Grapevine Getaways for Wine Connoisseurs

Do you find yourself dreaming of sun-soaked holiday destinations as you move from country to country down the wine aisle? Well, a wine-inspired holiday is easier to arrange than you might think – at Prestige Holidays we have a number of luxury vinous retreats which feature stunning vineyard settings and world-class wine lists.  

Often I get clients after my own heart, who are looking for intimate country hotels which offer a taste of the good life – properties surrounded by vineyards, olive groves and citrus orchards. There are two destinations that we always highly recommend for an authentic wine experience in an idyllic location: Sicily and Croatia.

Sicily

For millennia the fertile soil and long summers of Sicily have nurtured grape vines, ever since the Greek god Dionysus first planted them on the island (or so myth would have it). Sicily now has 23 DOC – Denominazione di Origine Controllata – zones which produce an abundance of grapes, used both “in purezza” or blended.

Wines to look out for:

  • Marsala
  • Nero D’Avola
  • Etna Rosso

Relais Santa Anastasia, Cefalu

I fell in love at first sight with the twelfth-century abbey that is the Relais Santa Anastasia, nestled in its own wine estate. The rustic road that leads you to the front door takes you through row upon row of vineyards and olive trees, with a gorgeous outlook down the valley and out over the sea. This cosy and inviting hotel has just 29 rooms, spread out across the wings of the beautiful stone building.

The undeniable highlight for me was a tour of the winery cellar and guided tasting, which took place in the Abbey’s shady central courtyard. Their wine output is varied, from fresh, floral Chardonnays to a full and fruity Merlot that was so good I had to try it again with my meal in the restaurant, La Corte dell’Abate. Head Chef Antonio Bonadonna presents stunning Sicilian cuisine, accompanied by a fantastic selection of house wines – and they really are from the house!

Our team has noted that the WiFi connection can be somewhat intermittent, but we see this as a blessing in disguise – no buzzing phones or distracting laptops to drag you back into the real world! I cannot recommend this hotel highly enough for pure, laid-back escapism.

 

Raise a glass of sparkling Spumante, grown and bottled on the Abbey’s own estate, as you sit on the terrace and watch the sunset.

La Foresteria Planeta, Menfi

Originally designed as a guest house for the traders who visited the Planeta family’s Menfi wine headquarters, La Foresteria Planeta is now a contemporary boutique hotel with an excellent reputation. It’s certainly a property I can’t wait to tick off my own dream holiday list.

As it’s owned by the Planeta family, who have wineries all over Sicily, the hotel hosts a number of wine-related experiences. The tasting room offers the chance to sample some of their extensive collection; they tailor each tasting to suit your level of expertise, ensuring that every guest gets the most out of their experience. La Foresteria also offers the chance to visit their Ulmo estate, owned by the Planeta’s for generations, where the tasting menu comes highly recommended and the Iter Vitis Wine Museum and Country Museum will teach you about Sicily’s viticulture.

A guest recently told us that they borrowed bicycles from the hotel and rode through the surrounding vineyards, exchanging greetings with the workers who paused to welcome them. I can’t think of any better way to enjoy Sicilian wine, food and hospitality.

 

 

Make sure that you book a cooking lesson with the hotel’s chef, Angelo Pumilia, to learn the secrets of authentic Sicilian cuisine, including a special tutorial on cooking with wine.

 

Croatia

Wine also has ancient roots in Croatia, having been introduced by Greek settlers in the fifth century BC. In modern times there are over 300 winemaking regions in the country, which are generally divided as ‘coastal’ or ‘interior’. 67% of Croatian wine is white and produced in the interior; if you like sweet whites you will be in your element here, although there are plenty of other varieties to suit all palettes.

Wines to look out for:

  • Plavac Mali
  • Malvazija
  • Posip

Meneghetti Wine Hotel

The name of this hotel is something of a giveaway of its speciality. The Meneghetti Wine Hotel is set within a 120,000-square metre country estate, chiefly made up of grapevines and olive trees. I was pleasantly surprised by the fresh, laid-back styling of my room, with a palette of creams and greys, sharp angles softened by natural wood and cozy blankets.

Here, too, vineyards stretch out as far as the eye can see. The onsite winery produces award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which you can learn about and taste on an informative tour.

As well as providing an impeccable wine list, the hotel is a member of Relais & Châteaux, a testament to the standard of its haute cuisine. The intimate restaurant seats just 30 people, and customers travel from miles around to treat themselves to the fine dining experience it offers. I had marinated fillet of beef, served atop a bed of gently smouldering charcoal and rosemary twigs inside a wooden magnum box … ask for a Meneghetti red to sip along with it for a meal that is difficult to top.

 

The Meneghetti is the epitome of the Croatian wine experience – luxury accommodation, exquisite food and world-class whites and reds.”

Grand Hotel Palazzo

This is the only hotel on our list that isn’t situated within its own rolling vineyard – that’s because it’s located in a stunning coastal position on a promontory looking out over the Adriatic Sea, backed by the seaside town of Porec. However, it has plenty to offer the wine connoisseur.

For bygone Austro-Hungarian elegance, the Grand Hotel Palazzo can’t be beaten. A glamorous Venetian feel flows from the 74 rooms to the à la carte restaurant, Parenzo 1910  and the PI wine bar, where there is an extensive menu of local Croatian wines to sample and drink. We have it on good authority that the concierge staff at the Palazzo are excellent, and frequently help their guests to make excursions to local vineyards and wineries.

The most avid oenophiles are not content with just drinking their favourite beverage; the Palazzo’s onsite spa offers a range of therapy treatments, including a 75-minute wine massage. It has long been recognised that grapes are good for the skin – research now proves this, demonstrating that the polyphenols, vitamins and minerals present in wine can have excellent restorative effects on skin cells.

 

Feel the rejuvenating effects of a wine therapy massage at the Grand Hotel Palazzo – now that’s not something you experience every day.”

If this post has whetted your appetite for the vinous experiences that Prestige Holidays has to offer, happiness is just a phone call away. Have a chat with our experienced team who will arrange all the details for you.