Oct. 8, 2012 at 10:21 AM ET
At Oregon’s Allison Inn & Spa, you can wake up to a view of Willamette Valley from your terrace, spend the afternoon sampling Pinot Noirs at local wineries, then retreat to the hotel spa for a “pinotherapy” treatment.
That kind of immersive experience has earned Allison Inn the No. 4 ranking among wine country hotels, based on Travel + Leisure readers’ votes in the annual World’s Best Awards survey. The winners come in lots of varietals, from opulent hotels to cozy inns, and turn up in established wine regions (South Africa’s Franschhoek, Argentina’s Mendoza) and less-expected destinations like Arizona’s Verde Valley and the Mount Etna area of Sicily, where that volcanic soil can work wonders.
Napa Valley, Calif., certainly has experience catering to the wine-focused traveler. “Our customers come here to experience wine country from head to toe,” says George Goeggel, managing partner of Auberge du Soleil in the Napa Valley, one of the area’s first boutique resorts. “We try to embody the wine country lifestyle in all aspects, from a glass of wine at reception to the local bottles on the menu to the crushed grapes in our spa treatments.”
That sentiment rings true in Santa Barbara, Calif., as well. “We estimate that 94 percent of our guests are wine lovers,” says Seamus McManus, managing director of San Ysidro Ranch, whose 1,600-bottle collection features an abundance of local labels. To satisfy their expectations, the hotel offers winery tours, hosts dinners with nearby vintners and stocks local wines in each of its cottages.
Not to be left out, the East Coast has its own properties among this year’s winners. Virginia’s rolling hills nurture The Inn at Little Washington as well as Keswick Hall, decked out with hunt-club prints and Chippendale chairs and host of regular themed wine dinners.
Even select urban hotels have caught on to the interest in wine tourism and offer guided day trips to wineries within a short drive. The renovated Four Seasons, Firenze, occupies a glorious frescoed palazzo with a pool and eight-acre park. It stocks nearly 400 bottles at Winery restaurant and makes a refined base for guided excursions into Chianti, 40 minutes away.
No matter which wine-country hotel you choose, one thing’s for sure: you won’t go home thirsty.
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