How does the other half travel? Luxury wine experiences are about more than just excellent amenities and Michelin-starred restaurants. Big spenders want to be a part of something exclusive that offers opportunities for behind-the-scenes exploration or learning not accessible by the general public. From events with renowned winemakers and sommeliers, private tours at wineries that don’t take appointments, natural treasures that feel secret, or even chances to blend your own wines, the best luxury wine trips offer a little something extra.
For travelers who don’t mind spending a little more, these destinations remove the choice paralysis of planning a wine lover’s itinerary. Guests can take a load off and leave the planning to the experts. From France to Arizona, here are four luxury wine travel experiences that are a caliber above the rest.
The Allison Inn & Spa, Newberg, Ore.
Oregon wine country is one of the most beautiful landscapes in America, with rolling hills, pastoral farms, and pristine vineyards covering the region. The Allison Inn and Spa places you right in the middle of the action, surrounding you with vineyards and wineries prime for exploration.
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The August Annual Wine Indulgence event walks guests through Oregon’s wine history and present, with presentations from renowned wine writer Karen MacNeil, author of “The Wine Bible” You’ll be guided through wine tastings with esteemed local winemakers to get a true sense of Oregon’s great wines. While you’re in town, book a private winery tour through the Willamette Valley with Dirty Radish’s Chevonne Ball, a wine country tour guide, sommelier, and maker of delicious Oregon Gamay.
Before a day of drinking and exploring, treat yourself to a Divine Wine facial at the spa, which includes a honey and wine mask, as well as a grape seed moisturizer. A Mimosa Massage starts you off with (you guessed it), a Mimosa, and incorporates Champagne oil into the treatment. For dinner, the Allison’s JORY restaurant boasts a wine list full of local gems, including many organic and biodynamic options from the region.
Castle Hot Springs, Ariz.
Getting to Castle Hot Springs is part of the adventure. Driving enthusiasts will love the 45-minute trek down the windy, unpaved road to the resort, where you’re liable to meet a local burro trekking right beside your car. If it feels like you’re driving into a mysterious oasis in the desert, that’s because you are. Castle Hot Springs, in the middle of the Sonoran desert surrounded by hundred year old Saguaro cacti, is a little piece of magic.
Start your visit by rolling up via golf cart to your personal cabin, complete with a private outdoor bathtub, locally sourced snacks, a luxurious bed you won’t want to leave, and an outdoor deck overlooking mountains dotted with cacti. Grab your bathing suit and take the path up to the natural hot springs, past the hammocks, the paddleboard yoga class, and the outdoor massage cabanas. Signs line the path encouraging quiet, meditation, and peacefulness.
For dinner, book a wine tasting overlooking the sunset with sommelier Sarah Foote, previously at the French Laundry, whose wine selection ranges from European classics like Domaine de la Romanée Conti, to classic American stunners like Corison, as well as a couple of local Arizonan standouts. Back at your cabin, open up any bottle on the list on your outdoor deck while watching the hummingbirds zip by the flower patches below. This is a wine experience centered on self-care.
Four Seasons at Wailea, Maui, Hawaii
Hawaii may not be the first state you think of when considering a wine destination, but the islands boast a dedicated community of sommeliers. The Four Seasons at Wailea sponsors events, classes, and tasting groups for aspiring wine professionals, creating a hub of wine knowledge for its staff. Two on-site restaurants boast excellent global wine lists that feature classic and biodynamic options.
The room you’ll want is the Four Seasons Elite Suite, which (for $16,500 per night) comes with a wine fridge stocked with bottles chosen by Christian Navarro, president of Beverly Hills’ Wally’s Wines and Spirits. Your room comes with a dedicated personal assistant who can curate your getaway and recommend beaches, activities, and even volunteer opportunities during your stay. The Four Seasons also works with the Lahaina Restoration Foundation, which helps preserve Maui’s historical artifacts.
Splurge on the Fire and Wine Experience — priced at a cool $28,500 — with advanced sommelier and chef Yeshua Goodman for a private evening on Maui for up to six people. To prepare, you’ll share your wine preferences and curiosities with Goodman himself, who then curates a wine list designed specifically to match your palate. Don’t worry about driving afterward — you’ll travel by helicopter to the island’s North Shore for a locally sourced meal with wine pairings, cooked over an open fire.
If you’re considering a Labor Day trip, the Four Seasons Maui Wine and Food Classic brings together winemakers from well-known producers like Opus One and Laurent Perrier as well as beloved chefs like Wolfgang Puck and Rashida Holmes.
The Vines Global Explorers Club, Destinations Vary
The Explorers Club is luxury wine travel for the dedicated adventurer. If extravagant, hands-on travel is your thing, you’ll be giddy over the multiple destinations on offer. The Vines is a membership group — a $100,000 initiation fee and $6,000 in annual dues gives you access to multiple wine travel opportunities per year in places like Champagne, Argentina, Portugal, Italy, Spain, and Germany, as well as in the United States. It also gives you opportunities to meet with respected local winemakers and blend a custom barrel of wine to your liking, which you can have bottled and shipped back home.
For guests who have decision-making fatigue, The Vines provides a curated experience steeped in luxury via trips from three to four days. Members stay in jaw-dropping hotels, like Domaine Les Crayeres in Reims, travel in Mercedes coach vans, and eat at Michelin-starred restaurants, with excellent local bottles of wine constantly on offer. There are daily wine tastings with expert sommeliers, vineyard and winery visits, and even dinners with winemakers like Michel Drappier of Champagne Drappier and Antoine Billecart of Champagne Billecart-Salmon. Blending experiences allow members to sit down with winemakers, taste their still wines, and create their own blends.
“So much of what is interesting about The Vines is the people that are here. We have a mix of people who are very into wine, but may not be collectors. They’re more about the experience and the learning,” says Michael Evans, founder of The Vines. “We have eight winemaking partners around the world and are always keeping our eyes open for new places.”
Average group size is 14 people, with members ranging in age from mid-30s to mid-80s. “Learning about wine, interacting with wine, blending, and harvesting — wine is a pillar of our programs,” says Evans. “Unique experiences are a pillar, too, whether it’s cooking classes, photography workshops, visiting sites like the Reims Cathedral, for example. The final pillar is the community, and making sure members have time to be together and get to know each other.”