Romantic hotels, beautiful scenery, fine wine and food. For your debut into the world as a married couple, you want it all. While Napa and Tuscany may top many lists, a post-wedding getaway is also an opportunity for a decadent adventure away from other honeymooners. These five wine regions, from Europe to New Zealand, deliver.
In 2018, Croatia hosted nearly 20 million tourists, almost double the amount that visited in 2010. The darling of Instagrammers and Game of Thrones fans, jewels like Dubrovnik swell with visitors. Instead, hop on a ferry to the gorgeous Adriatic island of Hvar to explore its ancient wine culture.
That’s not to say Hvar doesn’t attract people during summer. Jay-Z and Beyoncé, Bono and other celebrities have spent lavish holidays there. But the island’s beauty, hidden coves, heady lavender fields, countryside bike trails and UNESCO-recognized plain of Stari Grad offer plenty of opportunity for romance. A choice hotel for newlyweds is the Adriana, a stylish boutique that hugs the glittering promenade. For a splurge, book dinner at exclusive spot Laganini Lounge Bar & Fish House on nearby Palmižana Island.
Hire a yacht or rent a simple boat to explore the Adriatic’s glassy waters and secret beaches. By car, head to the island’s wineries. It’s said that winemaking there dates to the Greeks in 384 B.C.
Anyone who’s visited this rugged Mediterranean island can attest to its heady balsam aromas that waft from the maquis corse, or Corsican scrub. But Corsica titillates all the senses with vivid sunsets, teal blue waters and a singular food and wine culture spun from longtime isolation.
Many of the island’s best beaches, restaurants and hotels are found in the south near Porto-Vecchio. Waterfront Casadelmar offers modern, generous rooms, a two-star Michelin kitchen and a wine list replete with local rarities and older vintages.
A bit further flung is Domaine de Murtoli. The luxury property’s secluded location on a broad wild beach attracts high-profile clients and newlyweds in search of privacy. The hotel has three restaurants to choose from including Michelin-starred Table de la Ferme. All three source their ingredients fresh from the estate or nearby coast and have wine lists that showcase Corsican and French producers.
Wineries are scattered throughout the island, though many are positioned in the north and along the west coast, around Patrimonio and Ajaccio, respectively. It’s best to rent a car. The key indigenous red grapes include Sangiovese, referred to locally as Nielluccio, and Sciaccarellu, often used to make rosé.
Rosé, of course, is a way of life on a French island. White wines are mostly made from Vermentino, called vermentinu. Look for bottles by Domaine Comte Abbatucci, Clos Venturi, Yves Leccia and Domaine Vetriccie.
Waiheke Island, New Zealand
Where to begin planning a dream honeymoon New Zealand? For a small country, it’s a big destination. Spend all or some of it on Waiheke Island, off the North Island. A roughly 30-minute ferry ride from Auckland deposits you a world away from the country’s largest city.
Waiheke’s vibe evokes a calmer California. Pretty beaches, small villages, quaint inns and plenty of local wine can keep you occupied for days. Waiheke’s Bordeaux-style reds and Syrahs have landed international acclaim and nabbed serious awards.
The island’s home to more than 20 wineries, led by the most famous producer, Stonyridge. Given the flagship Cabernet-dominant blend, Larose, sells for hundreds of dollars, first-time visitors may be surprised by the party vibe. Taylor Swift offered her endorsement after she ran barefoot through the vineyards in 2013, a story still told with pride.
If you hire a boat for a day, sail to Man O’ War Vineyards, tucked along secluded Man O’ War Bay on the island’s eastern shore. Once anchored, slip up the beach in a Zodiac to make an epic entrance to the winery. If a boat isn’t in your plans, the winery is accessible via a gravel road. Other producers to see include Mudbrick, Destiny Bay and Te Motu, the latter perfect for an alfresco lunch.
Waiheke’s nightlife is quiet, perfect for couples who want to focus on one another. But when you need to break the gaze, dinner and a few glasses of wine at The Oyster Inn is the way to go. Cheery guest rooms, right on Oneroa Beach, make it a good spot to rest a few nights. For upscale intimacy, book a chic bungalow at The Boatshed.
You don’t have to be a Sherry lover to honeymoon in Jerez, but you must love to eat. Those familiar with Sherry know that it comes in a range of styles that can pair with food any time of day. You’ll find locals who sip Manzanilla with salty Marcona almonds at a tabanco in the morning. In the late afternoon, it’s fino or palo cortado with platters of fatty jamón (ham) on the relaxed patio of La Cruz Blanca. For newlyweds, Jerez is the perfect place to bond over the delicious trinity of history, food and drink.
The main city of Jerez de la Frontera, or Jerez, sits in southern Andalusia. Though the Phoenicians first settled in the region, the architectural imprint of the Moors creates stunning views.
Yet, Jerez barely registers on the radar of international tourists. The decaying beauty of its old quarter, which surrounds the 11th-century Moorish Fortress Alcázar de Jerez, transports travelers to another era. The sunbaked facades of stately buildings evoke dreams of elegant parties thrown by local Sherry producers. As is typical in Spain, streets empty out midday. A quiet walk downtown should lead into Tabanco el Pasaje, where patrons rally around the exquisite art of flamenco and hoist glasses of fino.
Drop your bags at country vineyard hotel Casa Viña de Alcántara, owned by the González-Byass Sherry empire. For dinner in town, book La Carboná. It’s known for food that’s infused with olorosos and PXs (Pedro Ximénez), and the restaurant stocks a deep selection of Sherry styles and producers. Discover the solera system that makes Sherry unique at Lustau, Bodegas Valdespino and Bodegas Tradición.
Constantia, South Africa
South Africa is a dream destination for many couples. Most Cape Town itineraries feature some combination of Kruger National Park and the Cape Winelands, perhaps squeezing in nearby Constantia for a day.
But Constantia, a pretty enclave south of the city, is rich with Cape Dutch architecture, beautiful wineries and has a slew of outstanding restaurants that rival the Cape Town. In fact, it’s arguably a better place to use as a base for a few days of restful exploration. From there, you can make day trips into Cape Town, about 20 minutes away. And Constantia is closer than ever: United Airlines recently announced a direct flight to Cape Town from New York City, scheduled to begin in December.
The relaxed vibe starts with the landscape. Vineyards and valley slopes sit below the breathtaking Table Mountain National Park. From a wine perspective, Constantia is the oldest grape-growing region in the Southern Hemisphere. Though there’s more to the valley than wine, don’t feel bad if you miss a horseback ride, hike or biking expedition in lieu of eating and drinking.
Newlyweds can indulge in tastings, dinner and spa services at Steenberg Hotel & Spa, established in 1682. Book lunch on the terrace at Buitenverwachting for Constantiaberg mountain views and the library wine list. Special-occasion dinners are the domain of globally recognized La Colombe, especially in its newest high-elevation digs at Silvermist Estate. The same group runs Foxcroft, where winemaker dinners are often offered. Klein Constantia dates to 1685 and is known for one of the world’s great sweet wines, Vin de Constance. Groot Constania, however, is South Africa’s oldest wine-producing estate.