Project Description

Departures mentions Atticus Hotel

December 27, 2020

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Sip the finest vino in the world’s best women-led wineries.

From producing renowned cold-climate pinot noir in the Pacific Northwest to ushering in the burgeoning sparkling rosé scene in northern Tasmania, female winemakers are leading the scene in the world’s top wine regions. Here, your guide to them all—plus the top women-owned hotels and restaurants to support along the way.

Uco Valley, Argentina

Jammy, full-bodied malbecs are the pride of Mendoza, a wine-growing area in Argentina’s windswept north. In the historic downtown, dine on organic, hearty Italian dishes like pumpkin ravioli and burrata tapenade at María Antonieta by Vanina Chimeno, a chef trained by her mentor and partner, Francis Mallmann. Just 30 minutes south is Cavas Wine Lodge co-owned by Cecilia Diaz Chuit, a romantic 17-villa boutique hotel and Relais & Chateaux property with a 3,000-bottle wine cellar with nightly tastings. Further afield is Entre Cielos by Cecile Adam, a modern, 16-room luxury boutique hotel with its own wine label, Marantal, and Latin America’s first six-stage circuit hammam spa.

For your first tasting, join Susana Balbo—Argentina’s first female winemaker and the first woman president of Wines of Argentina—at her namesake winery for tastings of crisp torrontés, fresh rosé malbec, and elegant cabernet sauvignons. When you arrive in the Uco Valley, a region surrounded by snowcapped Andean peaks, let Mariana Onofri, head sommelier and wine director at The Vines of Mendoza, show you the way. She leads guests through blending sessions and barrel tastings of the property’s 230 private vineyards—plus her own label, Onofri Wines, where she makes 12 wines with a mission to rescue ancestral Argentine grapes.

Willamette Valley, Oregon

This 150-mile long valley in the Pacific Northwest is known primarily for one thing—it’s production of downright delicious cold-climate pinot noirs. During a visit, opt for a stay at the cozy Atticus Hotel, a 36-room luxury boutique property co-owned by entrepreneur Erin Stephenson. Not only does the property have a bunkhouse suite perfect for girlfriend getaways, it’s also a short stroll from convivial café Community Plate co-owned by Courtney Cunningham (the buttermilk pancakes and biscuits and gravy are not to be missed) and Thistle, a fine-dining outpost by Emily Howard that celebrates the seasonal bounty produced by Willamette’s farmers and ranchers.

While the valley has around 200 top-notch wineries, narrow down your tastings to vineyards where female vintners lead production, including Chehalem, where Katie Santora crafts an elegant pinot noir rosé; Remy Wines, for Remy Drabkin’s line of Italian wines with lagrein and dolcetto grapes; Stoller Family Estate, where Kate Payne-Brown bottles a chardonnay with notes of baked apple and ginger; Yamhill Valley Vineyards, where Ariel Eberle specializes in pinot blanc and riesling; and Matzinger Davies Wine Co., where Anna Matzinger bottles pinot noir and chardonnay.

Tamar Valley, Tasmania

With its temperate climate offering mild summers and long autumnal days, the island state of Tasmania is quickly staking its claim as Australia’s most exciting wine-growing area. With similar terroir as Champagne in northeast France, the island’s grapes ripen slowly on the vine, lending to its production of some of the world’s most elegant bubbly. During a visit, head to the island’s northern bounds for a stay at women-owned Stillwater Seven in Launceston, an 1830s flour mill converted into a sleek 7-room boutique hotel offering views of the Tamar Valley’s farms and vineyards. It’s the perfect base to visit wineries like Holm Oak Vineyards, where winemaker Rebecca Duffy produces silky pinot noirs and pear-and-jasmine noted pinot gris.

When lunch calls, head to Tasmanian Food and Wine Conservatory, a converted greenhouse by mother-daughter duo Vonda and Brielle Mason. At this food emporium, select charcuterie spreads with jams, chutneys, cheeses, and meats by Tasmania’s top purveyors. Complement your meal a bubbly glass of rosé by Bellebonne, a label produced in Pipers River by winemaker Natalie Fryar, oft-considered the best and most respected sparkling winemakers in Australia.

Douro Valley, Portugal

Set in northern Portugal around 90 minutes east of Porto, the Douro Valley is the country’s preeminent wine-growing region and the famous origin point of Port, a fortified wine produced from distilled grape spirits and often enjoyed as an end-of-meal aperitif over decadent cheeses and chocolates. With its acclaim as one of the oldest demarcated wine regions in the world, boutique travel company Wild Terrains by founder Lauren Bates is shaking things up by hosting curated group trips for women that support female entrepreneurs in Douro and beyond. Travelers are privy to luxe guest rooms at Duas Portas Townhouse in Porto, owned by Luísa Souto Moura and Francisca Penha, and afternoon meals in the town’s top women-owned restaurants: tapas bar Tapabento and café and healthy eatery Early.

From Porto, the Douro Valley is easily accessible where an experience at Wine & Soul by Sandra Tavares and her husband Jorge Serôdio Borges awaits. Travelers spend a full-day learning the winemaking ropes with Tavares, exploring her vineyard and tasting her line of wines—from pure vintage Port to grapefruit-noted white wine aged in French oak barrels—before partaking in a blending workshop to bottle their own wine.

Okanagan Valley, Canada

With its verdant pine forests, mountains, and lakes, British Columbia is an adventure-lover’s paradise. But thanks to the Okanagan Valley, it’s also a top destination for oenophiles. Marked by the expansive Okanagan Lake and acres of hillside vineyards, unwind at God’s Mountain Estate, a Mediterranean-style property owned by Sarah Allen. Nestled within a 115-acre oasis overlooking Skaha Lake, it’s the perfect base to explore the area. In nearby Kelowna, convivial like The Naked Café  await, a vegan eatery owned by sisters Tessa, Teghan and Olivia Gordey. Go for healthy comfort foods like organic bagels and kale Caesar salads, and be sure to stop by Rustic Reel to sample blonde and amber ales by owner and brewmaster Susi Foerg. Be sure to check the schedule of The Paisley Notebook, a pop-up dinner series by Aman Dosanj. Her moveable feasts are often held in stunning settings, from hay-strewn pastures to rolling vineyards.

For your first wine tasting, head to Tinhorn Creek, founded by couple Sandra and Kenn Oldfield. As one of the most prominent wine consultants in the Okanagan Valley, Sandra leads tastings of full-bodied syrahs and pale peach cabernet franc rosés. Continue to woman-managed Dirty Laundry Vineyard in Summerland to try white blends of gewurztraminer, riesling and sauvignon blanc and red blends of pinot meunier and pinot noir.