Last week was English wine week. And as the summer continues to herald warmer evenings, the mind drifts towards sunset barbecues and leisurely lunches spent on sunny terraces with a glass of crisp white wine in hand. For some, a spa break is an alcohol free zone. But a really beautiful glass of wine can be a joyful part of leisure time as well, especially at Donnington Valley, and its sister hotel, The Vineyard.
The two hotels are owned by Sir Peter Michael CBE, a British engineer and businessman whose interests include radio and wine-making. In particular, he is a fan of Californian wines, and as such he owns a winery in California. It has very much informed the theme and the flavour of The Vineyard and Donnington Valley.
The Vineyard is known for its five star credentials as well as its running viticulture theme, from its own bespoke Red Grape products in the spa to the rooms that are named after different wines, and the impressive glass cellar, holding 30,000 bottles, that you walk over on your way to the restaurant (yes, you can take tours). There are over 100 wines to taste and enjoy by the glass. Meanwhile, the food is a uniquely special experience to go with it all as well.
Wander the halls and you will find a painting commissioned by Sir Peter. It protrays a pivotal moment in wine’s modern history. In 1976, in a small room in a Paris hotel, a blind tasting with some of the leading French wine aficionados of the day took place. Here, Californian wines were chosen over France’s very best. Sir Peter commissioned a picture, ‘After the Upset’ to commemorate the day the wine world changed forever. All the protagonists are in there, and so is Sir Peter himself.
“May 24th, 1976, was a beautiful sunny day in Paris, and as it turned out, a glorious day for Californian wines. As a Sonoma wine farmer, The Judgement of Paris was a momentous occasion that continues to inspire. At The Vineyard, this painting bears witness to that.”Peter Michael
Meanwhile, Donnington Valley is equally joyful and wine filled. If a little less formal than its sibling. Bringing luxurious standards alongside a more family friendly environment, it is close to The Vineyard and offers the perfect balance of experiences between the two. Less fine dining and more hearty, local fare. It too has a cellar of over 300 bins, 30 of which are available by the glass. Appropriately, the restaurant is named the WinePress Restaurant.
What both hotel spas provide are opportunities that bring luxury and variety to the spa experience, proving that spa breaks come in all shapes and sizes – there is space for all preferences, including those who really enjoy a superb glass of wine.
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