Many keen golfers are also wine aficionados, and there are certain wine producing regions that are also home to top class championship golf. While we are the experts on the best golf holiday destinations from across the globe we needed some help when it came to recommending the wines! That’s where CellarVie Wines came in! CellarVie Wines have provided us with expert information on the regions below and there significance to the wine world…as well as reccommendations on which wines to buy from each region. So in conjunction with our friends at CellarVie Wines we bring you five of the very best golf & wine regions in the world; perfect for your next golf & wine tour.
Hawke’s Bay – New Zealand
Golf – Perched on a series of dramatic promontories that jut out into the Pacific Ocean is the famous Cape Kidnappers Golf Course. The revered design is rightly considered to be one of the world’s most impressive golfing experiences; the unique layout draws comparison with Royal North Devon in England as a result of its raw and uncompromising stretch while enjoying vistas and coastal holes which would not look out of place at the world famous Pebble Beach.
Famed architect Tom Doak created this course in 2004 and has received critical acclaim ever since. Measuring more than 7,100 yards from the championship markers, Cape Kidnappers is one which requires both accuracy and distance to tame this North Island giant. With a golf course which ranks amongst the very best in the world, it is no surprise that the accommodation and facilities are up to scratch here as well.
Wine – Perched on the east coast of the southern half of the North Island, where you will find Cape Kidnappers, Hawke’s Bay has about 350km of coastline while most of the vineyards in the region can be found surrounding the cities of Napier and Hastings. The vineyards along this stretch of the New Zealand coastline vary in soil – there are thought to be more than 25 different types following the collision of a series of valleys and there are also notable variations in altitude.
As a winemaking region, Hawke’s bay is New Zealand’s oldest and second largest and it has the largest planting of red wine grape varieties in the country. This is one of the reasons why Hawke’s Bay has made a name for itself with red grape varieties other than Pinot Noir (unlike most of the rest of the country) and in fact, the region’s most recent vintage meant it produced more than 85% of the country’s Syrah whereas Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot thrive here too. Chardonnay is the region’s best white wine by some distance.
Hawke’s Bay has the highest percentage of Sustainable Winegrowing NZ accredited wineries in the country and of the 172 vineyards in the region, 70% are accredited.
Golf – If you are going to travel all the way to California there is simply only one place to consider for your days spent on the golf course. The Monterey Peninsula boasts a collection of golf courses that rival any other in the world. Gems like Spyglass Hill and the Links at Spanish Bay are reason enough to visit the golfing capital of California but this special patch of land also boasts the stunning Cypress Point and the world famous Pebble Beach.
The qualities of Pebble Beach are no secret with many of the game’s leading lights – including the legendary Jack Nicklaus – claiming it to be the finest golf course in the world. This famous US Open host boasts some of the most stunning holes in golf and is famous for providing a thrilling test of golf from start to finish. Look out for the par 5 6th, followed by the famous downhill par 3 7th. The 18th is also one of the finest finishing holes in golf as the golfer has to contend with a long par 5 that hugs the pacific coastline from tee to green. On a windy day the sound of the waves crashing just a few feet from the fairway is enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up on end!
Please note the above picture was taken by Joan Doast.
Wine – The fruits of California’s wine industry are vast. There’s quite a responsibility on California’s wine shoulders for it produces a good 90% of its country’s entire wine volume, despite the fact that wine is made in every single one of the USA’s 50 states!
We are starting to see a change in the Californian wine scene over here. California has historically, and wrongly, had a reputation for producing wines at opposite ends of the price spectrum, when in truth it has always made wines at all price levels. However, because demand was so high back on home turf we never saw any of the mid-priced wine here, but this is all starting to change!
Changing too, is the increasing use of different clones of grape varieties, in an attempt to make the most from California’s hugely varied climate. We say hugely varied, because it’s easy to think of California as one big, hot and dry land mass. In reality, it is only what is known as the Central Valley which endures such climatic extremes, if only because is too far inland to benefit from any effect of the cooling fog for which rolls in from the Pacific.
This fog is critical in determining much of California’s wine styles, as it cools regions like Carneros to such a degree that Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from this region can be as cool and crisp as any other region in the world.
Perhaps most famously though, is the AVA of Napa, where Cabernet Sauvignon reigns supreme and which has a particularly fine reputation for class and concentration.
California is split into approximately 100 AVAs, American Viticultural Areas, which some producers value as a geographical mapping and others pay little attention to at all!
A great Californian Producer is Robert Mondavi, and a particularly special wine of theirs is the Robert Mondavi Private Selection Pinot Noir.
Bordeaux – South West France
Golf – Golf du Médoc is one of the most renowned golfing destinations in France, thanks to its two internationally renowned championship courses, laid out over the famous terrain of the wine-producing area around Bordeaux. Many famous names have graced the courses; Retief Goosen triumphed at the 1999 French Open, while notable visitors to this ‘Hidden Gem’ include Ballesteros, Crenshaw, Olazabal, Garcia, Woosnam, Montgomerie and more.
The Chateaux Course is a 6,907 yard, par 71 beauty which provides an immensely enjoyable yet challenging round of golf to players of all abilities. This stunning course’s main feature is the amazing bunkering but links style features provide a challenge all the way around. Its sister course, the Vignes Course, is considered to be the second course at Medoc but it is by no means inferior. The Vignes has a distinctly different character to the Chateaux Course. Its fairways are lined by intimidating pine trees and as such the course is more akin to the classic parkland layouts found in England. With challenging par 5s and a total yardage of 6,802 yards, the course is a fantastic challenge to even the most talented of players.
Wine – The most famous wine name in the world, Bordeaux, is found towards the south west corner of France, surrounding the historic city of the same name.
The climate in Bordeaux is very marginal, which means vintages can sometimes be challenging, although the region’s relentless optimism when it comes to talking about the quality of each vintage has become a source of some amusement in recent years, as each year is declared “the vintage of the century”.
Then again, wines from this region are often rated as of the most superior quality in the world, and have long been held high on a pedestal as a benchmark style for other regions all over the world to copy. The region is also living proof that blended wines should not be sniffed at because, as here in Bordeaux, they produce some of the best wines in the world.
On the left bank of the Garonne river, along the region known as the Médoc, Cabernet Sauvignon rules, although seldom are its wines made from 100% Cabernet and are often softened with the fleshy Merlot. There are five red grapes permitted in red Bordeaux; Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot.
The left bank is home to the five First Growth châteaux. These properties have been given elevated status under the famous 1855 classification system, which ranked the properties in Bordeaux according to quality. While this is still pertinent today, there are also a number of quality wines on the left bank of Bordeaux which did not make the grade more than a century and a half ago. Today these wines are often referred to as Cru Bourgeois and can be a source of value for money Bordeaux.
Coming back to the right bank, north of Dordogne, the clay soils make Merlot a more favourable grape to grow than Cabernet Sauvignon and is the home to St Emilion and Pomerol.
We must not forget that Bordeaux is also the region of Sauternes, another world class, often regarded as benchmark style of wine. Made one or all three white grapes Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle which have been affected by the noble rot condition called botrytis, they make heady, perfumed, unctuous sweet wines. The same white grapes, especially Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, are used to produce dry white Bordeaux, a style which has been much overlooked thanks to the region’s red white fame but which can be a fruity, refreshing aperitif or seafood-matching wine.
Other Bordeaux regions of note include Entre Deux Mers, Côtes de Castillon, Blaye and Bourg.
Cape Town – South Africa
Golf – The 18 hole championship course at the Arabella Country Club overlooks the stunning Kogelberg Nature Reserve which means golfers can enjoy stunning views of a great variety of wild flowers and plant life. Add to this a backdrop of a tranquil lagoon and breathtaking mountain views and this is surely one of the most picturesque places to play golf anywhere in the world.
Arabella doesn’t just boast magnificent scenery but also offers travelling golfers a stern, but infinitely enjoyable test of golf. At 6,900 yards from the tips this classic parkland course is no monster by modern standards but is sufficiently long to challenge even the longest hitters. Water hazards, rugged scrubland and intelligently placed bunkers all add to the challenge although perhaps the real challenge will be to concentrate for a full round in the midst of such stunning natural beauty!
Wine – One of the most famous wine regions in South Africa surrounds the second oldest town in South Africa, of the same name.
In an amphitheatre style, Stellenbosch is surrounded by a series of mountains, and vineyards can be found both on the valley floor and on the sides of the valleys, as the soils move from sandstone to granite as the land gets higher, although the best wines are generally thought to come from the area surrounding the town.
The further north you travel in Stellenbosch, the warmer the climate (as you’re heading inland) but the whole of Stellenbosch is nevertheless blessed with great grape growing conditions. While Chenin Blanc was historically the wine of note here, today the region much prefers to turn its hand to red grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Merlot although good Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay can be achieved here in the right locations.
Garden Route – South Africa
Golf – The coastline to the east of Cape Town is arguably the most beautiful of any in the extraordinarily diverse landscape of South Africa. Known generally as the Garden Route, the area captures hearts and minds with its spell-binding beauty, and is fast becoming one of the Southern Hemisphere’s most attractive holiday destinations.
One key golfing attraction in this region is the Fancourt Hotel & Country Estate where there are no less than three stunning Gary Player-designed championship golf courses. The Outeniqua and the Montagu Courses are stunning parkland creations that are the perfect foil for the more famous and illustrious Links Course which is truly one of the most spectacular golf courses, not just in South Africa, but in the world. Player’s love of seaside golf spurred him to study his favourite coastal layouts of the UK and Ireland, and their influence is plainly visible. The demanding Links can be extended to a mighty 7,625 yards from the tees used for the 2003 Presidents Cup and the 2005 South African Open, but rest assured there are tees to suit the mere mortal. The Links is now one of the world’s most celebrated courses, and is a ‘must play’ for serious golfers.
Wine – The ‘Garden Route’ is a useful geographical umbrella term for wines which usually come from one or more region, as nearly every winemaking region in South Africa falls under this large area.
The winemaking regions and important sub-regions included are Breede River Valley, and within that Breedekloof, Robertson and Worcester; Cape South East, which includes Walker Bay and Overberg; Coastal Region, which includes most of the famous names of South African wine such as Darling, Franshhoek, Paarl, Stellenbosch, Swartland, Tulbagh, Tygerberg, and finally Klein Karoo, which includes the Citrusdal Valley and Olifants River.
The resident golf geek at Your Golf Travel. Have been lucky enough to have travelled far and wide playing golf and if I’m not writing about it at work, you will probably find me hacking it around my local course. Owner of 2 holes in one and some of the most crooked drives you have ever seen!