We received a number of responses to last week’s piece on lesser-known American destinations from folks who were dying to know where they could get their wine-and-golf fix outside the United states.
So, we pulled together a group of international destinations where the grapes are as pleasing as the greens.
Wine is made all over the world, as you probably know, so a truly exhaustive list would probably be so long, it’d put you to sleep faster than any tannins we know of.
So here are our choicest five selections from the “wine world” of golf:
Canada: Tobiano Golf Club and the Okanagan Valley
We start out close (relatively speaking—only a couple thousand miles away) to GVI headquarters. Most people unfamiliar with America’s neighbor to the north are quick to label Canada as perpetually icy and snowy, perhaps with a brief respite in the middle of summer for some pleasant weather. But there’s more to it than that, especially in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, which produces many of the country’s best wines. The southern portion of the valley, in particular, boasts a climate that most reminds of Napa and Sonoma. The best golf course in the area is the Thomas McBroom-designed Tobiano, laid out on some breathtaking land with broad views of the mountains. The town of Oliver is home to the Golden Mile Winery Route, where visitors can sample the offerings of a number of wineries on foot.
Italy: Castiglion del Bosco
One of our favorite resorts in all of Continental Europe happens to be in the heart of Tuscany in the village of Il Borgo. Its Tom Weiskopf-designed golf course is good, not great, but the rest of the resort is, in a word, tremendous. And it should be, as rooms start at €450 per night. For visiting oenophiles, there is no shortage of wineries in the area—too many good ones to name—many of which produce one of Italy’s most delectable wine varieties, the Sangiovese-based Brunello di Montalcino.
New Zealand: Cape Kidnappers
Clear on the other side of the planet, this Tom Doak-designed gem features some of the most spectacular cliff-hanging golf you are likely to see anywhere, and is close to some of New Zealand’s many fine wineries (which go particularly well with another New Zealand comestible: lamb). If you explore the surrounding Hawke’s Bay wine country, prepare to sample a lot of reds—Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah are among the area’s most popular varieties, but Chardonnay is also plentiful for fans of whites. The growing wine empire under former pro golfer-cum-analyst Frank Nobilo has an outpost in Hawke’s Bay, and Craggy Range, Mission Estate and Te Mata Estate receive high praise as well.
Australia: St. Andrews Beach
Another seaside Tom Doak gem, St. Andrews Beach doesn’t have the scenery of Cape Kidnappers, but it has Doak’s classical design sensibilities and sense of fun in spades. The course is situated on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, less than 90 minutes from the city of Melbourne, which is home to yet more incredible grounds for Australian golf. Mornington Peninsula is also home to more than two dozen wineries which produce a wide range of grapes, but locals rave most passionately about the area’s Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs.
South Africa: Fancourt
The thrilling 2003 Presidents Cup played out over Fancourt’s Links course, one of three courses on-site designed by the country’s own golf legend Gary Player. The resort’s Outeniqua and Montagu tracks are worth a play, too. The surrounding region is home to Herold Winery, which grows both white and red grape varieties for its Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz/Merlot “Red Men” blend. Other area wineries include Domein-Doordekraal, Excelsior-Vlatkeplaas and Grundheim Wines.
If you want to combine golf and wine (and gourmet food and sightseeing…) and money is relatively little concern, we recommend one of numerous Kalos Golf Cruises, from New Zealand to Europe to their “Golf Around The World” private jet tour.
We fully recognize there are many other great places to enjoy both wine and golf outside the United States. Be sure to share your favorites in the comments!