From Burgundy to Barossa Valley, we've scoured the globe for the best wine destinations.
Ease into the end of your ideal holiday in the rolling Barossa Valley, a patchwork of hillsides with more than 80 vineyards, producing mostly robust reds. A distinct local foodie culture has also evolved with cool cafés and sexy restaurants extolling regional fare. Settle in on a vine-lined hillside at The Louise, an exquisite, contemporary boutique hotel featuring 15 architecturally inspired suites in seductive mod tones, each with superb ensuites with spa tubs, an outdoor shower for star-lit shampooing and a private terrace. The facilities are state-of-the-art and the restaurant is truly outstanding. But, you’ve got reds to sample, and your Mr & Mrs Smith planner will help organize only top-flight private tours, tastings and meet-ups with influential winemakers at wineries like Charles Melton and Two Hands. Cheers to that…
Board the Searoad car ferry at Sorrento Pier on the Mornington Peninsula for the 40-minute voyage across Port Phillip Bay to Queenscliff. Once there, Phil Spencer recommends ‘checking out the surfing Meccas of Torquay and Bells Beach.’ Bells is home to Easter’s iconic Rip Curl Pro competition, but you can watch surfers here any day. ‘From Bells, the drive to Lorne is simply breathtaking, as around every bend there are amazing views of pristine beaches and stunning cliffs,’ says Phil. Turn in at Grey River Road, in Kennett River, to see koalas snoozing in the gum trees; to enjoy aerial views yourself, hightail it to Otway Fly Treetop Adventures, which boasts ‘uplifting’ canopy walks and zip line thrills.
Driving the Great Ocean Road takes about five hours, but rather than rushing it stop off along the way. Cape Otway’s Great Ocean Ecolodge offers guided walks at twilight to spy wild kangaroos and koalas, and whips up hearty meals with homegrown produce. Fancy self-catering? Rustic Allenvale at Lorne is a good bet for night one; for a second night, Smith recommends designer den Moonlight Escape near surf-lashed Johanna Beach or Anchors’ contemporary cabins at Port Campbell, ideal for viewing the jaw-dropping 12 Apostles offshore rock stacks at sunrise or sunset and dramatic Loch Ard Gorge. Handy pit stops include the Bottle of Milk at Lorne, the Wye General Store at Wye River and Wickens Provedore at Apollo Bay. ‘Port Fairy is a charming fishing village just past Warrnambool,’ adds Phil. ‘It has a great little beach, café culture and laid-back vibe, as well as a fantastic folk festival in March. Call in at Basalt Wines in Killarney en route.’
Stray 10 miles south of Cape Town's city centre into the leafy cloud-cloaked hillside suburb of Constantia and follow the historic wine route past 17th-century manor houses. Rosé, white, red and bubbly win awards for some of the smaller winemakers, but the cooler temperatures here make it especially ideal for sauvignon blancs to flourish. We say, seek out under-the-radar labels, such as the small batches produced by Beau Constantia.
At La Residence, this 30-acre working farm lets you sip the bounty of its beautiful Franschhoek Valley setting in true splendour. Tastings don’t get more exclusive than with the award-winning sommelier in the romantic private cellar of this château-style estate. Oenophiles will appreciate the double-volume, glass-fronted wine cellar at Ten Bompas, one of Joburg’s smartest addresses. It contains several thousand bottles of South African vintages and a large collection of auction wine purchased each year at the Cape Winemakers Guild Auction in Stellenbosch.
For many of us, travel is what we eat: new flavours, local delicacies and relaxing al fresco feasts. Grade-A gourmands tend to love things Gallic and, when it comes to getaways, Provence’s Alain Ducasse-owned Hostellerie de l’Abbaye is the cerise on France’s rich gâteau. Nearby Baumanière is a Michelin-star-spangled stay hugged by abundant vineyards. Cross the Med to Castiglion del Bosco and you can learn the secrets of the Tuscan cucina at its renowned cookery school. Thirsty? California’s cinematic wine country – valleys Napa and Sonoma – will sate you in style.
Your own convertible, an ocean-side highway and some unironic blasting of The Beach Boys – a California road trip is driving as it's meant to be. Farmhouse Inn, a romantic ranch in wine country, is a great starting point for your adventure, once you've sampled the Michelin-starred food and some local blends (and slept it off, of course). Make a stop at Big Sur for some intimate isolation and dramatic Pacific views at Post Ranch Inn. Alternatively, follow in the tyreprints of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon and take your own feast-fuelled trip around Tuscany (Michael Caine impressions optional). Or, hire a car in Naples, and put Monastero Santa Rosa's address into the sat nav – you'll follow the jaw-dropping Amalfi coastline before tackling a death-defying uphill road to the hotel.
Go to the Barossa Valley outside Adelaide. You’ll be charmed by the Silesian German villages, particularly the town of Tanunda, and you must visit the Rockford Winery to experience the very best Barossa shiraz, Basket Press. Crossing over a tiny little creek called ‘Jacobs’ gave me a thrill, too.
Combine culture and coast on the Mornington Peninsula, which offers mellow beaches, boutique wineries and inspiring art just 45 minutes drive from Melbourne. With three romantic rooms – African, Beach and Bush – and to-die-for breakfasts, Big Blue Backyard is blissful for shoreside strolls, swimming with dolphins or wallowing in hot springs. Pop to Montalto Vineyard & Olive Grove for delicious dining, cellar-door tastings and outdoor sculpture. Arty distractions await at Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery and McClelland Sculpture Park & Gallery, too. For alfresco culture, wander the seaside Sorrento Portsea Artists Trail, where reproductions of artworks are displayed where they were painted.
Enjoy a meal in one of the countless vineyard restaurants around Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl. We love fit-for-a-photoshoot Babel at Babylonstoren where the views over this Franschhoek farm and its eight-acre kitchen gardens are a delight. And don’t feel under pressure to drink the delicious local wines to excess: chef Stefan Dunz not only works his culinary magic on just-plucked veggies but invites you to sip inspired homemade cordials such as pomegranate and thyme.