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The Grapes Are Greener on the Other Side

By: Staff

Ever since Stag’s Leap snagged 1st place from Montrose in the scandalous 1976 Paris wine-tasting conference, Napa Valley has been the go-to for American oenophiles. Now we love Napa, but sometimes there’s a craving for a different terroir. So, here are some of our favorite vineyards, complete with exquisite grapes, stunning views and, of course, superlative-worthy hotels.


In the foothills of the Andes, thousands of feet above sea level, Mendoza is fast becoming the world-renowned wine capital of South America. Famous for its Malbec, the best bottles are found in Luján de Cuyo and Uco Valley. Wine country here is arguably the world’s most picturesque—rows of vines bristling gently in front of flamingo-pink cloud-capped Andes. Two hotels stand out in Mendoza for their suave sommeliers and gorgeous mountain-side location. Cavas Wine Lodge in Luján de Cuyo is an 18-villa boutique set on 55 acres just minutes from the region’s best vineyards; the 21-villa Vines Resort & Spa in Uco enjoys a similar vineyard-immersed position and provides guests with the opportunity to blend their own varieties.


This one is no surprise. Viticulture has long been a part of Tuscan heritage, from simple vinos in the Etruscan times to the emergence of the big, bold Super Tuscan in the 1970’s. Many of Italy’s most notable wines are from here—Chianti and Brunello, to name a few—and oenophilia is a central part of every Tuscan visit. Our favorite spot to drink it all in is atop Ferruccio Ferragamo’s Medieval hamlet-hotel, Il Borro Estate. Since purchasing the 13th-Century hilltop haven in 1993, the Ferragamo family has carefully fitted its buildings with up-to-date amenities and light, modern interiors that don’t detract at all from the village’s charm. Fun fact: Its in-house cellar was where the first Chianti was produced—and where the estate’s 90-Point Il Borro red continues to be stored.


Think Cape Town and your first thoughts will probably be of Table Mountain or safaris, but you should start adding vineyards to the list. Going all the way back to 1659—Frederick the Great and Napoleon were fans—South Africa has a long history with wine. Turbulent times and changing guards eclipsed the prominence of the area’s viticulture now and then, but since the 1980s, South Africa has been having a wine-o renaissance. An upcoming region, the Franschhoek Valley, is where our favorite Cape Winelands boutique is located, 21-room Le Quartier Francais. Classic French country interiors and immaculately-manicured gardens join forces with Franschhoek’s charming vistas to captivate you with the full force of South Africa’s intoxicating wine country. 


Bordeaux—wine has been king here for millennia. To help write the next chapter in this gorgeous wine country’s history, we recommend staying at Les Sources de Caudalie, a series of Yves-Collet-created contemporary buildings, scattered among the vineyards of Châteu Smith Haut Lafitte. Here, reclaimed materials fuse the modern resort with a rustic French feel. A Caudalie Vinothérapie Spa, two-michelin star restaurant, La Grand’Vigne and expert dégustions by Head Sommelier Aurélien Farrouil ensure a stay here is as quintessentially Bordeaux as the outside grapes.


Portugal’s Douro Valley is famed for its port, but table wine craze has swept through its vines. Center-stage in this beautiful, hilly landscape is the meandering Douro River. Terrace upon terrace of sunbathing vines crawl up its banks, enriched by the river soil and temperate climate. It’s here that Six Senses’ first European outpost is located, just 90 minutes from Porto. The chic hotel was designed by New York-based Clodagh Design—so you know who thank for the river-view floor-to-ceiling windows, indoor and outdoor pools, traditional homegrown Portuguese fare at Vale d’Abraão and the award-winning spa. And, of course for the oenophiles, the two on-site sommeliers are local winemakers, offering guests a real insight into the local scene. 


Spain’s Basque Country houses one of the most unique and stunning cultures in Europe. Food and wine are at its core (it’s home to almost 30 Michelin-starred restaurants). At the forefront of local viticulture is the Marques de Riscal estate in the so-called City of Wine, Elciego. In 2006, the vineyard partnered with Frank Gehry to produce the second titanium-clad gem in Basque country (the first being the controversial 1997 Guggenheim in nearby Bilbao). The Marques de Riscal has since become the paragon of enotourism in the region. Its titanium ribbons curl atop the hotel, accented purple and gold in honor of Riscal wines’ color.