For all the oenophiles out there, there is surely nothing greater than sitting back and sipping a glass of vino (or three) while also drinking in (sorry) a seriously stunning view. Well, luckily for us Brits, we don't have to travel far for our vino-with-a-view hit; Europe is home to some of the most beautiful vineyards in the world, which produce, unsurprisingly, some of the most quaffable creations going. So if you're looking to undertake a chianti crusade, a malbec mission, a pinot pilgrimage (you get the picture), then here are three of our favourite European vineyards to experience. The fact that they just so happen to be at three of our favourite European hotels is a complete coincidence...
Sao Lourenco do Barrocal
Sao Lourenco do Barrocal, in Portugal's deeply underrated and under-visited Alentejo region, produces some wonderful wines and has some equally lovely cottages and suites to match. Activities at the hotel are focused on the hotel's estate - think picnicking between the vines, bike rides through the vineyards and soaking in a barrel bath in the salubrious spa. Our favourite, after a vineyard tour and tasting with the estate's expert winemaker, has to be watching the stars in the vast Alentejo sky with a glass (or bottle) of the estate's reserve wine; a wonderful way to spend an evening on a Big Short Break.
Les Sources de Caudalie
In the heart of Bordeaux, Chateau Smith Haute Lafitte's vineyards play host to Les Sources de Caudalie. The boutique hotel, and its eponymous cosmetics brand, is based around all things wellness, but you won't find any clean-eating juice cleanses here. Instead, the philosophy (can there be a French hotel without a philosophy? Discuss) is all about enjoying a little indulgence - Michelin starred food, delectable wines (naturally) and spa treatments based, unsurprisingly, around the healing powers of wine - before balancing it out with a walk around the vineyards and sculpture gardens. In Bordeaux itself, we recommend topping off your wine weekend by heading to the Cite du Vin, a museum totally dedicated to the art of viniculture. Make sure to stock up on wine (and cheese) to take back home from one of our favourite artisan shops in town.
Castello del Nero
Castello del Nero, one of our favourite Italian castle hotels, is set in the middle of Tuscan chianti country and, among other things, produces its own delightful wines (and a not too shabby olive oil). Guests staying in the meticulously restored castle or the rooms in the former farm buildings are not only treated to breathtaking frescos and vintage Fiat 500s for exploring the Tuscan countryside, but also tastings of the estate's own vintages in the atmospheric cellar. We can arrange private guided tours on which you can explore the many medieval villages dotted among the rolling hills, visit surrounding wineries where you can enjoy exclusive tasting sessions and generally gain an excellent insight into local Tuscan life. The wine is so good, you may even find yourself buying a case or two (or three) to take home with you - you may also need to buy another suitcase in Florence to transport said wine.