It’s perhaps no surprise that sales of organic wine are on the rise – after all, if we care about the provenance of our food, why not want the grapes that make our wines to be produced without chemicals, and in the kindest possible way to the environment?
The figures released at the Millésime Bio organic wine fair in January showed growth in France and the UK’s, with the growth in organic wine far outpacing that seen in the non-organic market; the figures also showed a rising number of vineyards switching to sustainable practices (Europe now owns 90 per cent of the total global organic vineyards).
One vineyard ahead of the organic curve is Château Smith Haut Lafitte in Southwest France, which surrounds Les Sources de Caudalie hotel. “We are now turning to biodynamic and phytotherapy production methods, so we only treat the vines with other plants, rather than chemicals”, says Alice Tourbier, owner of Les Sources de Caudalie, and whose parents own the vineyards.
The idea for opening the hotel nearly 20 years ago came from wanting to find new ways for visitors to enjoy the vineyards. ‘The vineyards are a huge part of Les Sources de Caudalie – they are important because we can offer our guests a total insider’s experience, with a vinotherapy spa, vineyard tours and wine tastings”, continues Tourbier. “They can see how wine is produced in the same way that they enjoy seeing the vegetables in our kitchen garden.
“[Our vineyards] are important because we can offer our guests a total insider’s experience, with a vinotherapy spa, vineyard tours and wine tastings”
– Alice Tourbier, Owner of Les Sources de Caudalie
Don’t miss the impressive wine tour and tasting afterwards. Even the kids were fascinated by the process by which they make their wines has reverted to intensely traditional and organic methods, which I’m sure has made all the difference to their reputation. The amazing Sources Des Caudalie spa, vineyards, historic buildings, classic art pieces and traditional wine making secrets- All make for an amazing stay. #winetastingtour #winetour #smithhautlafitte #lessourcesdecaudalie #chateausmithhautlafitte #experiences #winecellars #francestay #francewinetasting #frenchwinetours #luxuryworldtraveler #placestosee #experiences #trynewthings #wineconnisseur #Familytime #familyadventures #familyvacay#familyfun #outdoorkids #outdoors #lifeofadventure
Casa de Uco Vineyards & Wine Resort in Argentina’s Mendoza wine region takes this idea of guests appreciating the production process one step further by offering them the chance to buy their own vineyard. “I started to produce wine 16 years ago, so I know that many people dream of having their own vineyard and being part of the wine-producing world”, says Juan Tonconogy, a managing partner of the 70-hectare, mostly Malbec-producing vineyard and hotel. “I wanted to create a place where someone who doesn’t have millions of pounds in investment and isn’t an expert in the industry can become a winemaker.”
In other words, guests can buy an already planted, fully managed vineyard and get involved with harvesting the grapes – then enjoy drinking the wine (currently there are 25 vineyard owners from around the world, with plots selling for prices starting from around $70,000 for 0.6 hectares). “We invite our guests to be hands-on, interacting with the agronomist and winemaker. If they participate, they leave Mendoza understanding much more about the cultural traditions of wine.”
For Tonconogy, the future of wine in Argentina is in differentiating wine types by sub-region and soil. “Some years ago, we hired a wine geologist to analyse the composition of soil in the vineyard. Rocky soil, for example, is hotter and has more drainage, so the plant matures earlier and you get a more mineral wine. By separating the soils, we get precise harvest moments and can differentiate wine styles”, he concludes.
“[We have] to be an open business dedicated to promoting not only the hotel and our own winery, but the destination as a whole. That way we can all benefit”
– Juan Miquel, Hospitality Director of Castello Banfi – Il Borgo
In Italy, according to hospitality director of Castello Banfi – Il Borgo in Tuscany, Juan Miquel, commercially, things are looking up. “Italian wines are going through a good period, thanks to the shift towards a better product. It has allowed us to overcome the traditional role of Italy as a prevailing exporter of low-profile wines, and to place Italian exports on higher levels of quality”, he says, citing climate change as one of the toughest challenges to be faced in the coming years. Guests here can tuck into dinner with dishes paired with Banfi wines, plus take part in tastings and vineyard tours. “I believe that combining a hotel with a vineyard is key in the territory we represent”, says hospitality director Juan Miquel. “It’s also important to tell our guests about other wineries in the area. It has to be an open business dedicated to promoting not only the hotel and our own winery, but the destination as a whole. That way we can all benefit.”
London-based freelance journalist Emma Love specialises in writing about interiors, design and travel for titles such as Elle Decoration and Condé Nast Traveller, where she is a contributing editor. She also writes for publications such as the Financial Times and the Guardian.