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As we move from through autumn, vineyards across the world are busy harvesting the fruits of their labor to prepare for the winter winemaking season. In recent years, wine enthusiasts, dazzled by the thought of rolling green hills and sun-ripened grapes on the vine, have been paying a visit to vineyards during this bustling time to see the work that goes into making their favorite wines.
While most vineyards in the northern hemisphere are just finishing up their seasons—it’s best to go in September and early October—it’s never too early to plan for next year. (If you can’t wait that long, the southern hemisphere will be celebrating their harvest in March.) Here, Departures rounds up seven of the most exciting ways to partake in the global vineyard harvest.
The French countryside with Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, A Four Seasons Hotel
Launched this season, the luxurious Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat has paired up with the legendary Domaines Ott winery—one of the world’s most renowned rosé producers—on an exclusive partnership for the resort’s guests. The Four Seasons team will whisk you via helicopter to the 345-acre estate at Château de Selle in Provence, which has always been off-limits to public visits until now. Book a trip for September so you can participate in harvest activities, or come year-round to experience hands-on training in Domaines Ott production, also meeting with the cellar master to discuss just how these juicy rosés are crafted, followed by a picnic prepared by the Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat’s Michelin-starred team. $4,155.
A Georgian excursion with Black Tomato
One of the most sought-after destinations of the moment, Georgia’s mountains, cuisine, art, and nightlife are occupying more and more of the limelight. But did you know that some of the oldest winemaking traditions were born in this country? In this singular package with Black Tomato, you’ll head to Georgia’s picturesque wine capital of Signagi (best in September and October) to stay in a private chateau owned by a family of local winemakers. In addition to picking grapes (and stomping on them), part of this harvest is truly an educational dive into more obscure Georgian winemaking practices like fermenting juice by burying it in an underground cellar. You can also learn how to make different grape-based delicacies like local grappa and cakes before you’re sent off with a fabulous harvest party filled with Georgian food, live music, and dancing. Price upon request.
Escape to Italy with Castello di Gabbiano
On this sprawling, castle-topped Chianti estate, your wine vacation becomes an all-encompassing foodie experience. Its lush hills are primarily planted with Sangiovese grapes—Tuscany’s most iconic varietal. Your day with the harvest team includes picking those very grapes, learning about crushing and fermentation, and eventually having a picnic right in the vineyards. But there’s also an opportunity to add an olive-oil harvest experience (the estate has its own production), a truffle hunting excursion—both of which are perfectly timed for September—and closing the trip out with a wine-fueled, moon-lit BBQ dinner. Price upon request.
Voyage through Turkey with Travel Atelier
Like Georgia, Turkey has been making wines for millennia, but the fruits of that labor are largely unknown outside the country. With Travel Atelier, you can dig right into the history of viticulture in Turkey and get to know modern-day winemakers during the autumn harvest. The tailored itinerary can include stops to Thrace to stay at a winery hotel and have a hands-on harvest experience and/or Cappadocia, where wine has been enjoyed since 2,000 BC. There, you can meet with Udo Hirsch, a German who has settled in central Turkey to create wines the way they were historically made: naturally and aged in amphorae—some are up to 2,000 years old. Price upon request.
Experience Swiss winemaking with The Ritz-Carlton Hotel de la Paix, Geneva
Switzerland is home to over 200 grape varietals. But limited bottling has made Swiss wine a local secret so it’s best to head over there yourself to get the inside scoop. Come in September when The Ritz-Carlton Hotel de la Paix, Geneva puts you in the heart of Vaud wine country thanks to a helicopter ride over the blue waters of Lake Geneva. The morning with La Maison du Moulin winemaker Yannick Passas will orbit about his natural wine processes, followed by a charming wine picnic (lots of Swiss cheese and charcuterie) overlooking a verdant vineyard. If you want to keep the boozy theme going back in Geneva, the Ritz-Carlton team can end your day with a make-your-own-aquavit station (you’ll get to infuse your own bottle, which they’ll age in the hotel and ship home to you once it’s ready) at their buzzy Nordic-fusion restaurant Fiskebar. Price upon request; ritzcarlton.com.
Explore Australian vineyards with St. Hugo Winery
There’s traveling for a grape harvest, and then there’s flying to South Australia to own your own row of vines at the St. Hugo Winery in the Barossa Valley. This three-day package is first-class all the way: eight-course tasting menus, chartered flights in South Australia, five-star accommodations at The Louise. But the best part is the trip to Coonawarra, where some of Australia’s best Cabernet Sauvignons are grown and you can actually select your very own, named-after-you row of vines with St. Hugo Winery. Then, in partnership with the chief winemaker, you can craft a bespoke red wine from the estate’s best grapes. This blend will be bottled and aged on-site and each year a supply of it will be delivered to your home. This out-of-this-world package is available year-round but best booked for March, when cabernet sauvignon grapes are being harvested. $150,000.
Cycling through South Africa with DuVine
Scheduled for March 2019, right in the middle of South Africa’s harvest season, this cycling trip will feature one special guest: award-winning New York City chef and avid rider Seamus Mullen, on-hand to spend time with guests during this six-day adventure biking through some of South Africa's most picture-perfect locations. The first day will bring the group to visit one of the Western Cape’s top wineries to blend their own bottle to be uncorked over a lunch prepared by Chef Mullen (who will be cooking two more times before the trip is over). $6,595.