Five Unique Wine Experiences You Cannot Miss

Alix M Campbell

Senior Contributor

Does your ideal getaway include sipping on a glass of vino or two while getting to know a new city or a different country? Why not tailor your trip around this delicious fermented grape juice and make it the star ingredient of your whole trip? Enjoy some inspiration from these five unique experiences in the area of wine tourism.

Take part in the Marathon du Médoc – wine marathon in France

If you thought that sports or running a marathon and drinking wine don’t go together, be prepared to be proven wrong. The Marathon du Médoc takes place in September in Bordeaux and has been officially running since 1985. The 42km-long track offers sublime surroundings with numerous scenic vineyards.

Combining ‘wine, sports, fun and health’, participants are encouraged to indulge in 23 glasses of wine along the way together with local specialties like cheese, steak, oysters, foie gras and ice-cream. If that’s not enough, everyone is in fancy dress and will go home with a delicious goody bag if they finish in a certain amount of time.

Now, is it better to go on an eating spree or to run some laps to prepare for this event? Not sure, but in any case, have some wine.

Wine marathon

Sleep in a wine barrel at the Quinta da Pacheca estate in Portugal

If you’re more the kind to lean back and relax while you drink your wine, then this wine estate in the Douro Valley in Portugal has got you covered. For this viticulture experience, you’ll dive right in. Into the wine barrel, that is. Guests at the vineyard can sleep in one of the estate’s 10 luxurious 25 m2 large wine barrels, which sit in a vineyard of 140 acres, ready to be explored.

The barrels are made of pinewood and are fitted with high-end amenities like a walk-in shower in the private bathroom, a large round bed with skylight for some stargazing at night as well as WiFi, air conditioning and a private terrace to enjoy a romantic glass of wine or two in an idyllic setting.

You can also enjoy wine tastings, sample locally produced olive oil and jam and have dinner at the restaurant during your stay at the vineyard. And if you think you’re cosier in a regular room, you are more than welcome to book a room in their hotel.

Solve a murder mystery on the Napa Valley Wine Train

Who doesn't love solving murder mysteries? Even more so when they can be enjoyed with a lovely glass of wine. This wine experience, however, takes this board game to a whole new level, by letting you enter the stylish world of mobsters in the 1920s. It’s not all fun and games (or is it?) when your relaxing three-hour train ride through Napa Valley transforms into a mysterious crime scene.

Better dig into your three-course gourmet meal and enjoy a pinot noir to help your braincells solve this puzzle. Who did it? Who are the suspects? You can trade clues with your fellow passengers and gather as much information as needed to solve this crime and prevent the murderer from escaping.

To make this experience even more fun, participants are encouraged to show up dressed in their best 1920s getup like a tassel skirt, a feather boa and a sequin headband as well as a pinstripe suit complete with a fedora. If you’re not into fancy dress, you can come as a plain-clothed detective and mix in with the crowd.

Wine train, Napa Valley

Visit underwater winery Edivo Vina close to Dubrovnik, Croatia

This one is for the thrill-seekers amongst us wine enthusiasts. In the town of Drače about one hour north of Dubrovnik wine lovers can visit the first underwater winery in Croatia. Winery Edivo Vina has created this sanctuary underwater and invites guests to dive down and explore it. Relax, you can also stay dry and just buy a bottle of their best drop.

You’ll hear about the journey the wine takes, starting with a three-month ageing process above ground before it is transferred into amphorae, which are special clay jugs with two handles and a narrow neck. They are lowered underwater and stay there for one or two years. In order to prevent the bottles from leaking, they are corked and coated with two layers of rubber. This should also keep the saltwater from leaking in. The jugs are then packed in cages and locked so random divers can’t take them home as souvenirs.

This special way of storing should provide the ideal conditions for the wine to naturally stay cool and the underwater silence apparently adds to the quality of the product. The bottles are retrieved after about 700 days, and this is the product you can take home, corals and shells included.

Underwater winery

Vinotherapy – take a wine bath in Tuscany

If all those wine experiences haven’t been indulgent enough, you’ll find something up your alley in Tuscany, where wine is not only served as a beverage but as an elixir of beauty thanks to the polyphenols it contains. Bathe in a tub filled with the ‘nectar of gods’ or enjoy a grape massage. Wine therapy or ‘Vinoterapia’ is used to reduce stress and rejuvenate the skin, and it has been practised for hundreds of years, all in the name of anti-ageing.

There are several resorts in Tuscany offering wine treatments like revitalising scrubs, masks and massages, but for a romantic getaway, you could visit Castellare de’ Noveschi in Gaiole in the Chianti region, where you can relax in a Bacchus bath for two with a romantic hydromassage in the finest wines that work their magic improving circulation and eliminating toxins.

You are spoilt for choice in the area, so why not check out a few resorts and spas for the most relaxing holiday you’ve ever been on. Visit Borgo Scopeto Relais sitting on the hills surrounding Siena or the luxury resort Monsignor della Casa that offers a ‘Treasures from the Vine’ package. 

Wine bath

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