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.