From a convivial estate in Surrey to a luxurious new hotel off the coast of Croatia, Chris Carter pics four holidays for wine lovers – and one for beer drinkers.
The recently opened Vineyard Hotel, on Denbies wine estate in Surrey, wisely “doesn’t ram home the wine theme”, says Tim Moore in the Financial Times. The only “light prod” comes from the range of vine-sourced Caudalie toiletries. “The rooms in the new timber-clad annexe are large, bright and contemporary, with views that speak for themselves: each one is graced with a splendid overview of the vineyards, radiating avenues that cut through the chalky soil like vistas in an epic formal garden.”
Of the hotel’s three dining locations, the best has to be the wooden cabanas on the lawn, and a newly installed ha-ha allows for uninterrupted views up the vines and the North Downs Way. It also separates you from the dogs that occasionally scamper past, their owners in pursuit. “It’s all gently convivial, with none of the pretentious stuffiness that can so easily infect vineyard-linked establishments.”
Double rooms from £155, see denbies.co.uk
A Unesco site on Lake Geneva
LakeView Hotel Le Rivage is almost on Switzerland’s Lake Geneva and “looks up at the Unesco-listed Lavaux vineyard terraces, which tumble down to the water”, says Holly Tuppen in The Guardian. “Families have cultivated this mosaic of steep vineyards covering 800 hectares since the 11th century.”
Guests can equip themselves with bikes to ride to the vineyards, or you can walk there along a lattice of interesting paths. Nearby, there’s “an educational walking trail between Lausanne and Montreux, electric buggy tours and the Lavaux Express wine train”. Each autumn, volunteers are sought to pick the grapes from the steep south-facing slopes that make doing so by machine impossible. From May to the end of the year the “Lausanne à Table food festival celebrates the pairing of predominantly chasselas local white wine and food throughout the city”.
From £100, rivagelutry.ch
An ancient wine scene in Croatia
“Located off the coast of mainland Croatia is the island of Hvar – and if its idyllic location in the Adriatic Sea isn’t enticing enough, the island also boasts a wine scene that pre-dates the arrival of the ancient Greeks,” says Evie Carrick on Travel + Leisure. Hvar Wine Tours offers a half-day Waves and Wine tour (€125) that combines wine tasting with swimming in the sea.
Guests can talk to winemaker Toni Bojanic, whose family has made wine on the island for 500 years. There is also a subterranean cave on the southern shore that serves as a wine cellar and can be visited. “If you want to experience the creations of Croatia’s famous winemaking pioneer, Zlatan Plenkovic, Hvar Wine Tours docks at Plenkovic Bilo Idro for four courses of wine paired with local food – think marinated prunes, smoked ham and Croatian cheeses.” Hvar’s first five-star hotel, Palace Elisabeth, has its “soft opening” this month – perfect for those “looking for a luxurious wine holiday”.
From €370, suncanihvar.com
A historic town in Oregon
In McMinnville, a historic town located in the Willamette Valley, Oregon, there are a number of wineries and tasting rooms, “the most visually impressive being Elizabeth Chambers”, says Rosemary Behan in the Evening Standard. It specialises in “hand-crafted micro-regional” pinot noir. “The high-ceilinged, red-bricked tasting room in an old power plant, and the attractive garden, set off its lavish seven-glass tasting flight in a laid-back setting.”
Nearby, Atticus Hotel “welcomes wine tourists in fine traditional style”. Behan’s 445-sq-ft suite “has a Victorian feel, with an entrance hall, lounge, screened-off bedroom… and supremely comfy bed”. On the ground floor, Red Hills Kitchen restaurant demonstrates that “food in this part of the valley has caught up with the wines (and the cocktails hold their own with anything in hipster Portland)”.
From $255, atticushotel.com
An alternative for beer drinkers
The Aisch Valley in Bavaria apparently has the highest concentration of breweries in the world, says Andrew Bain in Lonely Planet magazine. Cycle paths along the river Aisch lead you to Bamberg, a “beautiful medieval city” that looks like “a Shakespearean stage set”.
At the start of the 19th century there were 68 breweries located here. Today, Bamberg has the Franconian Brewery Museum (named after the region), “hillsides drilled with cellar-caves, and a Bamberg Brewery Trail that guides visitors between the nine remaining breweries and their brewery pubs” perfecting for carb-loading ahead of the next day of bike riding. It’s just as well that cycling is a good cure for hangovers, says Bain – “or so I’m claiming”.
Rooms from €118 at Hotel Nepomuk, hotel-nepomuk.de