Travel Guide: Three Wine-Focused Honeymoon Destinations
Looking to wine and dine your honeymoon away? These locales have you covered.
Columbia Valley, Washington
When most people think of West Coast wine country, they think of California. But up north, Washington state—the country’s second-largest producer of wine—is a cabernet lover’s playground. The sprawling Columbia Valley American Viticultural Area lies east of the Cascade Range and comprises almost 60,000 acres of vines that produce your favorite reds, rosés, and more.
Walla Walla is more than just a town with a funny name (so nice you have to say it twice!); it’s increasingly becoming a dining destination in eastern Washington. No restaurant better embodies the burgeoning culinary spirit than Hattaway’s on Alder, a 2021 Tripadvisor Travelers’ Choice pick. Hattaway’s southern-leaning fare includes both standards and reinterpretations—think: chicken and grits and an étouffée with shrimp and housemade kielbasa—plus a wine list dripping with Walla Walla and Columbia Valley wines. One standout? The “Summer” rosé from Smak, Walla Walla’s woman-owned, rosé-only winery, which pairs well with everything from the roasted asparagus to the flourless chocolate torte.
The gorgeous 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 pick of one of the inn’s four Santa Fe–inspired rooms combine to deliver the luxurious—and private—experience you deserve after wedding chaos. Start each day with breakfast in bed (courtesy of the locavore menu at the Kitchen at Desert Wind) before heading to the tasting room’s newly remodeled riverfront patio to sample the house malbec and other Wahluke Slope–made wines. End with a massage at the spa and ahhh, the ultimate honeymoon bliss.
It’s wine country—get ready to visit some of your favorite Washington spots. Pop down the road to Prosser’s 14 Hands Winery, home to popular varietals like the Wine Enthusiast–lauded sauvignon blanc as well as the perennially crowd-pleasing “Hot to Trot” red blend. Or, stop by the celebrated Columbia Crest winery in Paterson to sample award-winning reds such as the reserve cabernet sauvignon or syrah. Prefer your wine en plein air? Pick up some bottles and a picnic spread from a vineyard of your choice and post up by the Yakima River for a DIY tasting for two.
Marlborough, New Zealand
When it comes to sauvignon blanc, it’s hard to beat the cool climes of Marlborough. New Zealand’s most famous wine-growing region is chock-full of white-wine specialists as well as some of the freshest seafood in the world. The flight might be long, but the destination—now open for travel from the U.S.—is well worth the journey.
New Zealand rivals New England for seafood. And, thanks to the fertile soil, Marlborough also has top-notch produce, meaning diners are flush with options for meals from land and sea. Try both at Arbour, the Blenheim restaurant with a rotating menu that consistently tops regional “best of” lists. Depending on the season, you could dine on green-lipped mussels (a local specialty), goat curd with plum, or venison crudo and hazelnuts—whatever Arbour serves, not only will it be fresh and local, but it’ll be lick-your-plate good. As always, a bottle of sauv blanc or pinot noir from a neighboring winery seals the farm-to-fork (or glass) experience.
Picton, on 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 from the wineries that put Marlborough on the map. Get the best of both worlds by reserving a suite at Escape to Picton. The boutique hotel’s opulent accommodations were made for honeymooners. Book the “Formal” suite to access a freestanding French soaking tub and a king-sized bed that’ll help you start married life in style. Rounding out the romance: gratis champagne, fancy high tea at the on-site restaurant, and stunning views of Picton Marina.
This is what you came for: It’s wine time. Escape to Picton guests can book a personalized chartered winery tour, which takes you through as many Marlborough vineyards as you’d like. Can’t-miss stops include the premier Cloudy Bay vineyards—home to a flagship sauv blanc and the seasonal eatery 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. Wined out? Equally alluring are the islands and inlets of the Marlborough Sounds, which you can explore via boat cruise from Picton Marina. (Sunset sail, anyone?)
KEEP IT LOCAL
Connecticut Wine Trail, Connecticut
Luckily, New Englanders don’t have to go far to experience grade-A wine country and vineyards. The Connecticut Wine Trail is basically our backyard—the 40-plus wineries that make up the state’s wine country are just a short (and picturesque) drive from Boston. Grab your sweetie, load up the car, and get ready to experience this East Coast gem.
Tucked away in Northwestern Connecticut is Arethusa al Tavolo, a 2022 Connecticut magazine reader’s choice pick 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 fare—including dairy products from the Arethusa Farm—to populate its changing seasonal menu. Of the starters, a yellowtail tartare could give way to a spring-pea flatbread with house ricotta or a kale salad with muscat grapes and pickled beets. Entrées run the gamut from chicken poached in Arethusa butter to a vegetable Wellington made with whatever’s in season. Believe us: Each of Arethusa’s many accolades is well-earned.
When it comes to lodging, location is key. That’s why the five-star Mayflower Inn & Spa in Washington is perfect: Not only is the upscale hotel absolutely gorgeous (cottagecore but make it luxury), but it’s also centrally located among all of the best wineries western Connecticut has to offer. 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 massive spa and wellness destination, recently earned a shout-out in Harper’s Bazaar. If a beautiful country retreat is on your honeymoon checklist, Mayflower has you more than covered.
Time to hit the trail—the Wine Trail, that is. If you’re sticking to western Connecticut, you’ll want to stop by Newtown’s Aquila’s Nest Vineyards, one of the newer state wineries with a myriad of outdoor sipping spaces. Book the Arabian Nights–inspired pergola, for example, under which you can enjoy a bottle of “The Amazons” Baco noir by a lantern-lit fire pit. There’s also Hawk Ridge Winery in Watertown, a Constitution State favorite due to its award-winning wines and grounds overlooking bucolic hills. Kick back with a glass of the gold-medal-winning “All Day Rosé” (or try a wine slushie) and settle into the newlywed glow.
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