Leaf-peeping travel is at its peak come September and October, but we have another top reason to venture out this season — wine. Oenophiles looking for more than beautiful foliage this fall will want to book a trip to one of these locales for a vino-centric vacation.
Château Élan, Braselton, Georgia
Rural Georgia doesn’t immediately spring to mind when thinking about your next wine-centered vacation, but it should. Château Élan, about 40 miles from Atlanta, resembles a French countryside estate complete with its own vines. Book a couple of grape-centric getaway packages that will leave you more knowledgeable about vino (and probably more relaxed, too). The Wine Tasting Experience includes an overnight stay and entrance to a class where you’ll learn to match glassware and varietals, how to serve wine and, most importantly, how best to enjoy it. This fall, it’s available the weekend of Oct. 23.
The Fearrington House Inn, Pittsboro, North Carolina
Escape to this endlessly charming residential community just south of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, for a number of wine events this fall. With a country village as your backdrop, you can learn and taste your way through dinners and classes like a South African wine tutorial, a how-to session on pairing wine and seafood, a blind tasting of white wines and an exploration of the wines of Italy’s Alta Piedmont region. Sure, you could simply take a class and go home, but why not book a night at the Five-Star inn where no room is the same but each is cozier than the next?
Morris Inn, South Bend, Indiana
Here is a little-known fact: Morris Inn, which sits on the campus of the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, holds monthly wine-focused dinners featuring varietals from wineries with a connection to the school. Held at Sorin’s, the inn’s classic French restaurant, Sorin’s Wine Academy includes a five-course dinner for guests as well as pairings and a presentation from the selected vintner and executive chef Patrick Dahms. An upcoming event includes one hosted by Gallo (co-president David Gallo is an alum) on Oct. 14.
Biltmore Estate, Asheville
September is North Carolina Wine Month, and Asheville’s Biltmore Estate certainly knows how to celebrate the occasion accordingly. All month long, in fact, the estate will host a bevy of events through Taste of Biltmore, a showcase that highlights the best of its own vineyards. Some of the marquee happenings include barrel tastings, a village wine stroll, an alfresco dinner in the winery’s courtyard and a grand finale held outside with live music and Biltmore’s winemakers, chefs and farmers all in attendance. But the best news might be the fact that, after imbibing, you avoid potential hazards on the country roads by reserving a room not far from the revelry at the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Inn on Biltmore Estate.
The Venetian and The Palazzo, Las Vegas
While you may be traveling to Las Vegas for work, there’s sure to be at least a few hours squeezed into the itinerary for some fun. Duplicity in action! Thanks to these Four-Star properties, you can now sip wine after your convention while helping others, too. The sister properties now feature OneHope Wine as a house vino option for events at the onsite convention center. OneHope Wine supports Southern Nevada’s only food bank by providing 18 meals to those in need for every 12 bottles sold. So go ahead and have another, guilt-free.
Glenmere Mansion, Chester, New York
Located in Lower Hudson Valley, this 18-room inn manages to immediately transport you to Italy with a 1911-built mansion that evokes the grand estates in Tuscany. So, it only makes sense to make like the Italians and drink the spoils of the surrounding countryside. Ten miles from Glenmere sits Warwick Valley Winery and Distillery, where you can not only taste wines made from grapes in the surrounding areas, but also try hard apple and pear ciders, fruit brandies and liqueurs. Brotherhood Winery, a little more than 20 minutes from the mansion, is said to be the country’s oldest winery and the originator of wine tourism. Here, you can take a tour of the myriad underground cellars where some of the finest vintages in America are kept.
Meadowood Napa Valley
We can’t talk about wine trips without mentioning Napa. Head to Four-Star Meadowood for one of its harvest experiences with wineries such as Maisonry Napa Valley, Hall St. Helena and Phifer Pavitt Wines. Our choice is the one at B Cellars, which goes beyond a simple tasting. Tour the culinary gardens and kitchen, and then visit the crush pad to get schooled by a winemaker and taste freshly pressed grapes at various production stages. Of course, you’ll sit down afterward for a proper tasting. The best part is that you’ll leave with a souvenir: a wooden box with two proprietary blends signed by master winemaker Kirk Venge and co-founders Duffy Keys and Jim Borsack.