5 Great Golf Destinations for Wine Lovers
Have you noticed how grapevines adore pleasant climates with soul-soothing views of rugged mountains and serene bodies of water? So do golfers.
Thankfully, many wine regions offer not only pleasing landscapes and culinary delights, but also superb golf courses.
Here are five bucket-list golf destinations that gourmets won’t want to miss. Because on vacation, you shouldn’t have to choose between passions.
Located between the Paarl and Franschhoek Winelands of South Africa’s Western Cape, the Drakenstein Mountains offer a spectacular backdrop for the Pearl Valley Golf & Country Estate. Emerald green bentgrass, brilliant white river-sand bunkers and lakes that mirror the rugged towering mountains make this one of the world’s most beautiful courses. The Jack Nicklaus-designed layout has lush fairways set up in varying directions, ensuring that winter’s northwesterly and summer’s southeasterly winds don’t unduly affect the outcome.
Signature Hole and Wine: Don’t become distracted by the majestic mountain vista, because there’s little margin for error on the par-5 fourth. Just as the locally grown Boekenhoutskloof Sémillon dances a tightrope between sensitively chiseled minerality, succulent acidity and luxurious toasty elements, golfers must cross the creek three times during their approach to a tricky green.
Where to Stay: A short drive away, the 18 luxurious rooms at the Le Quartier Français open onto a secluded rose-filled central courtyard and a swimming pool with a view of the mountains. Located in the pretty little Francophile culinary town of Franschhoek, not only are the accommodations superb, but Le Quartier Français also houses one of the best restaurants in the world.
Where to Dine: Even the most jaded palates will be impressed during a visit to the Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français, where Margot Janse, the grande chef, will take you on a magical culinary tour of Africa. The sommelier’s by-the-glass recommendations include South African wines you didn’t know you already adored.
Astounding lake and mountain vistas—and the possibility of seeing falcons, osprey and caribou—make it difficult to keep your eye on the ball at Predator Ridge. High on a plateau above Lake Okanagan, the resort boasts two 18-hole courses. The links-style Predator offers an open, rolling landscape. Narrow fairways lined with tall fescue grass and undulating greens challenge even expert golfers. The Ridge course wanders through woodland and between granite outcrops. It sports dramatic elevation changes and stylish bunkers shaped like maple leaves and bear claws. From several lofty tee boxes, players hit drives over lush fairways far below.
Signature Hole and Wine: With many breathtaking vantage points, it’s as difficult to choose a favorite hole at Predator Ridge as it is a favorite Okanagan Valley wine style. The dramatic par-4 sixth plummets toward the lake, with a craggy rock wall flanking the right side. Reward yourself with Poplar Grove’s Merlot-based “The Legacy.”
Where to Stay: Sparkling Hill Resort sits atop a granite ridge that overlooks the lake. All rooms feature a Swarovski crystal fireplace and crystal starry sky over a freestanding bathtub. Floor-to-ceiling sliding window walls allow expansive views of the Monashee Mountains or Okanagan Lake, and specialists pamper guests at the 40,000-square-foot crystal spa.
Where to Dine: The scenic one-hour drive to Quails’ Gate Old Vines Restaurant set in the West Kelowna vineyards is well worth the effort. A library of superb Quails’ Gate wines and an eclectic selection of local and international options are paired with classic European-style cuisine.
Set in a natural alpine amphitheater below the rugged Remarkables mountain range, this South Island golfing venue offers three nine-hole courses that exploit the dramatic terrain. Long summer days are best enjoyed here from November to March. The Remarkables, Arrow and Coronet Nine courses are named after the stunning local peaks that protect the region from prevailing South Pacific winds. It’s a decisive advantage over other noteworthy New Zealand courses where a chip, placed just inches from the pin, can be suddenly blown into a deep sand trap overlooking an ocean cliff.
Signature Hole and Wine: Serious poise is required to execute the Coronet par-5 sixth hole. After a long, straight drive, you’re threatened with a forked water hazard. To reach the island to the left, a pitch with the chiseled precision of a Two Paddocks Riesling is rewarded with a view of the pin. To the right, a long iron demands the inner strength of a Felton Road Pinot Noir.
Where to Stay: Millbrook Resort accommodations are spacious and luxurious without sacrificing that unassuming Kiwi charm. Located near the historic gold-mining village of Arrowtown, just 20 minutes from bustling Queenstown, you can pamper yourself with a massage or beauty treatment at the tranquil five-star spa.
Where to Dine: Housed in the original flourmill, The Millhouse, the resort’s signature restaurant, is warm and intimate, with views over the Mill Pond and 18th hole. The sommelier will assist you in your choice from the award-winning wine list to pair with seasonal dishes made from local ingredients. The Japanese-owned resort also features modern interpretations of Japanese cuisine at Kobe restaurant.
Set amid forested hills and terraced vineyards, this club’s two 18-hole courses are nestled in the heart of Grüner Veltliner country, just one hour from Vienna. The courses are a bit rustic, but that’s part of their charm. They’re part of a unique wine-cultural landscape, while also integrating natural slopes and water hazards. The courses provide an educational guide to Austrian wine, with several tees named and planted with typical Austrian grape varieties like Grüner Veltliner, Neuburger, St. Laurent, Blaufränkisch and Zweigelt. Local vintners even sponsor an annual Vinarium Golf Trophy. More social event than competition, producers set up tasting booths at each hole.
Signature Hole and Wine: The elevated tee from the par-5 13th offers a panoramic view over the Kamptal that stretches from the Pinot Noir vines of the Dechant vineyard to Austria’s most famous Riesling site, the Zöbinger Heiligenstein. Just as it’s best to take your time to enjoy every sip of peachy-mineral Zöbinger Heiligenstein Riesling, choose to go around the dogleg with care, because the shortcut over the pond is rarely rewarded.
Where to Stay: The wine-themed guestrooms of the Loisium Resort in nearby Langenlois appear to float over the glass lobby, restaurant and bar. Austria’s leading wine experience center, designed by American architect Steven Holl, is a futuristic cube placed over the 900-year-old cellar labyrinth at the heart of the complex.
Where to Dine: Heurigenhof Bründlmayer, in the center of Langenlois, belongs to one of the pillars of Austrian wine culture, Willi Bründlmayer. Enjoy local cheeses, housemade terrines and other regional specialties alongside liquid treasures drawn from the deep archive of Bründlmayer wines.
A 1½-hour drive from Barcelona, the Lumine Golf Club in the wine region of Tarragona is a paradise for both golfers and wildlife. Winner of the Audubon International Gold Certification for its admirable -water management, Lumine’s three Greg Norman-designed courses offer different experiences. The 18-hole links-style Lumine Lakes course meanders through the Sèquia Major wetlands and is the most challenging for recreational players. The nine-hole Lumine Ruins course is perched on an elevated plateau among Roman ruins from 200 B.C. The 18-hole Lumine Hills parkland course wanders through white pine, olive and carob trees and offers spectacular views over the Mediterranean Sea.
Signature Hole and Wine: The par-4 18th on the Lumine Hills course is a dogleg right with a well-protected green that’s backed by a rock cliff and surrounded by bunkers and water. Firm resolve, reminiscent of the most structured wines from neighboring Priorat, is required. Some players could cut the corner and attack the green from the tee in pursuit of scoring an eagle. But is it worth the risk?
Where to Stay: Spend the night just 20 minutes away from the golf and 10 minutes from the historical city of Tarragona, at Mas La Boella, a winery and boutique hotel set among olive trees and gardens. Thirteen well-equipped, tastefully furnished rooms are found in the attractive modern building or adjoining 12th-century country manor.
Where to Dine: The Michelin-starred Rincón de Diego in nearby Cambrils offers delicious, modern interpretations of regional seafood dishes. The perfectly chilled second-floor wine cellar boasts a large range of top wines from Spain’s most important wine regions.
- 1Magical South Africa
- 2Bear Aware Canada
- 3Remarkable New Zealand
- 4Austrian Wine Country
- 5Sustainable Spain