Summer is the best time to visit picturesque vineyards and taste some wonderful wines, so why not take the experience further by spending the night and avoiding the whole drink-and-drive dilemma? From 16th-century chateaux in France to Spanish colonial-style estates in Argentina, take your pick with our round-up of unique vineyard stays around the world.
Bodega El Esteco, Argentina
While Argentina is famous for red wine, it also produces a world-class white wine called Torrontés. Cafayate, in the northern province of Salta, is the best place for the Torrontés grape. There is a scenic wine route that runs from the city of Salta to Cafayate and goes through beautiful and varied scenery including valleys filled with bright orange sand and rock formations, followed by flat fertile green fields. Taste some of the region’s best wines at the Bodega El Esteco, and stay the night at the luxury Patios de Cafayate Hotel & Spa, a 30-room Spanish colonial-style property on the same estate offering top accommodation, an excellent wine spa and a superb restaurant.
Price: Double rooms start from US$280 (£174).
Tip: Don’t leave without trying a wine-based spa treatment. This is one of the few wine spas in the world and certainly one of the best in South America. We recommend the Cabernet Sauvignon barrel bath (US$54/£34 – bargain!) or the after-dark romantic massage (US$58/£36) carried out in moonlit vineyards.
Castello di Tornano, Tuscany, Italy
The architecturally stunning Castello di Tornano, located in a small village in charming Tuscany in Italy, is the perfect place to taste some excellent Chianti Classico wine and sleep like royalty. The castle rooms all feature antique furniture, four-poster beds and marble bathrooms. Climb up to the tower terrace for breathtaking views of the vineyards and surroundings. Wine tasting, which is not included in the stay’s price because it is combined with food tasting, takes place in the castle’s old prison – very atmospheric! There is also a very good restaurant on site. The village of Tornano itself dates back to the 10th century so you’ll really feel like you are stepping back in time.
Price: From €230 (£209) for two for a room in the castle (summer rate); prices for stays in the tower start at €310 (£282). There are also cheaper rooms available in the farmhouse for €150 (£136).
Tip: Take a cooking class (€110/£100 per person) with in-house chef Manuel Nardelli. He is a true character and the food is delicious. For outdoor enthusiasts, horse-riding (€30 per hour) is also available. Just ask the staff – they’re very helpful.
Tower Estate, Hunter Valley, Australia
For the ultimate luxury stay in a vineyard, Tower Estate in Australia fits the bill. Set in the beautiful Hunter Valley, the most visited of all Australian wine regions, Tower Estate offers 12 individually decorated, manor-like lodge rooms, including two suites- the Oriental Room, with wooden hot tub recessed into a private veranda, and the Chairman’s Suite, with its own tower and viewing platform. Staying here is expensive but the service is immaculate and the place truly enchanting. The winery’s famous handmade vintages are complemented by gastronomic delights at the on-site Roberts restaurant. Make sure you tour the estate’s own winery, although visits of surrounding vineyards by car, bicycle, limousine or horse-drawn carriage can also be arranged. Perfect for a relaxing, romantic escape.
Price: From A$720 (£480) for two including breakfast, afternoon tea and pre-dinner drinks.
Tip: Some rooms have wood-burning fireplaces so ask for one if you’re going in winter. Also, did we mention that Tower Estate is only two hours from Sydney so you can combine your country escape with a city break? Perfect.
Château Giscours, Bordeaux, France
The French wine region of Bordeaux is famous the world over for its amazing vineyards, but not a lot of visitors know that many of these stunning properties also offer rooms ‘au château’. Château Giscours is one of the most picturesque chateaux to stay in, with three rooms full of charm overlooking acres of gorgeous vineyards. High ceilings, wood floorings and period furniture make this 16th-century chateau the perfect place to stay for wine lovers and romantics alike. One night’s stay includes breakfast, a tour of the vineyard, grounds and cellars, and, of course, wine tasting.
Price: €140 (£127) for two per night.
Tip: Buy a bottle or two of La Sirène de Giscours, the chateau’s elegant second wine – cheaper than the first wine but very tasty indeed. Underrated, and therefore fairly priced, vintages include 2002 and 2004, but if you want to go for the best years, try 2000 or 2005.
Calistoga Ranch, Napa Valley, California
Calistoga Ranch, in California’s Napa Valley, stands out in a region famous for its wine, charm and new-age style. The luxury resort’s 48 lodges are located in a picturesque setting, nestled in a gorgeous secluded canyon, surrounded by trees. Warm furnishings, natural textiles and original artwork reflect the stunning wooded setting; each lodge features a fireplace, a private patio, expansive views and an outdoor shower garden. The restaurant is top notch and the pool has dramatic views of the resort’s private vineyard and oak groves. Did we mention there is also a world-class spa? Not cheap but worth every penny.
Price: From US$725 (£450) for two including breakfast (summer rate).
Tip: Calistoga Ranch also has its own lake and you won’t want to miss dining at the Lakehouse Restaurant at sunset.