its best, a selection of Cognac-style rums from all over the Caribbean have also been collected, as have fine whiskeys and Cuban cigars.
Tour medieval tunnels
The neglected medieval village of Il Borro in Tuscany, Italy was discovered by Ferruccio, son of the famous shoemaker Salvatore Ferragamo whilst out hunting in the 1980s. After initiating a winemaking revival in 1995, the vineyards and cellars are now the beating heart of the estate. The wine tour is exceptional; with the cellar and underground tunnels that are a unique (if slightly chilly!) setting for wine tastings. Ferruccio even has a personal wine-themed art collection in the Galleria.