Foodies will also go overboard in The Bendooley Larder, an artfully arranged "spread" of dishes from the nearby restaurant kitchen and the finest produce courtesy of high-quality local providores.
FEW things ramp up the depth of feeling aroused by the word terroir than a weekend stay close to the vines that produced the wine you are drinking. Wine hotels and retreats have become popular in just about every wine-producing country in the world from France through Italy, the US, Argentina and South Africa. There’s also plenty of prestigious digs overlooking vineyards around Australia with many close to major capital cities.
During the first months of the Covid-19 pandemic, wine tastings at Bendooley Estate near Berrima, only 90 minutes’ drive from Sydney, were held in the Berkelouw Book Barn. A rather drab description for one of NSW’s most historic bookshops, selling rare and antiquarian volumes and new releases, which is one of the property’s major attractions.
The wine tastings have moved back to the very swish cellar door, a vision of glass, steel beams, century-old pine and local stone. Foodies will also go overboard in The Bendooley Larder, an artfully arranged “spread” of dishes from the nearby restaurant kitchen and the finest produce courtesy of high-quality local providores.
The luxury accommodation matches the literary, wine and food clout of this all-round destination. Choose from studio, one- or two-bedroom cottages, showcasing bespoke wallpaper, artwork, sink-into-sofas and deep, freestanding baths.
Unsurprisingly, Bendooley is a popular wedding destination, especially since the opening of The Stables, a huge rustic space with chandeliers, major windows and forever views to match the hopes of the happy couple.
Billed as Queensland’s first vineyard glamping experience, Sanctuary by Sirromet is just under 40 minutes’ drive from Brisbane, on a 226 hectare property at Mount Cotton in the Granite Belt. The winery offers tastings, tours, “ultimate experiences” and Supa Golf. Then there’s the accommodation which makes you feel as if the city is half a world away as you watch wallabies gambol among the paperbarks.
If you want to splash out there’s the spacious Laguna Suite, in addition to family and premium rooms. For those after a whole Queenslander to themselves, Merlot House is a four-bedroom guesthouse with its own rolling lawn. Stradbroke and Moreton Islands are only a short drive away for beach lovers and coastal walkers.
The Vineyard McLaren Vale is less than an hour’s drive from Adelaide on a 6-hectare vineyard. There’s a laundry list of other wineries close by, including d’Arenberg and its futuristic Cube and Wirra Wirra. All of the property’s guests can enjoy a soak in the jacuzzi perched atop the vineyard with panoramic views out to Gulf St Vincent.
Owned by the much-travelled Cross family, the accommodation mirrors some of the best in the world. There are four super-luxury, self-contained guesthouses, starting with the Cadole Avalon and Sierra studios. Cadole is a French word from the Rhone Valley for a small house in a vineyard, but there’s nothing rustic about the sleek Escapod of the Avalon overlooking the property’ s western shiraz block and the Sierra, which opened in June. The one bed Strand and Ardmore and two-bed Highland and Manhattan houses provide a true home-away-from-home.
The retreat offers a concierge service to further enhance its upscale cred. Curated tours include the Ultimate McLaren Vale, Coastal Safari, Vale and Hills and Cube and Coast. A truly world-beating experience with guest-only entry for maximum privacy.
Located on the Mornington Peninsula, Lancemore Lindenderry Red Hill is a 40-room boutique hotel only 60 minutes’ drive from Melbourne. The interiors have been re-designed by Hecker Guthrie and evoke a wraparound European country house vibe. The surrounding 13.75 hectares of gardens and vineyards leave you in no doubt you are close to some of the country’s top cool climate wineries.
The first-floor balcony suites are popular with new and returning guests or opt for the Linden Room, the nearest accommodation to the property’s vines and garden walks. Winemaker Barney Flanders has debuted a Grampians shiraz in the tasting room, alongside Lindenderry’s acclaimed chardonnay and pinot noir and a curated selection of Australian and international bottlings. The Dining Room is a highlight of a stay with decor that reflects the sort of classy presentation Melbourne is noted for from floor-to-ceiling windows to curved back chairs. A first-rate choice for anyone missing the wine country properties of Europe and the US.
Cape Lodge needs little introduction and has been a magnet for visitors to the Margaret River for decades. The property recently opened the Wine Lounge, a new all-day wine space launched in collaboration with the West Australian Good Food Guide. One of WA’s most celebrated wine stays, the 22 suites include the Lakeside Room and The Lodge King Deluxe. But for those who like to live large there’s The Residence, a four-bedroom retreat bounded by 1.2 hectares of manicured lawn and a private lake.
Keeping up the only-the-best ethos, private tours in a Jaguar XJL or Mercedes Viano are available. Or sign up for the more democratically priced Best of the Margaret River or Wine and Food Tour of the Margaret River options. Chef Tony Howell also presides over private cooking and demonstration classes. Or simply enjoy his skill with local and seasonal produce in the restaurant.
New Zealand is top of the list for the first overseas travel bubble. The County Hotel in Napier was one of only two buildings that survived the region’s massive 1931 earthquake and its grand Art Deco architecture has scooped up numerous awards. The property’s slogan is -Come and be spoilt – and the location can’t be bettered for visiting wine fans – directly opposite the New Zealand Wine Centre.
Originally built by the Hawke’s Bay County Council in 1909, the hotel was tapped as one of the top 25 hotels in the South Pacific in the 2019 TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice awards. The Wine Street restaurant and Churchill’s Bar are magnets for guests and well-heeled locals. The decor is more grande dame than contemporary, but that’s the essence of The County’s charm.