Late summer and early autumn, when most wine producers begin harvesting the season's vintage, are some of the most exciting weeks of the year for oenophiles. It is a crucial time--grape ripeness and quality are determined and wineries are at their busiest. For vino enthusiasts eager to witness the action, vineyard estates offer luxury accommodations that allow guests to soak up the sights and smells of a vineyard running at full speed. (And, blissfully, a glass of wine is never far away.)
The styles are varied. L'And Vineyards, located in Portugal's Alentejo region, opened last spring right around the time its very first vintage (a 2009 Reserve) hit the market. Situated just 15 minutes from the ancient Roman city of Évora (and less than an hour from Lisbon), the vineyard's stylish digs and simple, warmly appointed suites capitalize on the area's serenity. Retractable over-the-bed roofs offer stunning nighttime views of star-lit skies, and outdoor fireplace-equipped patios look out over greenery and patches of farmland. "Wine is our anchor, but it works best when paired with everything else on the property," says Duarte Cunha, L'And's general manager.
In Temecula, California, longtime small producer Ponte Winery takes a similar approach. It utilizes the vineyard´s natural surroundings to create a scenic, wine-driven space for guests to take advantage of wine tastings and see firsthand how the winemaking process works. The folks behind Ponte realized that their most ardent clients--the same people who pushed for the opening of the hotel--would appreciate a place to unwind from their busy city lives and indulge in their passion for wine right at the source.
For the uninitiated, staying at a wine-focused resort can be the perfect opportunity to learn more. The months-old Loisium Wine & Spa Resort in Suedsteiermark, Austria, offers traveling revelers a glimpse into a burgeoning vino destination that is just beginning to gain international repute. The property doesn't make its own wine, but its proximity to some of the country's most exciting, undiscovered producers makes it an invaluable resource for those seeking future industry stars. Cheers to that.
<a href="http://www.departures.com/slideshows/worlds-best-wine-resorts/2" target="_hplink">See More of the World's Best Wine Resorts Here</a><br><br> With its dramatic, cave-like architecture and hillside location, Argos in Cappadocia is the perfect perch from which to discover the country’s central region, which teems with tales of centuries-old civilizations (the hotel itself is built into an ancient monastery). Guests here can also learn about Turkey’s lesser-known winemaking efforts. In its nearby vineyard, Argos harvests Syrah and Kalecik Karasi (a local Pinot Noir–like varietal) grapes, and small Muscat grape patches on terraces around the property are visible from public spaces like the lounge balcony. Rooms, from $200; Uçhisar; 90-384/219-3130; <a href="http://argosincappadocia.com" target="_hplink">argosincappadocia.com</a>.
<a href="http://www.departures.com/slideshows/worlds-best-wine-resorts/3" target="_hplink">See More of the World's Best Wine Resorts Here</a><br><br> At L’And Vineyards, it is nearly impossible to have anything but an all-wine-all-the-time experience. The vineyard is home to one of Portugal’s two Caudalie Vinothérapie spas, navigating the property requires walking past planted grapevines (even the infinity pool is surrounded by them), wine classes are held in the cellar and guests can choose their own grapes to eat or use for spa treatments. The staff is also happy to arrange other non-wine activities, such as a trip to Alqueva Lake—the largest in Europe—or a guided tour of historic Évora, so the only time contact is made with the nectar of the gods is when drinking it. Rooms, from $245; Estrada Nacional 4, Herdade das Valadas; 351-266/242-400; <a href="http://l-andvineyards.com" target="_hplink">l-andvineyards.com</a>.
<a href="http://www.departures.com/slideshows/worlds-best-wine-resorts/4" target="_hplink">See More of the World's Best Wine Resorts Here</a><br><br> If you are craving New World wines from the southern hemisphere, remember that the growing season is the opposite of up north: You will need to wait until March to experience a harvest in wine capitals like Argentina or Australia. The same goes for Babylonstoren in South Africa’s Drakenstein Valley. The well-preserved 320-year-old werf, or farmyard, is ideal for all-encompassing rural adventures, including walks amid chickens, scenic hikes or canoe trips across the farm’s dam. The year-old property harvested its first grapes last year and is now in the process of bottling its first wines, so guests here are able to taste what is not yet available anywhere else, like winemaker Charl Coetzee’s Chenin Blanc, Viognier and Chardonnay. Rooms, from $350; Drakenstein Valley; 27-21/863-3852; <a href="http://babylonstoren.com" target="_hplink">babylonstoren.com</a>.
<a href="http://www.departures.com/slideshows/worlds-best-wine-resorts/5" target="_hplink">See More of the World's Best Wine Resorts Here</a><br><br> Located in the southern reaches of Mendoza’s famed San Rafael wine region, Algodon’s guest lodges telegraph the simple, leisurely style of traditional Argentine estancias with roomy wrap-around patios that look out over the estate’s vineyard. In addition to taking in gorgeous views of the grapevines that dominate the horizon, guests can go horseback riding or play a round of golf, each of which can be followed by a wine tasting and picnic. The award-winning winery even offers personalized wine through its unique barrel ownership program, where guests can work with Algodon’s professional winemakers to craft a barrel of wine in the cask type (American or French oak) and varietal of the guest’s choice. Rooms, from $225; Ruta Nacional 144, km 674; 54-926/0440-4594; <a href="http://algodonwineestates.com" target="_hplink">algodonwineestates.com</a>.
<a href="http://www.departures.com/slideshows/worlds-best-wine-resorts/6" target="_hplink">See More of the World's Best Wine Resorts Here</a><br><br> This five-year-old Relais & Châteaux property in Santa Cruz houses only four casitas, or villas, all staggered on the Apalta hills and offering a bird’s-eye view of the 1,600-acre vineyard below, where grapes for Lapostolle’s world-class wine, Clos Apalta, are harvested exclusively. Founded by the family behind Grand Marnier liqueur, Lapostolle is one of the few wineries where harvesting and de-stemming are still done by hand. Inside, the private suites are modern and tastefully accented with colors and patterns for a bit of South American flair. Rooms, from $1,000; Camino a Apalta, km 4, Valle de Colchagua; 56-72/953-360; <a href="http://lapostolle.com" target="_hplink">lapostolle.com</a>.
<a href="http://www.departures.com/slideshows/worlds-best-wine-resorts/7" target="_hplink">See More of the World's Best Wine Resorts Here</a><br><br> This months-old property (the second under the Loisium umbrella) is perfect for the adventurous oenophile looking to discover up-and-coming wine regions. Located just steps away from southern Styria’s vineyards that grow primarily Sauvignon Blanc, Gelber Muskateller and Welschriesling grapes, Loisium is an indelible resource—a sort of wine library, with a selection of local bottles from winemakers like Tement (located adjacent to Slovenia) and the century-old Gross winery. Add the hotel’s high-design aesthetic, Aveda spa and local cuisine from celebrated chef Dominik Stolzer, and you have a wine resort where even those with limited wine know-how can live it up. Rooms, from $240; Am Schlossberg 1A; 43-3453/288-00; <a href="http://loisium-suedsteiermark.at" target="_hplink">loisium-suedsteiermark.at</a>.
<a href="http://www.departures.com/slideshows/worlds-best-wine-resorts/8" target="_hplink">See More of the World's Best Wine Resorts Here</a><br><br> At this Tuscan Maremma retreat founded by Alain Ducasse (in partnership with the Moretti family) on the 1,235-acre La Badiola Estate, it is difficult not to binge on Mediterranean-inspired indulgences, like homegrown olive oil, horseback riding, scenic boat trips to the Tuscan coast and cooking classes with Ducasse-approved chefs. But first take a look at the surrounding La Badiola vineyards, which harvest grapes like Alicante, Syrah and Merlot. The property puts together a harvest package each year that includes not only a visit to the vineyard and the olive groves, but also spa access, a three-course dinner and cooking lessons. Rooms, from $690; Località Badiola; 39-564/944-800; <a href="http://andana.it" target="_hplink">andana.it</a>.
<a href="http://www.departures.com/slideshows/worlds-best-wine-resorts/9" target="_hplink">See More of the World's Best Wine Resorts Here</a><br><br> This nearly decade-old winery in Temecula officially opened its adjacent inn last May after years of prodding from its dedicated Wine Club members. The Mission-style hotel was built right on the farming grounds and is equipped with sustainable features, such as a parking lot that absorbs rainwater and properly distributes it to the on-site vineyard. Ponte is a boutique producer that only packages roughly 1,500 cases of each variety it makes, but the diversity it offers is vast (from single-grape Pinot Grigios to sparkling rosés). Inside, private rooms offer soft, cozy design schemes, and each comes with either a patio or a balcony overlooking the winery’s 100-acre vineyard. Rooms, from $209; 35053 Rancho California Rd.; 951-694-8855; <a href="http://pontewinery.com" target="_hplink">pontewinery.com</a>.
<a href="http://www.departures.com/slideshows/worlds-best-wine-resorts/1" target="_hplink">See More of the World's Best Wine Resorts Here</a><br><br> Perhaps the most striking resort on this list, Hotel Marqués de Riscal’s Guggenheim-esque City of Wine complex is the handiwork of architect Frank Gehry, and stands in the middle of Spain’s Rioja region like a piece of public art. In northern Spain’s medieval town of Elciego, the hotel’s cellar—founded in 1858—is the area’s oldest and holds the winery’s mostly Tempranillo-based vinos. Marqués de Riscal, equipped with 14 luxury suites, also houses a Caudalie Vinothérapie spa and two restaurants: Bistro Restaurant 1860 and the Marqués de Riscal Restaurant, both overseen by Michelin-starred chef Francis Paniego. Rooms, from $380; 1 Calle Torrea; 800-325-3589; <a href="http://hotel-marquesderiscal.com" target="_hplink">hotel-marquesderiscal.com</a>.
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