Travel Guide: Three Wine-Focused Honeymoon Destinations

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Want to wine and dine on your honeymoon? These locales have you covered.


Columbia Crest Winery has a rich heritage in the Horse Heaven Hills producing region. / Courtesy picture

WEST DIRECTION

Columbia Valley, Washington

When most people think of the West Coast wine country, they think of California. But up north, Washington State, the nation’s second-largest wine producer, is a cabernet-lover’s playground. America’s vast Columbia Valley wine region lies east of the Cascade Mountains and includes nearly 60,000 acres of vineyards that produce your favorite reds, rosés and more.

TO EAT

Walla Walla is more than just a town with a funny name (so cute it has to be said twice!); it is increasingly becoming a foodie destination in eastern Washington. No restaurant better embodies the emerging culinary spirit than Hattaway is on Alder, a 2021 Tripadvisor Travelers Pick. Hattaway’s Southern cuisine includes both standards and reinterpretations. Think: chicken and oatmeal and a muffled with homemade shrimp and kielbasa, plus a wine list dripping with wines from Walla Walla and the Columbia Valley. A star ? The “summer” rosé from Smak, Walla Walla’s all-rosé winery, that pairs well with everything from roasted asparagus to flourless chocolate pie.

Hattaway’s on Alder’s wine list leans heavily toward Washington labels. / Photo by Janna Dotolo

STAY

The magnificent desert wind winery, inn, restaurant and spa in Prosser is everything you could want from a honeymoon and more. The on-site tasting room, views of the Yakima River, and your choice of one of the inn’s four Santa Fe-inspired rooms combine to provide the luxurious and private experience you deserve after the wedding chaos. Start each day with breakfast in bed (thanks to Kitchen at Desert Wind’s locavore menu) before heading to the Tasting Room’s newly renovated riverside patio to sample house Malbec and other wines by Wahluke Slope. Finish with a spa massage and ahhh, the ultimate honeymoon bliss.

TO PLAY

This is wine country – get ready to visit some of your favorite Washington spots. Walk down the road to Prosser’s 14 Hand Cellar, which is home to popular varietals like Wine Enthusiast-praised Sauvignon Blanc as well as the ever-crowd-pleasing “Hot to Trot” red blend. Or stop at the famous colombia ridge cellar in Paterson to taste award-winning reds such as reserve cabernet sauvignon or syrah. Do you prefer your wine outdoors? Pick up bottles and a picnic lunch at a winery of your choice, and station yourself by the Yakima River for a DIY tasting for two.

Saint Clair’s Vineyard Kitchen takes outdoor dining to a new level. / Courtesy picture

FLY AWAY

Marlborough, New Zealand

When it comes to Sauvignon Blanc, it’s hard to beat the cool climates of Marlborough. New Zealand’s most famous wine region is packed with white wine specialists as well as some of the freshest seafood in the world. The flight may be long, but the destination, now open for travel from the United States, is well worth the trip.

TO EAT

New Zealand rivals New England for seafood. And, thanks to fertile soil, Marlborough also offers top-notch produce, meaning diners are brimming with options for meals from the land. and sea. Try both on Arbor, Blenheim’s restaurant with a rotating menu that consistently tops regional “best eats” lists. Depending on the season, you can taste green-lipped mussels (a local speciality), goat curd with plums or venison crudo with hazelnuts. your plate well. As always, a bottle of Sauv Blanc or Pinot Noir from a nearby vineyard seals the farm-to-fork (or glass) experience.

The Arbor Restaurant in Blenheim specializes in farm-to-table cuisine. / Courtesy picture

STAY

Picton, at the northern tip of New Zealand’s South Island, has long been considered the gateway to the Marlborough Sounds. Even better, it’s also a short drive to the wineries that put Marlborough on the map. Get the best of both worlds by booking a suite at Escape Picton. The boutique hotel’s opulent rooms were designed for honeymooners. Reserve the “Formelle” suite for access to a freestanding French soaking tub and king-sized bed that will help you kick off married life in style. To top it all off: free champagne, fine afternoon tea at the on-site restaurant and stunning views of the Picton Marina.

TO PLAY

That’s why you came: it’s wine time. Escape to Picton guests can book a personalized winery tour, which takes you through as many Marlborough vineyards as you like. Must-see stops include the Premier cloudy bay vineyards – home to a flagship sauv blanc and seasonal restaurant Jack’s Raw Bar – and Saint Clair family estate, a favorite for impressive charcuterie spreads and pours of chardonnay and pinot noir on the Vineyard Kitchen’s lush outdoor terrace. Exhausted ? Equally alluring are the islands and coves of the Marlborough Sounds, which you can explore via a boat cruise from Picton Marina. (Sailing into the sunset, anyone?)

KEEP IT LOCAL

Connecticut Wine Route, Connecticut

Fortunately, New Englanders don’t have to travel far to experience wine country and Grade A vineyards. The Connecticut Wine Trail is essentially our backyard — the more than 40 wineries that make up the state wine region are just a short (and scenic) drive from Boston. Grab your darling, load up the car and get ready to experience this East Coast gem.

TO EAT

Nestled in northwestern Connecticut is Arethusa al Tavoloa 2022 Connecticut Magazine Reader’s Choice for Best New American Restaurant. (It’s also a repeat Wine Spectator winner and an OpenTable favorite.) The farm-to-table spot uses only the freshest local dishes, including Arethusa farm dairy, to fill its changing seasonal menu. As a starter, an amberjack tartare could give way to a galette of spring peas with homemade ricotta or a kale salad with muscat grapes and marinated beets. Entrees run the gamut, from Arethusa butter-poached chicken to vegetable Wellington prepared with whatever is in season. Believe us: Each of Arethusa’s many rewards is well deserved.

Retreat to opulence in one of the Mayflower Inn’s country-house inspired suites. / Courtesy picture

STAY

When it comes to accommodation, location is everything. That’s why the five star Mayflower Inn & Spa in Washington is perfect: not only is the upscale hotel absolutely gorgeous (cottagecore but do it luxury), but it’s also centrally located to all of western Connecticut’s best wineries. Book one of Mayflower’s premium suites to enjoy a private balcony overlooking Mayflower Woods and a gas fireplace and soaking tub for cozy nights in with your honey. Plus, The Well, Mayflower’s sprawling spa and wellness destination, was recently praised by Harper’s Bazaar. If a beautiful country retreat is on your honeymoon checklist, Mayflower has you more than covered.

TO PLAY

It’s time to go on the track, that is to say the wine route. If you’re sticking to western Connecticut, you’ll want to stop at Newtown’s Aquila’s Nest Vineyards, one of the newest wineries in the state with a myriad of outdoor spaces to sip. Book it Arabian nights– inspired pergola, for example, under which you can enjoy a bottle of Baco Noir “Les Amazones” in front of a lantern-lit fireplace. There is also Hawk Ridge Vineyard in Watertown, a constitutional state favorite due to its award-winning wines and estate overlooking bucolic hills. Unwind with a glass of gold-winning “All Day Rosé” (or try a wine slushie) and settle into the glow of newlyweds.

To marry? Start and end your wedding planning journey with Boston Weddings guide to the best wedding vendors in town.

About Michael Brafford

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